Drawing in the margins: my son's arsenal of monsters - (autistic) imagination and the cultural capital of childhood

Rozanna Lilley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    In this chapter, I analyse a set of primary school drawings by my son.His primary school monster drawings are considered within two competing, or perhaps just disparate, theoretical frames. The first treats the art of individuals diagnosed with autism as evidence of their fundamental cognitive differences and impaired condition. The second views children’s monster drawings as indicative of their competent participation in a broader social context that is as part of normal social development. The idea that drawing is either evidence of impairment or of the successful acquisition of valued cultural capital cannot be easily reconciled. The tension documented here between these frames of interpretation is, of necessity, a sketch. But an effort to follow the contours of the argument allows us to consider what is ethically at stake when we think about how an 11-year-old boy unintentionally talks (or draws) back to the poverty of theorizing around autistic imagination, subverting monstrous representations of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder by creating his own ebullient cast of quirky monsters rendered in ink.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMonster anthropology
    Subtitle of host publicationethnographic explorations of transforming social worlds through monsters
    EditorsYasmine Mushabash, Geir Henning Presterudstuen
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)9781350096271, 9781350096264
    ISBN (Print)9781350096257
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • autism
    • drawing
    • childhood


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