Recently in How we think… Category

Children as disciplinary problems

| No Comments
The readings for this week were inspired by my interest in the (often troubling) link between children and troublemaking. Why is troublemaking so frequently read and dismissed as a childish activity? What does this move suggest about children as moral and political agents/critical thinkers? How is this move used to discredit troublemakers? How is troublemaking understood as something that one grows out of as they grow up? When they are more mature (more serious)? How is this disdain for the troublemaker reflected in kids' books (like The Book of Time Outs)? I have written about this a lot on my blog. Here are just a few examples:

A Disciplinary Problem? the unruly child as troublemaker
Teaching kids to value troublemaking
The book of time outs, part ii
The time-out as a liminal space of possibility?

And here is what I wrote about J Butler, troublemaking and ethics in this entry:

But, even as scholars have begun to think about ethics and Butler, their attention has frequently been on Butler's Giving an Account of Oneself. What about Gender Trouble? Does it have anything to offer to ethics, feminist, queer or otherwise? Or is it part of a different stage in Butler's thinking? On one hand, I can appreciate the need to turn to other texts. It is true, as Samuel Chambers and Terrell Carver suggest in their introduction to Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics, that an overemphasis on Gender Trouble (which is often the only book that some people think Butler wrote) can obscure our understandings of Butler's contributions to political [and ethical] thought beyond gender and gender performativity (5). However, failing to consider the ethical import of Gender Trouble could be sending the worrisome (well, at least to me) message that troublemaking/troublestaying, which is first and most directly articulated in Gender Trouble, has no ethical value. And often implied in that message is the idea that engaging in the troubling of gender is something that Butler used to promote--that is before she grew up and turned to more serious matters, like ethics and morality.

This idea that Gender Trouble and troublemaking is immature and therefore unethical raises several questions for me: 1. As Butler (and her work) has grown older, has she matured beyond Gender Trouble and troublemaking? Has she replaced her "childishness" and lack of seriousness (playfulness?) with more weighty matters--like being undone, normative violence, grief?; 2. Does one have to be "serious" and mature (that is, not young and immature) in order to engage in ethics? Can we imagine ethical visions that are not predicated on this equation of maturity + seriousness = responsible/accountable and ethical?; and 3. Is troublemaking too playful, too immature, and therefore not ethical?

reading and notetaking for class

Sara's post on "how we think" in relation to notetaking got me thinking about my own notetaking practices. I am generally a fairly linear thinker and take notes in the same way: using lined paper and filling it sequentially with thoughts/ideas from the reading (usually on what I think is important in what the author was trying to say). I write notes/questions/my own thoughts in the margin of the paper.

But when I took notes for my presentation for class, I did it in a completely different way. Mostly, my notes consisted of questions the texts raised and connections to things I have been thinking about in my first semester of graduate school. I think there could be several reasons for this:
  • I had already read two of the texts (hooks and Kumashiro) and so wasn't reading strictly to learn what someone else thought; I had already spent some time digesting it and so didn't need reminders to myself of what their arguments were.
  • I was using a different lens than I had in my previous class (which was about curriculum in education). Since I was thinking about troublemaking, I focused on what the authors' thoughts might be in relation to troublemaking and how to expand upon those ideas.
  • I was conscious that I would be presenting on my own interests in the readings.
So, this leads me to many more questions and wonderings. I don't know if it is possible for me to digest the meaning of something at the same time that I question its meanings and relevance for myself and what I would like to study/think about; this would lead me to read it multiple times, but not in close succession. But I don't really think this is possible given time constraints and work load. And while I understand the importance of having a broad understanding of the work that is out there, does having so much reading make actually working with it too difficult? What would it mean for how I engage with other people's work if I read it multiple times with different lenses? Reading with a certain lens (e.g., troublemaking) is certain to make me miss some meanings and pick up on others; is this okay or a disservice to what the author was working with/on? Is it troublemaking for what is normally considered "academic" work (read: rational, disinterested, impersonal) to read and focus on my interests? Yet if I believe that all knowledge is contextual and that theory should always intersect with practice and lived experience, can I read in any other way? How do I get rid of my difficulties (imposed through years of schooling) believing that bringing myself--even writing, for instance, "I" in a paper--is academic or worthy of study? And, since I think that reading texts and taking notes in this way was very productive for my own thinking, why have I never done it this way before? How does or doesn't this relate to the outline of "critical thinking" Sara showed us in class?

And finally, what is it about thinking about troublemaking that leads me to ask so many questions--many of which are probably unanswerable?

Readings for 2.10


Here's a reminder of what I mentioned in class about the readings for next week:
We will focus our discussion on N'yongo, Singer and Lugones. I have also added Cohen (Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens) and Crenshaw (Demarginalization) for background reading, particularly in relation to the N'yongo. All of these readings are now available on our Web Vista site. Happy Reading!

So, do you ever wonder what your authors look like? Does it/should it make a difference in how you read a text? Here are Maria Lugones and Tavia N'yongo (I couldn't find an image of Linda Singer).

Maria Lugones.jpg image002.jpg

Troubling/trouble in the academy

So this week we are talking about feminist and queer pedagogies. What does it mean to make trouble (or be in trouble) in the academy? Or, what is troubling/troublesome about the academy? There are so many different ways to think about this and I am excited to hear/read some of your thoughts.

In my own work in feminist pedagogy, I am interested in the links between critical thinking/reading and troublemaking. Check out this quicktips on critical reading strategies  (you can also download a pdf version) offered at the U of M Center for Writing website. From a feminist and/or queer perspective, what strategies does it leave out for how to read critically? In what ways does it foster (or does it?) the troubling of texts? What other tips do you think should be offered that could enable students to read texts queerly or through a feminist lens? What if we created our own document for troubling a text?

So, what do your notes look like?

I am always curious about how people think/interpret readings or what their reactions to a film are. What are your methods/strategies for reading a text? Do you take notes in the margins? Highlight? How many times do you read it? What do you look for? Do you have a special pen/pencil that you like to use? What about films? Where there certain ideas/images/scenes from yesterday's film that you were compelled to write about? What sorts of notes did you make about those important moments?

I have just created a new category for this blog: How we think.... I thought we could use it to post questions or reflections about the process of thinking, reading, engaging. Here is my first contribution: An excerpt from my very messy notes from yesterday's film.

Picture 4.png