The Language of Homelessness
The Language of Homelessness is a an autoethnographic story in the form of a math textbook that deconstructs the ways that mathematics has historically been used to reduce bodies by instead using mathematics to expand narrative possibility. The textbook follows Rachel’s own journey to college as a runaway youth, as well as the journeys of two other fictional characters, Angel and Justice, as they navigate a network of problems created by an increasingly complex mathematical “system” called CalcuHomelessness. As a hybrid genre project, The Language of Homelessness incorporates elements of personal narrative, fiction, and research, influenced by Rachel’s experiences as a disabled survivor of child sexual abuse and stories on the National Runaway Safeline Forum. Ultimately, by “teaching” readers how to do the impossible mathematics of CalcuHomelessness, The Language of Homelessness attempts to subvert dominant understandings of runaway youth as “the problem,” instead pointing toward the injustices of a deliberately broken system.
Rachel D.L. (she/her/hers) is a white, queer, disabled artist, writer, and community organizer with Disability Pride Madison. She writes about disability for the Rooted in Rights blog and has published poetry, nonfiction, and comics in Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Nat.Brut, Redivider, and Entropy. Her current work centers trauma, disability, mathematics, and the relationships between interpersonal and institutionalized forms of violence. She is working on two books, a completed graphic memoir about chronic illness and an autoethnographic story in the form of a math textbook about youth homelessness. More of her work can be found on wordcalculator.pb.online.