Revolution Lullabye

January 29, 2007

Race, Rhetoric, and Composition Chapters 7 & 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 5:38 pm

Gilyard, Keith, ed. Race, Rhetoric, and Composition. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc., 1999.

Chapter 7

Murray, Robert D. Jr. “Power, Conflict, and Contact: Re-constructing Authority in the Classroom.” 87-103.

In Murray’s essay, he explores the complex issue of authority in a writing classroom that takes up multicultural issues. He argues that if you transform your classroom into a “contact zone,” (Mary Louise Pratt) the instructor must abdicate some of his or her power to allow the students to grapple with issues of race and ethnicity, which are bound to cause conflicts between both fellow students and the students and the teacher. He suggests that teachers try to establish collaborative authority with their students. Murray also discusses the types of student resistance to multiculturalism. He terms the most common type of resistance – subtle rather than than openly angry – reconstitution because the students will find a way to appropriate their past held beliefs on multiculturalism on the instructor’s own rhetoric to make it seem as if they are “buying” what the teacher and the texts are arguing. He describes one of his former students, who he believes reconstituted multicultural beliefs by writing about reverse racism. At the end of his article, Murray argues that challenging students to see whiteness as a pervasive power stucture on society will allow them to more critically examine dominant and minority culture and their place within them.

Quotable Quotes

“Therefore, to engage in a problem-posing pedagogy is to seek to deconstruct and expose these principles of ‘white’ power, and, in fact, such an act of deconstruction is at the heart of any attempt to decenter classroom power. The most effective way to work against a student’s reconstituted resistance of my redefining of white authority is to transcend the very construct of implicit power-based authority, unveiling for al what has historically constituted the source of that authority in the first place” (100).

“Student resistance is the unavoidable result of the multicultural, contact-zoned classroom, and is not necessarily a bad thing” (101).

About reconstitution: “I call this type of resistance reconstitution because the student reconstitutes the nature of the polarity he sees at the heart of the classroom discussion as a means to reconfigure the authority in that classroom and to make his experiences compete with the textual expressions of authors whose messages he resists” (95).

Chapter 8

Peters, Brad. “Coming to Voice: ‘Anger Disguised and Complex, Not Anger Simple and Open.” 104-123.

Peters’ article centers around a case study of one of his students, “Tia,” who is an African-American woman confronting issues of racial and gender discrimination through the readings in his course, his course assignments, and the classroom discussions that take place over the semester. He states that the overall purpose of his essay is to suggest how Tia’s story “might shed light on what teachers can do to accommodate the needs of women of color in a multicultural curriculum,” which to him, can exclude “the very students it is meant to support” (106). Peters’ assignments ask students to approach texts subjectively, not objectively. Through intersubjective reading, students’ interpretations of the text are informed by their own experiences, allowing them to make the personal political (121).

Quotable Quotes

“Much of the material [for classroom study and discussion] can come from the personal experiences students write about, the conversations they have with others, and hte resources they find in contact zones outside the classroom. This approach to the multicultural curriculum, ultimately, is what enabled Tia to go beyond merely hodling her own. It guided Tia and her classmates toward an intersubjective stance and the beginnings of an emancipatory conversation” (122).

“Intersubjective reading provides the intellectual site where individual readers and writers may practice participation in various discourse communities, to pursue their rightful intent to be heard, and to negotiate an understanding of difference in ways that the world cannot silence or erase” (121).

“Even if the noncanonical text has more recently become evident in composition classrooms, Susan Gabriel has observed taht school training often forces women readers – and most ironically, women of color – ‘to think as [white] men, to identify with a [white] male point of view, and to accept as normal and legitimate a [white] male system of values’ (129). The phenomena of immasculation and inculturation, therefore, may lead students and teachers alike to subvert a noncanonical text by imposing on it – even unintentionally – a model of reading that objectifies women of color from the very aspects that can connect them to the text and empower them as readers. The result is that the text retains its authority, and the student remains outside that authority” (115).


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