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Curriculum as Community Building

The Poetics of Difference, Emergence, and Relationality


Liesa Griffin Smith

Our contemporary historical moment is often characterized by social, political, economic, technological, and educational complexities, as well as lived experiences of estrangement, isolation, insecurity, loss, threat, and trauma. Within this difficult context, conventional understandings of community which often rely upon assimilation or exclusion are devoid of hope, and new imaginations of community and community building are needed to cultivate generative, nurturing, sustaining experiences of life together. Through a multi-threaded exploration of the curriculum as embodied and emerging in a living ecosystem, new conceptualizations of community building may emerge. Drawing upon poststructural feminism, poetics, autobiography, and metaphors of the maternal body, this book explores the complicated intersections of difference, embodiment, emergence, and relationality within the curriculum, to reimagine the possibilities of building the other community, one inclusive of difference. Facing the challenges of our time with hope, grace, and creativity, this book is uniquely positioned in a middle space between the theoretical concerns of the academic community and the needs for accessibility by the practitioner within an instructional context.
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I remember myself at 19, unsure, without much direction, and struggling to arrive on time to the Composition II class I was taking at Tulsa Junior College. A miracle happened in that class, and through the compassion and clarity of sight and voice, my teacher, Mrs. Paula Sullivan, helped me come to see I could write, and more than that, she helped me begin to see myself. Because of her, I was no longer completely invisible to myself. There is a precise piece of thread tying this book to her voice in my life some 30 year ago, and for that I am immeasurably grateful.

Our living journeys are not solitary, but always-already interconnected, and in this way, I have been blessed by the voices and lives of many women—symbolic and actual mothers, sisters, daughters and fellow-pilgrims who have journeyed with me and encouraged my becoming and my work. For these women of strength, I am also exceedingly grateful: Dr. Carolyn Griffin, Genyce Griffin Goodchild, Catherine Rutledge, Elizabeth Griffin, Suzanna Smith, Bella Smith, EmmaJoy Smith, Deborah Erpelding, Julie Wright, Dr. Naomi Najita Poindexter, Dr. Cathy Bankston, Dr. Ellen McCoy, Dr. Allyson Watson, and Dr. Hongyu Wang. And similarly, I am exceedingly grateful for the faithful care, support, encouragement of my son, Levi Smith, ←xi | x→and the steady friendship of Eric Doss, Jesse Stallings, Daniel Sharples, and Dan Hahn, all men of compassion, resourcefulness, creativity, and kindness.

This book is also indebted to the scholarship...

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