Academic productivity, sociality, and success requires an able mind, and proof of able-mindedness is often located in the researcher’s ability to produce work in the academic genre.1 My mind is neither quick nor slow but contingent and metaphoric, instinctively turning to forms better suited to creative writing. I’ve been neuroqueer all my life, masking my preferred modes of knowledge-making by writing in the academic registers insisted on by the university. The kinds of publications that “count” on a CV for for promotion and tenure. The kinds of conference presentations that aren’t met with an interrogation about methodology. Like a program director once told me, “You can’t publish a creative book after a scholarly one; it’ll look like a decline in rigor.”
Media studies scholar Frederic Jameson says, “‘Ficto-criticism’ makes a lot of sense to me. It is very clear that there has been a flowing together of theory and criticism. It seems that theory can’t exist without telling little narrative stories and then at this point of criticism, criticism seems very close to simply telling stories.”2 In prioritizing writerly choices as much as the object of research, fictocriticism compels the scholar to dwell in the extralinguistic expressions that underpin the research process. Objective knowledge-making isn’t the only goal, as Schlunke and Brewster (2005) say: “the satisfaction of being right isn’t the satisfaction of fictocriticism. We want to be ‘got.’”3
I am versed in academic and creative modes, and when I fuse the two, I call it creative-critical or transgenre, after a conversation I had with creative-critical scholar and transgenre writer Ames Hawkins. As a disabled QBIPOC woman, I experience genre constraints as an academic/imperial tool of subjugation. I am not tenured as of this writing, though not as precarious as I used to be, so I work to normalize alternate modes of knowledge-making in the academy: through my own work, and by permitting such options for students in my classes.
Disabled bodyminds are incongruent to the flows of capitalist productivity, and fictocriticism, adoption of fiction techniques is defiance. My CV thus consists of scholarship, creative writing, and creative-critical work: transgenre, multimodal compositions and/or performance art.
Adapted from “Fictocriticism,” This is about the body, the mind, the academy, the clinic, time, and pain.
1 Chen, M. Y. (2014) Brain fog: The race for cripistemology. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 8(2), 171-184.
2 Ward, A., & Jameson, F. (2005). Andrea Ward speaks with Frederic Jameson. In E. Garnet (Ed.), Impulse Archaeology. University of Toronto Press.
3 Schlunke, K., & Brewster, A. (2005). We four: Fictocriticism again. Continuum: Journal of Media & Culture Studies, 19(3), 393-395.