H2.1 (363): Panel: Teaching From (Personal) Archives: Feminist Pedagogy Transforming the SoTL Horizon

Date & Time

Oct 13th at 4:00 PM until 5:30 PM



Rating ( votes)

Feminist pedagogy maintains that power in the classroom should be strategically balanced between teacher and students to inform both curriculum and classroom practices and to encourage critical thinking and reflection. Growing from critical pedagogy and looking toward contributions from queer theory, feminist pedagogy embraces unknowability and welcomes spontaneity and emphasizes methods that seek to emancipate: to identify, destabilize, and/or transform oppression and its manifestations (Friere, 2000; Shrewsbury, 1987; Weems, 1992; Kenway and Modra, 1992; hooks, 1994; Hassel and Nelson, 2012). A growing body of scholarship, recognized by the presenters in this panel, explores the intersections of critical, feminist, and queer pedagogies and its impact and potential for SoTL (Levstik, 2009). While each presenter has roots in Women’s and Gender Studies, we teach within the disciplines of English and History, thereby illustrating the interdisciplinary potential of our pedagogical approach. Our collective rationale for grounding our work in SoTL responds not only to gaps and silences in the historical record, but also to oppressive hegemonic discourses that often frame teaching, learning, and knowledge production regarding marginalized voices and history. Each of the three panelists facilitated student research projects that engaged with primary source materials, including local archives and personal archives. In asking students to generate new possibilities for interpreting these materials, we explicitly shifted assumptions about who shapes academic discourse. This interdisciplinary panel will examine multiple feminist pedagogical practices, including strategies for project and knowledge presentation, critical reflection, and student evaluation. Following feminist teacher-scholar bell hooks’ notion that “the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy” (1994), we share SoTL strategies for regularly integrating activities that call for reflection so that teacher and students may situate themselves within course content and reflect on the ways in which lived experiences are shaped by social processes and structures. In truly decentering the classroom, we each found that traditional modes of evaluation were insufficient, and therefore, we will present approaches to measuring student learning outcomes when evaluating projects that are both personal and creative. Our collective perspectives, along with examples of student work, provide a compelling illustration of how incorporating critical, feminist, and queer pedagogies shapes new - and necessary - directions for SoTL, effectively transforming its horizon.

"The Impact of the Unknowable: Objects and Archives in a Women’s History Classroom"

Krista Grensavitch discusses creating, facilitating, and presenting this final project, which required students to use primary sources to reconceptualize the variable forms that knowledge takes, assess the relative value often ascribed to these forms, and transmit created knowledge through both written narratives and physical objects. In addition to facilitated museum and archives visits, students also engaged with local makers, friends, and family members to develop the skills necessary for completing several facets of this project. These interactions juxtaposed academic knowledge and knowledge from home and local resources. In this course, the teaching and learning process had several surprising outcomes, both for the students and for the instructor, emphasizing the role of unknowability and what benefit recognizing that the unknowable exits brings. Framed with theory, the presenter will discuss several outcomes, illustrating that pedagogy must be flexible in relation to that which is unknowable in the classroom-because teacher and learner identities are fractured, intersecting, and multiple; that queer theory can be used to unsettle what knowledge is, how we teach, how we learn, how we know the unintelligible; and that in working through crisis, that significant liberatory education occurs (Llewellyn and Llewellyn, 2015; Luhmann, 1998; Kumashiro, 2002).

"[art]ifact: flipping the power dynamics of a traditional classroom”

Ariel Beaujot will introduce her object-centered [art]ifact course in which students performed material culture analysis and traditional research in archives and libraries based on several objects made locally. Once research was completed the class flipped the traditional classroom power dynamics so that students became in charge of the outcome and the final product which would ultimately be an exhibit at the Regional Art Gallery, along with K-12 and community programing. Another important aspect of the student-planned and student run exhibit was that they created a Call to Artists that asked local artists to create art in response to the objects chosen and their research, thereby allowing history and art to speak in their own ways to the same object. In the process, students also sought to query the display mechanisms of art galleries and historical societies in order to question the power dynamics inherent in both. Flipping the traditional classroom dynamics meant students were in charge of outcomes and they wrote Gantt Charts, weekly reports reviewed by the class as a whole, and did peer review as a way of determining the final grades of the class. In this way, the instructor stepped back from the process and the students came to develop their own education in a less-oppressive, less-power ridden classroom environment.

"Collaborative Rubrics: Student-Led Assessments of Learning through Personal Archives"

Casey O'Brien examines how writing a collaborative rubrics when engaging with personal archives in a Women’s Graphic Memoirs course cultivates a culture of critical reflexivity and, by extension, helps an instructor ethically assess learning outcomes when students’ projects are both creative and personal. Building from an assignment sequence, which guides students through a series of low-stakes writing-drawing assignments that correlate with the assigned graphic memoirs and the course learning objectives, the activities are designed to encourage the interrogation and analysis of visual texts with the aim of students learning to apply those skills when creating their own visual texts in the form of a personal graphic memoir. At each stage, students are asked to incorporate personal archives as primary sources, such as photographs, letters, journals, and mementos. Addressing the role of Imagination-Intellect in feminist research writing, Susan Iverson posits, “feminist pedagogy demands that we become personal with the material studied” (2015). Given the creative and personal nature of these final projects, and in line with her identity as a feminist pedagogue, this instructor, with her students, designed a “collaborative rubric,” for assessing the graphic memoirs. Collectively, the students negotiated the criteria and point system for grading their graphic memoirs, a process which measurably deepened critical reflection and learning.