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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs

by sj Miller (Volume editor) Nelson M. Rodriguez (Volume editor)
Textbook XXIV, 225 Pages
  • Library Access

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Critical Praxis of Queer Memoirs in Education
  • Part 1: Queer Paranoia: To Risk or Not to Risk
  • Chapter One: Contingent Labor, Contingently Queer
  • Chapter Two: Queer Paranoia: Worrying About and Through a Queer Dissertation Study
  • Chapter Three: Reconciling the Personal and Professional: Coming Out From the Classroom Closet
  • Part 2: Queered Tensions: Beyond the Academy
  • Chapter Four: Remaining Stubbornly Faithful: What Queering Academia Does to Queer Teacher-Scholars
  • Chapter Five: Inside. Out. Queer Time in Midcareer
  • Chapter Six: How I Met Foucault: An Intellectual Career in, Around, and Near Queer Theory
  • Part 3: Queering Academic Spaces: Renarrating Lives
  • Chapter Seven: From Doctoral Student to Dr. Sweetie Darling: My Queer(ing) Journey in Academia
  • Chapter Eight: Working With and Within: Weaving Queer Spaces With Cycles of Resistance
  • Chapter Nine: Adopting a Queer Pedagogy as a Teaching Assistant
  • Chapter Ten: Sanctioning Unsanctioned Texts: The True Story of a Gay Writer
  • Part 4: Misrecognition: From Invisibility Into Visibility
  • Chapter Eleven: (Un)becoming Trans*: Every Breath You Take and Every …
  • Chapter Twelve: Queering the Inquiry Body: Critical Science Teaching From the Margins
  • Chapter Thirteen: Intersectional Warrior: Battling the Onslaught of Layered Microaggressions in the Academy
  • Chapter Fourteen: Undone and (Mis)Recognized: Disorienting Experiences of a Queer, Trans* Educator
  • Part 5: The Political Is Personal
  • Chapter Fifteen: Slam Dunk on Tenure? Not So Fast …
  • Chapter Sixteen: Queering South Mississippi: Simple and Seemingly Impossible Work
  • Chapter Seventeen: Smear the Queer: A Critical Memoir
  • Chapter Eighteen: “I heard it from a good source”: Queer Desire and Homophobia in a South African Higher Education Institution
  • Part 6: Queered All the Way Through
  • Chapter Nineteen: A Profound Moment of Passing
  • Chapter Twenty: Being Queer in Academia ←→ Queering Academia
  • Chapter Twenty-One: The Constant in My Life
  • Contributors
  • Series index

← x | xi →

Foreword

JEN GILBERT

 

I don’t know who I would have become had I not, more than 20 years ago, applied to grad school. I was not a particularly good student, my family was happily surprised that I went to university at all, but in my final year I took an English course on gay drama. We traveled from Vancouver to Seattle to see the touring production of Angels in America; we drank wine and ate cheese at our professor’s bungalow in Surrey, and I wrote an essay about John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation. I imagine I did this, in part, because something about my own struggles at the university seemed illuminated in the scheming and lovable conman, Paul, who convinces a wealthy Upper-West Side family that he is the son of Sidney Poitier—a familiar feeling, perhaps, given the well-documented alienation of gender, sexual, class, and racial minorities in the university. I received an A+ on the paper—the highest grade I had ever received—and so decided to con my way in the grad school. Now, many years later, the university is my home, but I still sometimes feel I got away with something, that I could be asked to give back my degrees, and that exiled from the university, I could easily find myself homeless.

The university is a fickle home for many of the contributors to this volume—it is at once the ground for our emergence as scholars. That we write here, in a book devoted to exploring the experiences of LGBTQ academics, marks our debt to the university and the texts, ideas, and relationships we encounter there. But contributors also painfully note the ways the university fails to offer a welcoming home to LGBTQ people, ideas, and communities. I suspect this contradiction sits at the heart of much scholarship. Contributors to this volume have all made enormous ← xi | xii → political, social, and emotional commitments to the university; they trace the ways their thinking and erotic selves are indebted to institutional life, and yet, the casualties pile up: the rise of precarious labor, racist microaggressions, violence against trans* students and faculty, the corporatization of the university, ongoing hostility toward queer studies and scholars. It is an ambivalent relation.

In the memoirs collected here, we find stories of love and alienation. At their best, these narratives come close to what Janet Miller (2005) describes as “autobiography as a queer curriculum practice”—stories that shift “from modernist emphasis on producing predictable, stable, and normative identities … [toward] a consideration of ‘selves’ and curricula as sites of ‘permanent openness’” (p. 302). Noticing how one can go to graduate school and fall in love—belatedly, reservedly—with Foucault, and then also feel betrayed by the university’s failure to protect the rights of trans* students, Kristen Renn, in this volume, uses memoir to reimagine her becoming as a scholar as an ongoing, open process of understanding her alienation and privilege. In another chapter, Catherine Lugg describes how her life as a queer scholar was enfranchised by the university—as an assistant professor, a mentor encouraged her to pursue a queer research agenda—and then both imperiled and restored by institutional logics of the university after a tenure scare. Caught always within the machinations of institutional life, these memoirs create a space to “help us dis-identify with ourselves and others” (Miller, p. 303); the memoir can expose what Britzman (1997) calls “the tangles of implication.” Through the memoir, we can begin to notice ourselves noticing the world. One of the challenges, then, that these memoirs pose for readers and the field of educational scholarship is that as some of us find and make our home in the university, we must remember those struggles and communities that can get tossed aside when we only celebrate the steady march of “progress.” The professional lives of queer scholars of color, increasing the visibility of trans* students and faculty, the poverty of adjunct professors, and the rise of discourses of accountability in schools—a new research and activist agenda for LGBTQ scholars would put these communities and issues at the center of our efforts.

REFERENCES

Britzman, D. (1997). The tangles of implication. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 10(1), 31–37.

Miller, J. L. (2005). Sounds of silence breaking: Women, autobiography, curriculum. New York: Peter Lang.

← xii | xiii →

Acknowledgments

 

Queers have been part of the academy since its creation. Fear and institutional policies, however, have created constraints that have kept those academics from being their authentic selves. Our work attempts to document part of that process and bring voice to those scholars who refuse to let past be prelude to future. We are deeply honored to have amassed such brave and forthright scholars who honor us, the field, and each other to advance collective understanding and empathy toward those we work with in the academy, the students we serve, the colleagues with whom we interact, and those coming into and being mentored and apprenticed to serve within the academy. We hope these memoirs offer healing to those who have been traumatized by institutional neglect and overt abuse and hope to the now and future of all those beautiful souls currently in and coming into education.

sj thanks Nelson, one of the most fabulous, passionate, and queer intellectuals sj has ever met. Thank you for inviting me to work and learn alongside you. Nelson thanks sj for being, well, amazing. What an honor and privilege it has been to work with someone as talented, thoughtful, and brilliant as sj Miller. sj also wants to thank my chosen family: Cynthia Tyson, JA Alston, Shirley Steinberg, Eelco Buitenhuls, Susan Groenke, Kevin Kumashiro, Nicole Sieben, Amber Kim, Alison and Jason Boardman, Nicole Plotkin, Kristen Renn, Cynthia Lewis, Penny Pence, Les Burns, David Kirkland, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Jessica Zacher, Amanda Godley, Amanda Thein, Ebony Thomas, Darrell Hucks, David Carlson, Stephanie Shelton, Maryann Shaening, Ron Pokrasso, Lynne Canning, Danielle Gothie, Penny ← xiii | xiv → Pence, Betsy Noll, Don Zancanella, Glenabah Martinez, Sue Hopewell, Kathy Escamilla, Channell Wilson-Segura, Rachel Hess, Mike Wenk, Janet Alsup, Lisa Eckert, Sandy Lassen, Eliot Lew, Briann and Mel Shear, Margaret Sheehy, Kevin Leander, Chris Iddings, Tonya Perry, Cathy Fleisher, Cathy Compton-Lilly, Todd and Diane Smith, Nelson Graff, Bettina Love, and Cris Mayo.

sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

← xiv | xv →

Introduction

The Critical Praxis of Queer Memoirs in Education

sj MILLER AND NELSON M. RODRIGUEZ

 

When we initially conceived the idea for Educators Queering Academia: Critical Memoirs, it came from a space of remembering. As tenured queer educators not only did we want to remember those who forged diverse paths that have created the conditions for many of us in the present to be able to do queer work in academia, we also wanted to honor their tenacious and indomitable spirits. Their efforts, to be sure, have been formative for us in so many impactful ways that we were called to archive as many of our queer educational histories as possible that demonstrate diverse lineages and intersectionalities. From this perspective, we reached out to at least several dozen queer educators, including former, current, those new to the profession, and even those still yet-to-come, to share with us the ways in which they have queered, are queering, or will queer academia. What we compiled represents a cross-section of memoirs of those who responded to the call.

For this book, we utilize “queer” as an umbrella category referencing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and emerging categories (LGBTI+), as well as work specifically in queer theory arising out of poststructuralism and the postmodern turn in sexuality studies. We recognize that embedded in this usage are theoretical and political tensions between identitarian and non-identitarian approaches to thinking about gender/sexual identities and categories and their intersections with other categories of social difference. Nevertheless, we have opted for this usage because some of the authors in this volume identify with more “conventional” categories, such as gay or lesbian, but who also adopt a queer approach to ← xv | xvi → their curriculum and/or pedagogy. Others might adopt queer as a nonbinary identification but be committed, for political reasons, to teaching about more “stable” LGBTI, histories, and subjects. And others in this volume might, concomitantly, blend their support for identity politics with a queer sense of self (e.g., queerly lesbian) … and so on. Thus, we identify queer not as relegated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*1/ transgender, intersex, (a)gender/(a)sexual,2 gender creative, expansive or fluid,3 and questioning (LGBT*IAGCQ) people, but inclusive of a broad range of identities, experiences, and approaches to teaching and research that ultimately aims to interrogate and disrupt what is perceived as (hetero and cis)normative structures within academia. In this way, our use of queer embraces the freedom to move beyond, between, or even away from, yet even to later return to (myriad) identity categories that support the perpetual reinvention of the self within the context and concerns of an antihegemonic queer politics and praxis.

Informed by this broad and ever-expanding definition of queer, this collection represents a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars including the senior, mid, and junior levels, postdocs, as well as the doctoral level, and collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archives and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, national origin, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, sexual orientation, disability, ability, socioeconomic status, religion, spirituality, age, veteran status, health status, height, weight, and so forth. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.

The volume is organized into six parts with various themes: (1) Queer Paranoia: To Risk or Not to Risk; (2) Queered Tensions: Beyond the Academy; (3) Queering Academic Spaces: Renarrating Lives; (4) Misrecognition: From Invisibility into Visibility; (5) The Political Is Personal; and (6) Queered All the Way Through. Each theme is described below and includes a cluster of chapters representing that theme. We welcome and hope that our readers will critically reflect along with the memoirs in each part. Indeed, educators, scholars, students, activists, artists, and other cultural workers in the academy (and beyond) with an interest in the general topic of queering education, and with an interest in the more specific topic of queering academia, will find this book useful, especially in light of the ongoing centrality and developments of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and the ever-emerging issues within and beyond academia ← xvi | xvii → and on a global scale. Our long-term hope is that our volume will inspire and spur other interested folks to continue the work of archiving the narratives of educators/queers queering academia.

PART 1: QUE ER PARANOIA: TO RISK OR NOT TO RISK

Summary

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.

Details

Pages
XXIV, 225
ISBN (PDF)
9781453918777
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433136207
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433136214
ISBN (Book)
9781433134302
Language
English
Publication date
2016 (August)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XXIV, 225 pp.

Biographical notes

sj Miller (Volume editor) Nelson M. Rodriguez (Volume editor)

sj Miller is Deputy Director of Educational Equity Supports and Services at the Metro Center of NYU and Associate Professor of Literacy Studies at CU Boulder. sj is a committee member, consultant, advisory board member, mentor, co-editor, and co-chair of numerous organizations, committees, and publications. sj is the recipient of numerous awards with works appearing in a number of journals. Nelson M. Rodriguez teaches sexuality and queer studies in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at The College of New Jersey. His research areas span queer studies and education, critical masculinity studies, and Foucault studies. His most recent publications are Queer Masculinities: A Critical Reader in Education and Queering Straight Teachers: Discourse and Identity in Education.

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