Year of Writing in Review: 2015 Published Writing

Last December, I published a year-in-review for my “published writing” and “blogging” in review. I’ve decided to make it a tradition, in part just to keep track, and maybe to suggest a few pieces that didn’t get the readership I feel they deserved.

I had 61 pieces published in 2015 (unless I forgot to note one). I was fortunate to publish in many new venues – Vice, New York Times, Salon, Washington Post, Pacific Standard, The Mary Sue, Yahoo! Parenting,, and Belt. I started doing regular cultural criticism, focusing on fantasy and science fiction TV and movies and gave lots of talks. CNN, The Chronicle, Al Jazeera, and Vice were my mainstays.

Here are a few pieces that you might read:

Online community and the Fear of Down Syndrome (, 2/18/15) – Resources are everywhere. Networks can change lives.

At about 7 a.m. one day last November, Claudia sent me a Facebook message about her best friend, Jane. (All names have been altered.) Jane was pregnant with twins, one of whom had been diagnosed with both Down syndrome and a heart defect. Jane and her spouse were stuck in that toxic panic and didn’t know what to do. Claudia wrote, “They told me it’s super easy to find adoptive parents because lots of people want kids with special needs. Right now, their plan is to leave the baby at the hospital, and failing that the fire station.”

I was startled by the message, but not shocked. I’m the father of a boy with Down syndrome and had at least an inkling of what Jane was going through. On the other hand, although safe haven laws make leaving a child at the hospital legal, and American children with Down syndrome do often get adopted, this clearly wasn’t the right way to go about it. So I told Claudia I’d be back shortly to help, got my own children safely off on the bus to school, and returned to my computer 40 minutes later.

Soon, I was talking to Amy Allison, the executive director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. Fifteen minutes later, Amy had connected me to Stephanie Thompson, the co-director of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. Stephanie reached out to Claudia and from there to Jane.

Making Academic Conferences Accessible (Chronicle Vitae, 7/8/15) – Conferences matter. Our disabled colleagues need access. There are scholars working to make that possible, and I interviewed them.

If you know any disabled academics, then you almost certainly know someone who has encountered obstacles at conferences. In the last month or so, I’ve communicated with dozens of academics with all types of disabilities – including wheelchair users, people with hearing or vision loss, and people with intellectual disabilities like Autism and psychiatric disabilities such as bipolar disorder. They all had many bad stories to tell about accessibility at scholarly meetings, and those stories are especially worth telling as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some conference organizers just don’t think about disability. Others are outright prejudicial, dismissing these needs as imaginary or trivial. Fortunately, there are people trying to make a difference by demonstrating ways to make conferences accessible to all.

“The Net is the Meat:” Bruce Holsinger’s Medieval Fiction (, 4/20/15) – 2015 was the year I started publishing criticism. Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Switched at Birth, and more. But this is my favorite essay about the Middle Ages and the historical imagination. You should read Holsinger’s novels.

At the end of The Invention of Fire, the second John Gower mystery by Bruce Holsinger, the aging poet ponders possible outcomes for a pair of fugitives making their way across England. He muses that his friend, Geoffrey Chaucer, would no doubt come up with some cheerful ending in which they live happily ever after, but not Gower, who likes darker tales.

Gower says, “A poet should not be some sweet-singing bird in a trap, feasting on the meat while blind to the net. The net is the meat, all those entanglements and snares and iron claws that hobble us and prevent our escape from the limits of our weak and fallen flesh.”

Holsinger’s novels are about the net.

2016: I’m focusing on my book now and a major white paper that will come out in the first quarter of next year, so I expect the rate of publication to slow. I’ve said that before and kept writing short pieces, so who knows. Much of that depends on the news. When stories need to be told, I’ll try to tell them.

It’s been a fun year, despite the grim subject of so many essays, and thanks to all for reading.

Distribution, I think:
  • 12 CNN 
  • 12 Al Jazeera
  • 13 Vice
  • 9 Chronicle
  • 2 NYT
  • 2 Salon
  • 2 Pacific Standard
  • 2 WaPo
  • 2 The Mary Sue
  • 1 Yahoo
  • 1 Belt
  • 1 RHRC
  • 1
And here’s the lot: 
  1. When Traveling with Children, there Are No Special Needs (12/22/15)
  2. Reality TV Takes on Down Syndrome (Al Jazeera America, 12/21/15)
  3. Star Wars and the Fan-Fictionalization of American Pop Culture (, 12/18/2015)
  4. Beyond the Crisis: Philip Coleman, the Chicago PD, and Mental Illness Response (, 12/17/2015)
  5. When Police Abuse Disabled Children (Pacific Standard, 12/17/2015)
  6. Paul Ryan Blames Mass Shootings on Mental Illness (Al Jazeera America, 12/5/15)
  7. The San Bernardino Massacre (, 12/3/15) 
  8. The New Game of Thrones Trailer is Talking to Us. ( 12/3/15) 
  9. Three Rules of Academic Blogging (, 11/12/15) 
  10. Welders and Philosophy Majors Unite! (, 11/11/15) 
  11. Politicians are Ignoring Americans with Disabilities (Al Jazeera America, 11/10/15) 
  12. Halloween and the Social Model of Disability (Pacific Standard Magazine, 10/27/15) 
  13. Switched at Birth and ABC Family’s “New Kind of Family” Hits Home (The Mary Sue, 10/26/15) 
  14. Fix “Autism Speaks.” (Al Jazeera America, 10/9/15) 
  15. No, Carly Fiorina, a degree in medieval history doesn’t qualify you to fight Isis (The Guardian, 10/6/15) 
  16. The Martian is Pure, Pleasurable, Competence Porn (, 10/2/15) 
  17. Professor’s Killing Highlights Our Vulnerability (, 9/15/15) 
  18. Guess Who Might Not Be Dead – Hint: Kit Harington Still Has Long Hair (, 9/11/15) 
  19. What Switched at Birth gets Right and Wrong about Families Like Mine (, 9/8/15) 
  20. Down Syndrome, Prenatal Testing, and a Teenage Soap Opera? The Importance of Switched At Birth (The Mary Sue, 9/02/15) 
  21. A “Bechdel-Wallace” Test for the Disability Community (Al Jazeera America, 8/30/15) 
  22. Westworld: The Robots Are Coming! (, 8/25/15) 
  23. Stop Politicizing Down Syndrome and Abortion (, 8/24/15) 
  24. The Surprisingly Simple Future of Assistive Technology (Al Jazeera America, 8/17/15) 
  25. The Outrage of Handcuffing Children in Schools (, 8/5/15) 
  26. Making Academic Conferences Accessible (Chronicle Vitae, 7/8/15) 
  27. I am a Working Dad (Father’s Day 2015) (Al Jazeera America, 6/21/15) 
  28. US schools must stop excluding children with disabilities (Al Jazeera America, 6/16/15) 
  29. The Controversies and Success of Season 5 of Game of Thrones (, 6/12/15) 
  30. What Kids Learn When Adults Aren’t Inclusive (Washington Post, 6/11/15) 
  31. Where Have All the Good Bad Guys Gone? (, 6/10/15) 
  32. Speaking Out Against Autism Speaks (, 6/4/15) 
  33. Inspiration Porn Disables the Disabled (Al Jazeera America, 6/3/15) 
  34. Jon Snow: The Only Hero of Game of Thrones? (, 6/1/15) 
  35. The World’s Reserves of Game of Thrones are Running Dangerously Low(, 5/28/15) 
  36. Low Cost College Isn’t Enough (, 5/20/15) 
  37. Mad Max: Fury Road’ Is the Feminist Action Flick You’ve Been Waiting For(, 5/13/15) 
  38. Zoo Camp for All (Belt Magazine, 5/12/15) 
  39. A Medievalist on Savage Love (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/12/15) 
  40. Save Academic Conferences! (, 5/6/2015) 
  41. DC Super Hero Girls – My Daughter Wants Heroes That Look Like Her(, 5/1/2015) 
  42. The Corrosive Cult of Compliance in Our Schools (Al Jazeera America, 4/22/15) 
  43. Daredevil and Scenes of Ordinary Disability (, 4/20/15) 
  44. “The Net is the Meat:” Bruce Holsinger’s Medieval Fiction (, 4/20/15) 
  45. RFK Jr. owes a lot of people an apology for his comments on autism (, 4/16/15) 
  46. The Telescoping History of Game of Thrones (, 4/14/15) 
  47. Sheehan vs SF: A Chance to Reduce Police Killings of People with Disabilities(Al Jazeera America, 3/22/15) 
  48. Bruce Rauner: Picking on Society’s Most Vulnerable (, 3/18/15) 
  49. “Daddy, What’s Down Syndrome?” (Yahoo! Parenting, 3/17/15) 
  50. Dear Student? How about Dear Provost? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/11/15) 
  51. Why Write a Book? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/3/15) 
  52. To assess LAPD shooting, look past the moment of gunfire. (, 3/2/15) 
  53. Information, Not Inspiration: How to work against the fear of Down syndrome (, 2/18/15) 
  54. From Grad School to the Atlantic (, 2/11/15) 
  55. Conservatives want to rewrite the history of the Crusades (The Guardian, 2/7/15) 
  56. Kristiana Coignard Did Not Have to Die (, 2/2/15) 
  57. Airlines Break Too Many Wheelchairs – But We can Fix It (Al Jazeera America, 1/31/15) 
  58. Associate Dean of What? (, 1/26/15) 
  59. Anti-Choice Legislators Try to Force Wedge Between Reproductive, Disability Rights Activists (Reproductive Health Reality Check, 1/16/15) 
  60. Who Will Teach All the Free Community College Students? (, 1/15/15) 
  61. Harsh Critics in Public Spaces, Judging Only What They See (, 1/12/15)

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