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Diverse Teaching, Diverse Learning Series

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The Diverse Teaching, Diverse Learning Series seeks to showcase contemporary interpretations of canonical literary works. From Borderlands Theory to Disability Studies to Monster Theory, the series celebrates diverse frameworks and perspectives that represent those on the cutting edge of critical literary scholarship today.

Medieval Made Modern: Chrétien deTroyes' Perceval Through the Lens of Disability and Autistic Studies

Although Chrétien de Troyes wrote Perceval or The Story of the Grail nearly a millennium ago, the characters he created have influenced tales of heroism ever since. Interestingly, Perceval’s markedly “odd” behavior—his obsessive interest in the parts of knighthood, his lack of reciprocation in conversation and interaction, his lack of decorum and disregard of social mores, and his overly literal interpretations of his mother’s instruction regarding the code of chivalry—correspond to commonly reported Autistic characteristics. Because Perceval is also a capable, heroic, and good knight who feels empathy, viewing Perceval as an Autistic character might enable a contemporary audience to overturn stereotypes of Autistic people and treat them with greater humanity.

Shaun Bryan graduated summa cum laude with B.A. in Sociology in 2013. He went on to receive two M.A.s in Rhetoric and Composition and in Philosophy and Ethics in 2015 and 2017, respectively. He has written several journalistic articles regarding disability rights and employment issues within the disability community that have gone viral garnered support from well-known disability rights activists and disability studies scholars. Shaun is presently working on a book prospectus for a book project in which he proposed to present readers with his and other disabled peoples' experiences in searching for meaningful employment and tackling the disability unemployment crisis. His written work encompasses the intersections of disability studies, Autistic cultural studies, disability rights, and conceptual models of social paradigms. His work on the character of Perceval was his first foray into critical disability studies.

See Shaun's latest research here.