Recently in Process/ing Category

Bill Nye the Science Guy Pictures, Images and Photos

My professor from back home just posted this story on fb, and i thought it would add significantly to our twitter discussion. The title reads, "If the Science Guy passes out and nobody tweets it, did it happen?" The article centers on Bill Nye the science guy's collapse at USC. Apparently, before going to his aid, students consulted twitter and fb, while some even posted pictures. This is interesting when we consider that it may very well not have been "real" until the students put this out in the social media world...or whatever that means...
even more disturbing is the murder of Anthony Barre aka "Messy Mya" and the role of the internet played in his "documenting" his death (this link is from the original Bill Nye article).

what do you all think??

Academic alienations

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At an event celebrating a festival where families with children got together to eat traditional food and burst crackers. Men sat down in the living room and discussed politics, economics and in general the state of the world, while women hovered around the kitchen talking about recipes, children's lives and stuff about 'back home' (in India). I was aware about my abnormality of being a single 'girl' pursuing a PhD program: a 'child woman' yet to 'grow up', for I'm truly mature when I have children (and married). Alienated from the conversation that the women are engaged in about their 'private' lives and excluded from the 'intellectual' conversation about the 'public' world, clearly not for women: married or unmarried.

Funny thing this 'privilege' does to women.

blogging, accessibility and video "voices" on the web

This video was recently posted on my facebook page, and I thought I would share. I wondered if it had gotten as much attention as the "so you want to get a job in the humanities" video that made its rounds throughout several social media sites. Here, Sarah Palin and Larry King discuss the upcoming performance Adelina Anthony a self-identified "Xicana-Indígena lesbian multi-disciplinary artista."

Agitation and the internet


Notsexist.jpgAs we talk about the value and voices in new media this coming week, I thought I'd point out two interactions that took place recently that I heard about via the blogosphere.

Incident 1 happened when an internet cartoonist, Kate Beaton, lodged a complaint about sexist "compliments" to her fans. Not only that, she did it via Twitter, which gave her the "opportunity" to engage with everybody who couldn't see where she was coming from. Someone summed up the fallout in this comic, (the panel above is an excerpt of same). The whole thing makes an interesting case study along several parameters: the use of Twitter; the engagement between fans and "heroes"; the lateral discourse aspect. More importantly, I think it's worth interrogating whether the glibness fostered by short-form media like comics and Tweets is too brief to really unpack a problem? Or whether Tweets and comments are actually perfect for such discourse because of the back-and-forth they permit? Finally, the gender essentialism and stable identities Orner critiques are rather heavily evinced in the comic.

Second example is brief, but pertinent to last week's reading, which mentioned the Hollaback campaign. Well, the group got New York City lawmakers to discuss commissioning a study to explore the problem, and maybe begin steps to curb it, possibly including awareness campaigns, legislation, or "no harassment zones" around schools.
So yes, young feminists can be reached at this (web) address.

Reflections on my "live-tweet" for Queering Desire

I just posted an entry on my trouble blog about the "live-tweet" that I did for my queering desire class yesterday. Check it out and let me know what you think (this post includes a transcript of my entire live-tweet...all 52 tweets!). Here's an excerpt:

As I have mentioned before, I am experimenting with twitter this semester. In both of my classes (qued2010femped2010), students are required to use it for various assignments and I am using it to communicate with class. Over the past month, several of my students in feminist pedagogies have live-tweeted class as a way to take notes for our discussion (I suggested it as an option for their note-taking assignment). Because I always like to try the experimental assignments that I suggest to my students (for lots of reasons, such as: I need to be willing to take the same risks that I expect my students to take and I want to make sure that the experiments that I come up with our actually doable), I decided to live-tweet my queering desire class yesterday. I'm really glad that I did. Here are some reflections on the process:

Background: The class usually has 25+ students in attendance. It is an upper Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies course that is cross-listed as a mid-level GLBT Studies course. Blogging and tweeting are central to the class. Yesterday's class was devoted to a discussion lead by a student group (part of their diablog assignment). We were talking about James Kincaid's essay "Producing Erotic Children" in Curiouser. Because I was not responsible for leading class, I thought it was a good opportunity to try out live-tweeting. Instead of tweeting as the class administrator (qued2010), I tweeted as myself (undiscplined).

thoughts on critical thinking

Critical thinking is trying to figure out how much of 'you' and 'I' is individual and how much of an individual's thoughts and actions are created/shaped through larger structures and discourse- on race, nationality, class, gender etc. It involves thinking about what is the role of people in this larger picture. Are we puppets or semi-puppets? That's why positivist research makes sense, I think, because most of us live like that. Critical thinking is about giving up living and thinking as atoms governed by larger, unseen forces under the illusion of having free will and thought. This requires seeing the forces first, breaking the illusion that my thoughts are mine completely-- and resisting them so that we gain agency. So that we are truly in control of what we think at least and perhaps do. So that, when I say 'I' it means 'I'. So that, knowing that we could go with the flow, we can choose to sit in the driver's seat- risky, freedom, excitement, independence, responsibility- or not and accept safety and dependency. Is this possible? How much agency can we gain, as individuals, collectively? Agency in the sense of knowing where is the 'I' and the 'we' coming from.

Where is the place for emotions? Rationalistic thought would say kill/ignore it to stay in control. Critical thinking requires us to listen to what our emotions are saying. Guilt is doing/not doing something when we should/shouldn't have. Questioning this feeling- Who says we should/should not do something? Do we take this dictum for granted or is it valid? Why do we hate/feel jealous? Why do we love or like to be loved? Is there a difference? Why do we get angry/defensive- is it because we realize we are puppets?

Critical Thinking and Food


I'm unsure where this post fits into our blog, but its just a connection I saw in a reading I had for another class, and what we read in Teaching to Transgress and discussed in class today. In "Essentialism and Experience," bell hooks says, "sometimes, I tell students, it [critical thinking?] is like a recipe. I tell them to imagine we are baking bread that needs flour. And we have all the other ingredients but no flour. Suddenly, the flour becomes most important even though it alone will not do. This is a way to think about experience in the classroom" (91-92). I feel this is a metaphor for the process of critical thinking where people come together with different viewpoints stemming from experience, and this multiple perspectives meld in various ways to engage people in enlightening or troubling ways. Various views and experiences- the flour make critical thinking happen in the classroom.

After class tonight I was reading George Eliot's Middlemarch and a particular passage I read resonated with my understanding of the previous quote I mentioned by hooks. The passage is an afterthought to an argument occurring between two characters, and it is, "our passions do not live apart in locked chambers, but, dressed in their small wardrobe of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess together, feeding out of the common store according to their appetite" (156). This passage could also point to what critical thought could be in that various people/voices/viewpoints converge around a table which can become messy, but it could be a productive mess since it engages people in critically assessing their viewpoints in relation to others'. I also think this quote/metaphor is helpful to envision what the space of feminist classroom could look like. Learners--like diners--sit in a circle around a table all looking at each other while something is shared whether its voices/viewpoints/perspectives or food. Or both in regard to our class, and I think all the food that was brought to our class tonight helped me think through these connections.

1) White Hat- information (paper)
2) Yellow Hat-"what is positive" (sunshine)
3) Black Hat- "what is negative" (judges robe)
4) Green Hat- creativity, "what can you do with it?" (flowers)
5) Blue Hat- overview (sky)

Anytime anyone asks me how the class I am teaching is going, I find that I often that my response is often a confused explanation. I usually explain that the class that I'm teaching only meets once a week and only for 2 hours. I find that the communication with my students is very limited outside of our weekly two hour discussion. I have office hours, yet no one ever comes. The only emails I receive from my students are to excuse their absence. During class, it is always the same students that continually engage with the material and the same students that sit quietly observing. I want to know what they are all thinking about the discussion, about the readings, and about the class. (I decided that the next time I teach, I NEED to have a blog set up so that there can at least be the option of having a forum available for students to participate, if they choose to, that is separate from the classroom setting). I find that I ask a lot of questions about the format of the class, how they are progressing with their work and if our class discussions are helpful. I value their opinion and I want them to "get something" out our two hours a week. They usually all nod and agree that they "like it." They don't challenge me, at all.

The Privilege of Questioning: Pedagogical Example #2

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While I am not teaching a university class this semester, I am trying to use our class readings and discussion to think more critically about my ethnographic work. As part of that project, I am doing an internship (which I did not have before this work began) with an employment service organization geared toward welfare recipients and refugees. The employment service program is voluntary, but because it is linked with welfare and other benefits, there are a number of rules and 'sanctions' involved.

As part of my internship role, I lead classes about writing resumes, having interviews, and job-specific ESL courses. In fem ped class last week, I began thinking about the Freirien (sp?) model of teaching, and how it is constrained by organizational format as well as personal contingencies. So, for instance, someone in our fem ped class last week brought up the difficulties of implementing this sort of teaching in a more practical class setting.

In the non-profit setting, I think it is important to consider the ways in which the organization/client dynamic strongly hinders a more dialogic model. Sociologist Nina Eliasoph, in her 2009 article "Top-Down Civic Projects Are Not Grassroots Associations: how the differences matter in everyday life", recalls an instance in which participants/clients at one organization were asked to talk about their personal experiences with something. However, each person who spoke talked about their experiences with the organization. So here we see how powerful the role of 'client' becomes, and how difficult can be to transgress that role, especially when the possibility of sanctions or punishment are so overt.

In addition to the organizational dynamics impeding more reflexive/dialogic mode of interaction, many of the folks at this organization where I work have limited English skills. The idea of allowing/expecting them to pose questions or critiques disregards the facts that they have limited tools with which to do so in this space. One mode of action, at least in this particular instance, would be to push the people in power at this organization to bring in more Somali or Somali-speaking interns that could make posing questions in this space easier.

Another option might be, as I think the practical an theoretical questions for this week hint at, allowing for different forms of resistance other than verbal questioning, in which I am at the center of conversation. What would that look like?

Political pedagogy

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I've been chewing on something since the last class period, and I want to put it out there before today's class carries us far, far away forever.

As an undergrad, I had a history professor—just the one, to my knowledge—who was a self-professed conservative. It was a leftist institution, and he'd been there for decades—at least since the seventies (arguably the nadir of the school's political consciousness). I might not've known what to make of him, but I'm fairly sure he knew what to expect from us.

His self-admission left me wary. I scrutinized his lectures for bias; some ideas snagged my filter for later, more careful evaluation. Some things he said have turned over in my head to this day, and I still debate their ideological content. Around that semester, a Holocaust-denier organization was buying ad space in college newspapers to publish their inflammatory screeds, and our campus was in an uproar over whether we were going to allow the ad purchase. Prof asked what we students really meant when we spoke as a campus of tolerance: active support? Permitting hate speech? Merely not slugging somebody we didn't like? As a minority voice in our context, I imagined the question was germane for him.

I think of this guy for two reasons. One, it makes me reflect on my own position and agenda, and where the the line should fall when it comes to responsibly deploying these in a classroom. Peering across an ideological gulf at a faculty member is daunting, and being allowed the space to resist felt respectful.
Two, the memory points to some strategies for dealing with oppositional viewpoints. Complicating the perspectives of contrarians rather than reversing them. Making space. Posing a question and letting it abide unresolved. And would that I could get one of those lodged in a student's head for a decade or two.

On more 'practical' teaching- Pedagogical Example #1

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As part of an ethnographic project, I am spending some time as an intern at an organization that helps people build their job skills. Many of the people are in a welfare-to-work program, others are refugees, and still others are simply 'community members.'

As an intern, I help lead some skills based classes (resumes and interviews), and I also sit in on a peer group. I am given almost free reign on how I structure the classes, so I'm struggling with what my role should be. Should I try to simply go by the book, or should I try to (at least incrementally) change the system? To what ends would this change occur?

Most of the readings we have encountered in this class so far focus on the women's studies classroom, or at least a classroom context in which feminist studies can be easily included. I wonder, though, to what extent these ideas can be operationalized beyond a liberal-arts classroom?

[What have those of you in more 'pragmatic' disciplines thought? ]

At the most basic level, I want to try to find a way to help these women and men feel some sort of agency in the class, instead of having it be a solely top-down process. However, I struggle implementing this for a few reasons. First, many of the people are not there on a completely voluntary basis. Rather, they are there because their counselor (vis-a-vis the state) tells them to.

Moreover, how do I shift the dynamics of knowledge production in teaching something like resume or interview skills? I try to spend a significant amount of time having each participant share their own experiences with the topics, and I encourage them to share throughout the session. What other tactics might help?

Finally, how can I feel good about helping funnel these women and men into a low paying, often oppressive job system? How can I be critical of (and help them be critical of) the very system I am working for?

3 weeks in...some thoughts

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I love the idea of using our blog space as a place for processing our experiences with social media in/out of the classroom. Sometimes it can be hard to take the time to do this because I am so overwhelmed with the semester, classes, conference papers, and meetings (oh, and two young kids). But, I think it is an important (and very rewarding) part of the experience. I have already been doing some of this reflecting on my other cyberspaces (maybe I have too many cyberspaces?). I wrote about twitter on my diablogical blog. And I wrote about the potential limits of social media on my trouble blog. I have also done a few tweets on @undisciplined. Now it's time to do some reflecting here. 

So far, I like twitter. It is a fun place to experiment with new ways to engage and express ourselves. Here are a few things I have tried so far (in class and this summer):

  • Switching back and forth between the "official" class accounts and my personal account as a way to negotiate and play with my different roles/selves
  • Live-tweeting a reading in order to document my process of engagement with the author/ideas
  • Using tweets for tech support (using twit pics for visual reference) in order to provide students with quick advice.
  • Using tweets for archiving my own ideas and research 
  • Using my tweets to serve as models (of what to do...or not to do) for students
One thing that I am noticing about twitter is that so much of it is about immediacy. Sometimes it can be hard to find past tweets (ones that might have just been posted a few hours ago). How can we manage all of this information? And, as was mentioned in our femped class this week, how do we keep up and engage with others' ideas? What are some strategies that we can use to address these issues? Do we need to build in a designated time for tweeting with each other? Hmm...that sounds interesting...I just had an idea for a new experiment. What if we established a certain time that we would be on twitter and then we all had a twitter-conversation? Or, what if we created twitter reading/study/mentor groups? As I write this, I think I want to try having some twitter office hours (I know others have done this on facebook). 

BTW: The ideas above were generated as I was writing this entry. I really like how blog writing helps me to think, reflect and imagine new possibilities. 

What do you think about twitter? How do you want to experiment with it?

potential of social media


I'm not sure what category of the blog this falls under, but since our class on Wednesday I have been thinking all week about the potential of social media. Since I am a generally contrary person, spending so much time thinking about potential is a new thing for me and one that I have really enjoyed. I've been inspired to sign up for Twitter and try to shuck off my fears and distrust of online life (not completely, but within reason) by going fully public and actively seeking engagement with other scholars I don't yet know. While I haven't yet gotten the hang of how to feel like I am engaging rather than making disjunct statements (I think this has something to do with those pesky hashtags), I think I am really starting to see ways that Twitter can at least help me think on a daily basis about the relationship between what I do in the academy and what is of interest to those outside the academy.

Separately, I am refining my distrust of social media to be less about corporations as Big Brothers tracking my beliefs and realizing that perhaps the biggest risk to my privacy are actually the "friends" with whom I am sharing (see this week's This American Life for the inspiration).

I think all of this has enormous potential for my ability to engage with students online in more productive ways.