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Elizabeth Fein

Assistant Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Psychology

206 Rockwell Hall
Phone: 412-396-4852

Education:

Ph.D., University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development
Bio

I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Grateful for the opportunity to receive clinical training in an interdisciplinary department, I aim to support other clinician-scholars who wish to train in multiple epistemic traditions. In both my research and my clinical practice I bring together approaches and insights from psychology, anthropology, and science and technology studies, to better understand how people make sense of the world around them, and how these sense-making activities transform the world in turn.

I focus particularly on psychiatric and neurodevelopmental diagnoses and the people who inhabit and shape these categorizations. My recent research explores the lived experience of Asperger's Syndrome among youth and young adults in the United States. How do individuals affected by Asperger's Syndrome draw on broader discourses about biomedicine, identity and technology to make sense of this complex and contested diagnostic category? I am especially interested in the way these youth use forms of identity play such as cosplay and live-action roleplaying games to explore and express fraught relationships between self and surrounding world. I incorporate this interest into my clinical practice as well, developing science-fiction and fantasy-based roleplaying groups for youth on the autism spectrum where they can experiment with perspective-taking, non-verbal communication, and collaboration.

Expertise

Clinical ethnography, cultural psychology, psychological and psychiatric anthropology, neurodevelopmental disorders, science and technology studies

Courses Taught

I am currently teaching Developmental Psychology and Psychological Disorders at the undergraduate level, and a graduate seminar in Clinical Ethnography. In the future, I hope to offer courses on working with clients who have neurodevelopmental differences, and on the impact of technology on identity development.

Publications

Fein, E. (2011). Innocent machines: Asperger's Syndrome and the neurostructural self. In:Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 12). Martyn Pickersgill and Ira van Keulen, eds. Emerald Group Publishing.

Fein, E. (2011). Together in transformation: culture, community and symbolic roleplay at an "Aspie" summer camp. In Autism Through the Lens of the Social Sciences. Morris Fred, ed. Easter Seals.

Presentations

Invited Talks
2009: "Shards in the Soul: Metallic Bodies and Hybrid Identities in the Legends of Teenagers with Asperger Syndrome". March, 2009, Stanford University Department of Anthropology

"Autism On Stage". Keynote Address, Autism Society of America Annual Conference, Preconference Workshop on Autism and Theater, May 2009 (delivered with Valerie Paradiz and Howard Moody).

2008: "Wizards on the River of Magic: Culture, Roleplay and Transformation at an Asperger Summer Camp". Autism Through the Lens of the Social Sciences, April 2008, University of Chicago.

2005: "Asperger's Syndrome: Research and Practice". Department of Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Division, John C. Stroger Hospital, Chicago, IL.

Panels Organized
2012: "Disorders of Development: Child and Youth Mental Health in Changing Cultural Contexts". Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, April 2013.

2009: "Systems in Crisis: The Collapse and Re-Organization of Meaning". Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, March 2009.

Papers Presented
2014: "Transitional Spaces, Transformative Potentials: Role-playing Subcultures and the Autism Spectrum" 74th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, March, 2014

2011: "Social Disorders and Social Etiologies: The Autism Spectrum as Cognition-Culture Interaction". 110th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, 2011.

2010: "Innocent Machines: Managing Intersubjectivity in an Asperger's Syndrome Classroom". 109th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, 2010.

2009: "Shards in the Soul: Fantastical Re-imaginings of the Self in Adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome". Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, March, 2009.

2008: "Bridging Social and Medical Models of Asperger's Syndrome". 107th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, 2008

2007: "Sites of Disorder: Asperger's Syndrome in Individual Bodies and Interpersonal Worlds". 106th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, 2007.

"Compelling Structures: 'Special Interests' and the Life-Tellings of Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome". Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, March, 2007.

2006: "Curing Cultures: Disease and Diversity on the Autism Spectrum". 105th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 2006.