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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs

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Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

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.
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Chapter Six: How I Met Foucault: An Intellectual Career in, Around, and Near Queer Theory

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CHAPTER SIX

How I Met Foucault: An Intellectual Career in, Around, and Near Queer Theory

KRISTEN A. RENN

 

1.

“Over the weekend we got goldfish. We named one Foucault and the other Derrida. But Derrida already died. So we’re thinking Foucault’s ‘I’m not really pomo’ critique of modernism may have a better future in theoretical circles.”

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Who are Derrida and Foucault and what’s pomo?”

That was how I first met Foucault—in a conversation with two undergrads at Brown in the early 1990s. I was working as a student affairs administrator—with one-third of my job dedicated to being the Liaison for Gay and Lesbian Issues, whatever “issues” those might be. Like many early folks in the professional niche that evolved into the contemporary area of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) campus resources, I came to the work after a series of well- publicized homophobic incidents precipitated a campus climate study and formation of a taskforce on gay and lesbian “concerns.” At least the term issues was a step forward from concerns.

I studied psychology and music history as an undergrad and educational leadership as a master’s student and never ran into poststructuralism, postmodernism, Michel, or Jacques along the way. The inscrutable semiotics majors at Brown—with their black turtlenecks and hipster eyeglasses—spoke of things postmodern,...

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