B. López and guest co-host Yanira Rodríguez interview Dr. Aja Martinez about counterstory, the reception of critical race theory in the field of composition and rhetoric, and doing the work (while not being welcomed at home) in academia.
Much of the discussion centers around Dr. Martinez’s forthcoming book, Counterstory: The Writing and Rhetoric of Critical Race Theory.
Counterstory is, by virtue of critical race theory, a theory-bound framework toward a way to do research. But within counterstory there are methods, which are the genres about how to go about it. Right? Those are the tools and the skill set. -Aja Martinez
This shit is repetitive. It’s cyclical, it’s familiar, we’ve seen it, we know it, we study you, we know your actions. You don’t see us, but we see you. And we document it. And if you’re feeling like that’s you that we’re talking about, you should be a little bit introspective about that and figure out why you’re feeling like that’s you. -Aja Martinez
For our third episode, we hosted a roundtable discussion on teaching during the Trump presidency. But we also asked listeners to contribute their stories. We had such good submissions, and so many, that we decided to make it an episode on its own.
I think at the heart of what I work at as a teacher is how do I make sure that my students are best prepared to express themselves in the world around them. And in particular, how are they best prepared to be an educated voter and educated self-advocate and an educated person who’s going to be able to stand up for themselves in moments when necessary and stand up for folks who might not have the same resources as them.” -Katlin Sweeney
“Maybe they will realize that there are stories they can trust: they can trust their own stories.” -Shivaun Corry
“I think the most important thing that I can do in the classroom is to continually make sure that I show my students that we are here to talk about truth, to talk about justice, to talk about equity.” -Genevieve García de Müeller
In this episode, B. López and Ben Kuebrich have a roundtable discussion with Dr. James Chase Sanchez and Dr. GPat Patterson to discuss teaching in the trump era and how this political moment has shaped our pedagogy and our interactions with students. Dr. James Chase Sanchez is an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at Middlebury College. Dr. GPat Patterson is an assistant professor of English at Kent State Tuscarawas. In the discussion, we consider the following questions: What does it mean to teach thoughtfully in response to this political moment? What classroom experiences have you had that were particular to the trump era? How do you make your teaching a form of resistance?
“We’ve really elected this sort of caricature of white supremacy. Right? And I think the unanticipated effect is that Trump is kind of turning that sort of not-so-fun funhouse mirror back at the public and people are asking questions that I don’t think that they’ve been asking for a really long time. I’m having students cominginto the classroom who are really looking to me and really looking at themselves and they want the tools to make sense of this moment.” -GPat Patterson
“I want to make sure that we can get to the root of the matter in these [classroom] conversations, but that I just don’t stay silent and let something that is a microaggression go without talking about it. Because I understand those moments that those students have those fears that, ‘Oh well there goes someone else who, who isn’t an ally.’ And that’s something that I want to make sure I demonstrate that I am to them.” – James Chase Sanchez
In this episode, B. López interviews the award-winning scholar Eric Darnell Pritchard about his book Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and The Politics of Literacy. They also talk about Dr. Pritchard’s past and future scholarship, and about how to survive and thrive in academic spaces that are too often unkind, especially for queer students of color.
Fashion was one of the ways that I was insisting upon my own selfhood, right? And what I got from my mom and her sisters and my uncles and cousins was, you know, that this could be an instrument. This could be something that I could use as a way to own myself, right? To belong to myself. -Eric Darnell Pritchard
You don’t have to earn the right to serenity. Right? You don’t have to earn the right to be able to take a full breath. You don’t have to earn the right to have a moment of quiet or just something that acknowledges the fact that you’re human. Right? That’s not something that graduate students have to earn. You’re earning a degree. You’re not earning the right to be human, and a whole person in the classroom. That doesn’t have to be earned. -Eric Darnell Pritchard
After two and a half years away, This Rhetorical Life is back with a second season and a new chapter for the podcast. B. López joins Ben Kuebrich in exploring politics and pedagogy, and the rhetoric of our daily lives.
Listen to our first episode below and stay tuned the 2nd Monday of each month for new content.
This summer, Cruz Medina reached out to This Rhetorical Life to share an interview he had done with Ana Castillo. As Medina states in this episode:
As a writer, Ana Castillo’s work is the art that identifies subject matter before those of us who are academics and scholars are able to apply lenses or qualify and quantify these rich sites of inquiry. And this is so important because there are still folks doing research on Latinas/os who bring in very little or no Latina/o scholarship, reaffirming what Jacqueline Jones Royster said in “When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own,” that we are once again told that Columbus discovered America.
The intersections of Xicana feminism and Latinx literature addressing structured oppression are certainly not new, but in this contemporary political moment, it’s important to reaffirm a sense of survival. As Ana Castillo states:
We have to think about the people we have marginalized and disenfranchised most—and everybody in society at some point or another is. So it’s a fallacy to think that we have democracy and that everybody has the same opportunity. But, in terms of patriarchy, you know, women for eons have been kept in a secondary place. In terms of race issues in this country, which is only over 200 years old, but if we include the Americas, we’re talking about the conquest of Mexico and Peru and so on, so over half a millennium ago, here, of colonialism here. If we talk about other places in the world, it’s been going on for a very, very long time. Twenty or thirty years is just a drop in the bucket as far as some of the things that we’re addressing.
Read the transcript, or listen to the episode below. Featuring music from Blue Dot Sessions.
Homonormativity has had two kind of strains of theoretical emphasis, one of which has been the focus on neoliberal prerogatives and priorities into institutions and everyday life, and gay and lesbian formations in particular, and I say gay and lesbian for a reason. And the development of a prescriptive set of social codes that define what it means to be a cosmopolitan queer. And I think that, some people would say the movement has been hijacked, and I don’t disagree with those folks who make those arguments, but I don’t want to be so fatalistic about it. There is always time and space to rethink and remobilize along different lines and priorities.”
“And so I’m saying the word ‘sodomy’ I’m saying ‘queer,’ and this museum group, all heads turn at once away from their tour group, and they start listening to me and kind of following me around, right. And so this completely different history that was unexpected to them, to the person interviewing me, and to this random tour group, but they wanted to know, right? So there are all of these different histories that we can tell about these objects when we look through the lens of queer curatorship, when we look through the lens of all museums are sex museums.”
Today we’ll be talking about queer cultures, the rhetoricity of museum space, what role museums play in the formation of sexual subjectivities and national sexual cultures.
In any event, first [thing] we have to make contact with is the situation that we are entering and what kind of context we are teaching in, and for. And we have to then educate ourselves into the context.
In addition, the other thing is, the political conditions not only change from place to place; that is, some places are more open to allowing teachers to experiment, some places are very rigid and very punitive and repressive—so that we had to adjust to the political climate or the political profile around us. But that political climate was not only a function of place of where we were teaching, it is also a function of time.
Part two of the interview focuses on updates to critical pedagogy,
including some of Shor’s more recent experiments in the classroom. We
also talk a lot about movement work, about the pedagogies of movements,
about the role that educators play and might play, and about what Shor
has been doing inside and outside of formal academic institutions.
Once again, we let the tape run and give you a largely unedited interview. We have in mind an audience who is familiar with Shor and critical pedagogy but who may be interested in some of the personal details and specific points that Shor raises here that may not be available elsewhere.
And once again, a tiny chorus of Zebra finches make up the background noise for our conversation.
We hope you enjoy it.
Download the full transcript for the episode here.
Music sampled in this episode is “Night Owl” from Broke For Free.
I discovered what it was like to sit next to a teenager from an affluent family, and how they dressed; and they had good complexions and I wondered how that happened, ’cause nobody I grew up with had a nice complexion; they all had nice teeth, I had terrible teeth, all my friends had terrible teeth; I wore my brother’s clothes, the hand-me-downs, they had their own clothes. So, it was like a very sudden contact with class differences because the schools I went to in the neighborhood, we were all from the same social class. It was an education for me but it also caused me a lot of—I don’t know—doubt, anxiety about who I was, and I began to feel insecure that I was ugly, badly dressed, that I smelled bad, that my hair was too oily, that my skin was too pimply, my teeth were too cracked, and so on. . .
So I had been moving in this direction of what I call critical literacy or critical pedagogy. And Paulo Freire, of course, was way ahead, he had been doing it—that was around 1970s, he’d been doing it for over twenty years. So then I began studying his work in earnest and used it as a foundation for writing my first book Critical Teaching and Everyday Life.
In part one of our interview, Ira Shor tells us about growing up in the Bronx, his early experiences of education, joining social movements, practicing critical pedagogy, and his first encounters and early collaboration with the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.
We hope you enjoy it, and check back next week for part two where we talk about social movements, political possibilities, and the current state of higher education.
I just don’t understand why we have to talk about every mode of belonging as some kind of citizenship. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m interested in people’s practices of resistance. I’m interested in people’s practices of belonging. […] I’m interested in people’s practices of world-making. — Karma Chavez
I’m increasingly persuaded by those who argue citizenship is a toxic concept and a toxic term. When I do talk about folks who appeal to citizenship, I’m very aware of how often those appeals to citizenship are built on the constitutive exclusions of others, and that if we really want to mobilize a productive, an emancipatory sense of civic obligation and of civic duty, we’ve got to figure out a way to do it without buying into a privileging conception of citizenship. — Cate Palczewski
In Episode 29, we extend a conversation from the 2015 RSA Summer Inst-itute Seminar on Rhetorics of Citizenship. Karrieann Soto and Kate Siegfried host the discussion with co-seminarians Karma Chavez and Cate Palczewski. The episode asks that we critically question rhetorics of citizenship in our scholarship and in daily life. For a full transcript, click here.