Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom Using Queer, Feminist, and Critical Race Theory

We will discuss translating foundational concepts in these theoretical traditions into the university classroom, with particular attention to pedagogy and curriculum. Queer, feminist, and critical race theories are explicitly about exposing and addressing systems of oppression, and therefore, offer a rich lens through which to think about inclusion0227ourselves as instructors and how we can better serve our students. Participants will engage with specific concepts such as intersectionality, strategic essentialism, counter story-telling, microaggressions, borderland identities, structure/agency, “benevolent” prejudice, and hierarchies of power/knowledge, among others. The focus will be on a basic understanding of some of the critical concepts and how they commonly are ignored or play out in the classroom. No background in these theories necessary for this workshop.

Speakers: Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas and Dr. Beth Douthirt-Cohen, Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Date: Thursday, February 27th from 4-5:30pm

Location: 1310 Marie Mount Hall

If you have not already done so, please RSVP here.

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7 Responses to Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom Using Queer, Feminist, and Critical Race Theory

  1. daniel standridge says:

    looks interesting

  2. Zackary Hull says:

    I like how the author touches on her experience as a member of multiple oppressed groups. The frustration she felt was clear and understandable. Because the greater system of privilege is complicated and multilayered, it often leads minority populations to work against each other, which prevents progress from being made in combating the greater system of privilege that affects everyone. Thus, the status quo is maintained.

  3. neeraja dashaputre says:

    I can feel the frustration the author feels while writing this article. Being someone who is constantly suppressed due to her belonging to many sub-oppressed groups, her frustration is evident and justified. Its a disadvantage that the minorities themselves tend to categorize small populations within them, resulting in a situation as experienced by the author. The author claims that women in general tend to use the difference within them as a means to separation and suspicion, rather as a means to change and connect. I completely agree with her, and hence it is very important to inculcate the feeling of inclusion of diversity since childhood to create acceptance of this multilayered society around us.

  4. Ashley Munger says:

    Lorde’s piece on hierarchy of oppressions reminded me of the quote by Niemöller in reference to the Holocaust, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me” as well as a popular excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

    Cultivating prejudice towards any group increases the likelihood that prejudice will be expressed toward other non-dominant groups. However, we often focus our pursuit of justice on the concerns of our own group. Merely trying to change the relationship between society and one specific group neglects the fact that changes have to happen at a societal level to promote the incorporation of all groups. I use the word incorporation, rather than tolerance, because I feel tolerance can often be akin to “separate but equal.” The non-dominant group is still in a one-down position if they are merely being “tolerated.” This attitude can keep the door open for more subtle forms of prejudice and oppression, which can often be more insidious than more overt attitudes and actions, as the oppressor has plausible deniability.
    Lorde’s piece “Master’s Tools” addresses this issue. Though she was in a forum that was supposed to value diversity and inclusion, women who are Black and Lesbian were not fully incorporated into the event, ironically marginalized. Thus, full incorporation as an equal (not cursorily included) voice is necessary.

  5. Sarah Wanenchak says:

    If we want to think of teaching as a dialogue rather than just a lecture, then when we teach, we always have to be sensitive to the fact that we’re cultivating a pedagogical space in which certain voices may or may not be heard – in addition to our own, and whatever standpoint we bring to that space, with whatever intersecting identities we carry. We can either make a place for certain voices, or we can maintain the existing structures that often keep those voices from being heard.

    In both of these pieces Lorde speaks to the question of who gets to speak and be heard. She confronts a feminist space that claims to be progressive but is still locked into racist power structures. Within that space, she demands to know why, though white feminists have claimed to make an effort to introduce the voices of women of color, those efforts have been inadequate at best. In her discussion of intersecting marginalized identities, she calls on us to be sensitive to the fact that none of these identities can be considered in isolation from all the others, but instead that all of them produce complex experiences of domination and oppression.

    These things are pedagogical concerns because education can be a process of liberation, of encouraging students to question the status quo and to pursue their own agency. But when we work in a classroom, we’re also working within a space that has been produced by dominant power structures, and is often constrained by them. This is where we have to consider “the master’s tools” – what “tools” are present? How are they being used? What do we need to throw away or dismantle? And what might we be protecting with our own use of these tools?

  6. Ji Kim says:

    I enjoyed reading the text very much. There were two things that I particularly appreciated and was able to associate with.

    I appreciated that the author brought up the issue of hierarchy of oppression. As I became more engaged in critical self-reflection I realized that my identities were subject to different kinds of oppression. Also, my relative position in the continnuum of structure of oppression was also different depending on the context where I was in. I felt affirmed by reading the author’s claim that there is no hierarchy of oppression but attacks to one group can actually be attacks of many groups that are associate with the group, although it may not seem so.

    I also appreciated that the author interpreted differences as strengths in “The Master’s Tools” piece. Her arguement that even among those who claimed to work towards gender equality were actually not rigorously reflecting on themselves when it comes to intersections of race, class, and sexuality was bold and poignant. Differences in one way or the other needed to be appreciated and acknowledged, rather than being neglected. Considering that the talk was done in 1979, I hope there has been progress in what she deemed as untouched and undiscussed problem within the circles of feminist scholars/activists and “divide and conquer [has] become difine and empower” (112).

  7. Jonathan Senn, Jr. says:

    Lorde’s vivid explanations and critiques of institutionalized oppression stem from her personal experiences, which she states in her writings, and is clearly represented by the ferver and passion with which she writes. Her experiences of underrepresentation of marginalized groups and the ignorance for the communal struggle against patriarchy at the conference on feminism tie into the intersectionality ubiquitous in writings and theories addressing discrimination and oppression. Furthermore, Lorde, a black, lesbian, woman, refutes the idea of ranked oppression as a manifestation of the patriarchal society we live in. Constantly, in different workshops and readings, embracing differences in educators and students is seen as a tool to promote cohesion and to prevent division; Lorde is also a proponent of similar ideals, specifically in the realm of bringing different women with different backgrounds to strengthen the cohesion of the group, and to prevent the derision of the feminist movement.

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