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Queer Theory and Feminist Pedagogy

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Part of the Comparative Feminist Studies Series book series (CFS)

Abstract

I have been writing (and not writing) this essay for more than a year now. What has made it so difficult to finish? For one thing, like most college teachers, I was trained in a field (literary studies) not in teaching, and I don’t usually write about pedagogy—I just do it. More significantly, the problems I planned to address here—specifically my teaching of a queer theory course (“Practical Feminist Criticism: Across Gender, Race, and Sexuality”) in a particular semester (Fall 1996), from a particular identity position (heterosexual woman)—can’t be contained in a neat narrative of what happened that semester; they refuse to stay put for at least two reasons. One, what I experienced in teaching illuminates and is illuminated by current theoretical debates between feminism, gay/lesbian studies, and queer theory; two, the issues of identity and authority surrounding my teaching the course have been replicated (though with a difference) in working on this essay. The question of who gets to teach or speak in the classroom also becomes a question of authorial authority: Who am I to write this essay? The anxiety surfaced in a different form when I attended seminars with Judith Butler and Leo Bersani in the summer of 1999; there I was a student not a teacher, and a novice compared to my classmates (especially in the Bersani seminar) who were on the whole much younger than I am. In addition, there still seems to be a risk to doing this work.

Keywords

  • Feminist Pedagogy
  • Identity Politics
  • Feminist Criticism
  • African American Study
  • Queer Theory

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Thanks go to Hamilton College for generous support, in particular Dean of Faculty Bobby Fong and President Eugene M. Tobin for making my attendance at the Berkeley Seminar possible. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the students in my seminar, Comparative Literature 391, for pushing me to think through the issues I raise here. I also want to thank Sascha Arbouet, Adinah Bradberry, Rebecca Libed, and Stuart Murray for their crucial research assistance; Patricia Cholakian, Lydia Hamessley, Stuart Murray, Peter Rabinowitz, John Ricco and Julie Zuckerman for their perceptive and challenging comments on earlier versions; the members of the Butler and Bersani Berkeley Summer Research Seminars for conversations about queer pedagogy (especially Chris Nealon, John Ricco, Kelly Younger, Heather Lukes, Britt-Marie Schiller). And I thank my dear colleagues and editors, Amie and Susan, for inviting me to contribute to the volume, for waiting for my paper, and for their careful and rigorous reading.

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© 2002 Amie Macdonald and Susan Sánchez-Casal

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Rabinowitz, N.S. (2002). Queer Theory and Feminist Pedagogy. In: Macdonald, A.A., Sánchez-Casal, S. (eds) Twenty-First-Century Feminist Classrooms. Comparative Feminist Studies Series. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230107250_8

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