|Spring 2010||Audrey Thompson|
|University of Utah||office: 308C MBH
mailbox in 307 MBH
|fax. (801) 587-7801||voicemail: (801) 587-7803, recep. 587-7814|
|Class meets Th 2:00-4:20 p.m.||email:|
|OSH 229||Office Hours:|
|http://www.pauahtun.org/audrey.html||and by appointment|
Queering Scholarly Authority
This group independent study takes up questions regarding progressive and mainstream assumptions about embodied authority in academia. Although the dominant convention has been to assume a one-size-fits-all approach to knowledge and authority (that is, anyone can be an expert on anything, provided that they put in the work and engage in the appropriate credentialing process), standpoint theorists, queer theorists, CRT scholars, and other “outsider” scholars have challenged the assumption that members of dominant groups can write with unproblematic authority about historically marginalized and oppressed groups. The individual scholar’s investments in the status quo, her or his embodied desires, fears, experiences of surveillance, expectations of belonging, and practices of claiming ownership, as well as his or her practices of placating, passing, or performing identity/ies, all shape both how and what a person is likely to “know.” For the most part, the argument that the possibilities of cultural and political knowledge are embodied as well as studied has not been interpreted to mean that members of dominant groups should not write or teach at all about groups to which they do not belong. It has meant, however, that such writing and teaching may be considered limited or otherwise problematic.
Queer theory troubles a range of assumptions about the coherence and naturalness that may be claimed for both subaltern and dominant identities, yet because queer theory also has been somewhat resistant to theorization addressing whiteness or other privileged positionalities, it offers us a simultaneously provocative and problematic framework for exploring the ways in which sexuality, gender, race, language, culture — as well as (dis)ability, class, race, and nationhood — are taken up or ignored in academic performances of epistemic authority. This course will examine how experience and relationships, situatedness, and structural positionality all may serve to shape assumptions about authorship and authority in social justice scholarship. Although we will start from progressive critiques of the disembodied view from nowhere/everywhere, our primary focus will be on what it can and cannot mean to claim authority from embodied and/or relational positionalities. Using queer theory as a framework, we will examine both examples of explicit embodiment in scholarly writing and theoretical arguments regarding the role of embodied authority in scholarly writing and teaching.
The readings will be available on electronic reserve at the Marriott University Library or will be provided in class.
Requirements for the course also include regular attendance and participation; careful readings of the assignments; short in-class activities; an identity adventure; and a final paper.
The identity adventure (see handout) will involve choosing a theme connected to embodied and/or situated identity, and then exploring new framings, juxtapositions, and possibilities for how we play with that theme in our daily lives. The intent is to shift our embodied and/or situational perspective on the readings and class discussions through a dis-organizing of some of the performance habits that shape our current sense of identity.
Come to class having read the articles carefully. Listen at least as much as you talk. The goal in this class is not to be authoritative but to recognize and explore the value and limitations of different approaches to scholarly writing. This means taking some risks. It is vital that students listen to one another respectfully and give one another uptake.
• Prevent disruptions by turning off and refraining from use of cell phones and beepers, and by putting away extraneous reading materials. Please do not check text messages or email during class.
• Adhere to the University of Utah code for student conduct available at:
Thurs. 14 Jan.
I. Introduction: Modern and Postmodern
Activity: Drawing virtues and vices
Thurs. 21 Jan.
II. My Home Is Your Home
Thurs. 28 Jan.
III. The Concept of Wholeness
Activity homework: “I don’t see it that way.” Bring to class 3 photos you have taken (they could be photos you have taken in the past, though I am assuming you will try taking some new ones, too) that help viewers see something in a non-authoritative way. Each photo should have a different topic or theme. Be prepared to explain what would make an assumed other view “authoritative” (you don’t have to document this version) and how your framing in each photo subverts, reinterprets, or otherwise plays with that form of authority. (The photos do not have to address scholarly forms of authority.)
In-class activity: One-minute autobiographies
Thurs. 4 Feb.
IV. Fluidity and In-betweenness
In-class whiteboard draw/diagram activity: What do masculinity and femininity look like?
Electronic handout: Some Questions We Will Be Asking about the Readings
Thurs. 11 Feb.
V. “Giving” Voice
In-class activity: Two-minute colorings: Draw a wake-up moment you had in a school setting
Thurs. 18 Feb.
VI. Nostalgia for Innocence
Thurs. 25 Feb.
VII. Norm and Otherness
Thurs. 4 March
VIII. Pedagogies of In/Coherence
Thurs. 11 March
IX. Times in/and Spaces
Thurs. 18 March
X. Queering Categories in Scholarly Writing
Thurs. 25 March Spring Break: No class
Thurs. 1 April
XI. Phenomenology and
Thurs. 8 April No class meeting
Thurs. 15 April
XII. Cultural Speech
Thurs. 22 April
XIII. Contradictions of Identity and
Guest Speaker: Kim Hackford-Peer
Thurs. 6 May Finals Week: No Class Meeting
5:00 p.m. Final paper due in lieu of exam