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Framing Identities: Autobiography and the Politics of Pedagogy

Wendy S. Hesford
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttt41
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  • Book Info
    Framing Identities
    Book Description:

    How do historically marginalized groups expose the partiality and presumptions of educational institutions through autobiographical acts? How are the stories we tell used to justify resistance to change or institutional complacency? These are the questions Wendy S. Hesford asks as she considers the uses of autobiography in educational settings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8916-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: FRAMES WITHIN FRAMES
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction: AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY ON CAMPUS
    (pp. xix-xxxviii)

    Asian-American students at Oberlin College organized a speak-out during the fall of 1995 to increase support for Asian-American Studies and to educate the community about the twenty-five-year struggle for its development at the college. Speakers at the rally summoned administrators, faculty, and their fellow students to interrogate the promises of Oberlin’s progressive legacy upon which the college has built its image. Oberlin College is a selective residential liberal arts college with a long history of social consciousness and commitment to equal rights shaped by the values of Western liberalism and by missionary imperatives.¹

    Despite Oberlin College’s legacy of progressivism and...

  6. 1 MEMORY WORK
    (pp. 1-36)

    In the basement of my parents’ home is a photograph that was once prominently displayed on the fireplace mantel in the family room with other representations of such rites of passage as weddings and school graduations. The photograph stood beside the sacred family heirloom, a large, black, leather-bound Holy Bible, with pressed birth announcements, engagements, and obituaries crumbling between the pages. It is a “portrait” of my maternal great-grandfather, Edward William Trevenan, who left his wife, Amelia, and their five children in Cornwall, England, in 1910 to work as a supervisor of operations at one of the gold mines in...

  7. 2 AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FEMINIST WRITING PEDAGOGY
    (pp. 37-54)

    Picture a New England schoolhouse in the late seventeenth century. Rows of young white boys sit in wooden chairs facing the teacher’s podium, black slates resting in their laps. In the rear of the room, young white girls stand behind a curtain far from the warmth of the iron stove, eavesdropping on the boys’ recitations. The only reason the girls are tolerated at all is because the town neglected to specify their exclusion from the school when it was first established (Kendall, 12). These young girls are simultaneously “inside” and “outside” the public sphere; the curtain confines them to a...

  8. 3 WRITING IDENTITIES: THE “ESSENCE” OF DIFFERENCE
    (pp. 55-70)

    These two excerpts from autobiographical texts of first-year college writers depict some of the ways students negotiate their identities within the contact zone of the multicultural classroom. Students write both with and against the social discourses of academe. They writewiththe academic grain by using language that embodies the academy’s conventions and expectations, and they writeagainstit by constructing disruptive subject-positions and discourses that challenge and displace the academy’s authority. That they write both with and against the grain signifies the contradictions of writing autobiography in academic settings, where teachers traditionally reward students for writing texts that preserve...

  9. 4 “YE ARE WITNESSES”: AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND COMMEMORATIVE PRACTICES
    (pp. 71-93)

    In 1903, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church erected the Memorial Arch on the Oberlin College campus to commemorate the American missionaries who died in the 1899 Boxer Rebellion in the Shandong Province in north China. Oberlin College was a particularly suitable site for this memorial, having a tradition of religious and political reform and missionary zeal since its founding in 1833. Ninety years after the erection of the arch, in the fall of 1993, the inside of its semicircle was spraypainted with the words “Death to Chinks Memorial.” On the outside of the...

  10. 5 THE RISKS OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY: IDENTITY POLITICS, SEXUAL-OFFENSE POLICIES, AND THE RHETORIC OF RIGHTS
    (pp. 94-118)

    “We’re Gonna CRASH Your Policy” (October 1991); “Sexual Offense Policy Will Be Tabled Again” (September 4, 1992); “College Faculty Torn Over New Sexual Offense Policy” (September 18, 1992);” Faculty Amends Proposed Sexual Offense Policy” (December 4, 1992); “Sexual Offense Policy Called Inadequate” (March 12, 1993); “New Sexual Offense Proposal to Be Presented” (April 9, 1993); “GF Approves Sexual Offense Legislation” (May 13, 1993); “Sexual Offense Issues Consume Campus” (May 28, 1993). These headlines only hint at the level of intensity with which the Oberlin College community pursued the process of revising the college’s sexual-offense policy. After countless general faculty meetings...

  11. 6 IN AND OUT OF THE FLESH: AUTOBIOGRAPHY, PUBLIC-ART ACTIVISM, AND THE CRISIS OF WITNESSING
    (pp. 119-141)

    A white female incest survivor spoke those words when she was interviewed for a documentary about the central Pennsylvania regional Clothesline Project, which was assembled as part of Dickinson College’s 1993 Public Affairs Symposium on Violence in American Society. The Clothesline Project is a form of public-art activism¹ that takes as its subjects violence against women, memories of abuse, and women’s healing and recovery. It is a performance piece in the form of an actual clothesline from which survivors or family and friends of victims hang T-shirts that represent a particular woman’s experience. Since the project’s inception in 1991 by...

  12. Conclusion. TRAVELING FRAMES: AUTHORITY, AUTHENTICITY, AND THE PEDAGOGY OF LOCATION
    (pp. 142-158)

    On the second evening of the 1997 Pedagogy of the Oppressed Conference, hundreds of academics, students, artists, and community activists gathered in a large lecture hall at the University of Nebraska in Omaha for a “mass dialogue.” Standing in front of the large lecture hall, the facilitator, a leading spokesperson for critical democratic pedagogy, asked participants to form small groups to discuss both global and local concerns regarding the pedagogy of the oppressed.¹ These concerns would presumably function as generative themes and serve to focus the mass dialogue. When the larger group reassembled, several participants immediately interrogated the facilitator’s framing...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 159-172)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 173-196)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 197-208)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-209)