Pedagogy

Dossier: Walter Benjamin and Education

The most recent issue of boundary 2, “Dossier: Walter Benjamin and Education,” edited by Matthew Charles and Howard Eiland, is now available.

m_bou_45_2_coverAlthough it is well known that Walter Benjamin played a leading role in the antebellum German Youth Movement, withdrawing from the presidency of the Berlin Independent Students Association and from other reformist activities only with the onset of World War I, scholars often do not ask whether this multifaceted student activism had any effect on his later thought and writing. This dossier proposes to investigate the early writings on youth and educational reform and their discernible afterlife in the better known historical-materialist phase of Benjamin’s career, including his writings on radio, film, children’s literature, and children’s theater, as well as his studies of Franz Kafka and Bertolt Brecht. The introduction provides brief summaries of the ten articles comprising the dossier and their relation to one another, and it addresses the question of the relevance of Benjamin’s ideas on education to contemporary debates concerning pedagogy.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available here.

 

New Books in April

 April brings a fresh crop of great new books. Check out what we’re releasing this month.

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In Biblical Porn Jessica Johnson draws on a decade of fieldwork at Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle to show how congregants became entangled in a process of religious conviction through which they embodied Driscoll’s teaching on gender and sexuality in ways that supported the church’s growth.

In Abject Performances Leticia Alvarado explores how Latino artists and cultural producers have developed and deployed an irreverent aesthetics of abjection to resist assimilation and disrupt respectability politics.

Matthew Vitz’s A City on a Lake outlines the environmental history and politics of Mexico City as it transformed its original forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity, showing how the scientific and political disputes over water policy, housing, forestry, and sanitary engineering led to the city’s unequal urbanization and environmental decline.

In Domesticating Democracy Susan Helen Ellison offers an ethnography of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) organizations in El Alto, Bolivia, showing that by helping residents cope with their interpersonal disputes and economic troubles how they change the ways Bolivians interact with the state and global capitalism, making them into self-reliant citizens.

978-0-8223-7081-9.jpgKatherine Verdery’s My Life as a Spy analyzes the 2,781 page surveillance file the Romanian secret police compiled on her during her research trips to Transylvania in the 1970s and 1980s. Reading it led her to question her identity and also revealed how deeply the secret police was embedded in everyday life.

 In Edges of Exposure, following Senegalese toxicologists as they struggle to keep equipment, labs, and projects operating, Noémi Tousignant explores the impact of insufficient investments in scientific capacity in postcolonial Africa.

 

Examining human rights discourse from the French Revolution to the present, in Human Rights and the Care of the Self Alexandre Lefebvre turns common assumptions about human rights—that its main purpose is to enable, protect, and care for those in need—on their heads, showing how the value of human rights lies in its support of ethical self-care.

Gay PrioriLibby Adler’s Gay Priori offers a comprehensive critique of the mainstream LGBT legal agenda in the United States, showing how LGBT equal rights discourse drives legal advocates toward a narrow array of reform objectives that do little to help the lives of the most marginalized members of the LGBT community.

In From the Tricontinental to the Global South Anne Garland Mahler traces the history and intellectual legacy of the understudied global justice movement called the Tricontinental and calls for a revival of the Tricontinental’s politics as a means to strengthen racial justice and anti-neoliberal struggles in the twenty-first-century.

Aimee Bahng’s Migrant Futures traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction, showing how speculative novels, films, and narratives create alternative futures that envision the potential for new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.

A Primer for Teaching Environmental History, by Emily Wakild and Michelle K. Berry, is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching environmental history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate environmental history into their world history courses. The book is part of a new series, Design Principles for Teaching History.

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Call for Papers: Teaching Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization

ddped_18_1Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture is seeking submissions for a special issue edited by Helena Gurfinkel (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Gautam Basu Thakur (Boise State University), titled “Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization,” and scheduled for October 2020.

The editors of this special issue are seeking contributions on teaching critical theory in the global present. What is the relevance of teaching theory in the era of globalization, and what is at stake? What are the challenges and unavoidable paradoxes of teaching theory at a time when global classrooms are geared toward both neoliberal information/skills acquisition and conservative knowledge accumulation?

Changes in the classroom reflect changes in global politics. In the decades following the Second World War, that is, in the midst of the Cold War and the rapid decolonization of the globe, critical theory gained popularity across Anglo-American English departments with its radical interrogations of traditional society, politics, and culture. It drastically dislocated the imperial boundaries of English studies and was responsible for challenging the canon – “birthing” gender and postcolonial studies and connecting literature to politics, subjectivity, and networks of commodity relations. But does theory retain these strengths in the twenty-first century college classroom? What relevance does it have as pedagogy and practice to better understand and address the challenges of contemporary social reality – climate change, depredation of democracy, neoliberalism and violence, and the so-called “death of the humanities”?

This special issue will ponder these questions, as we seek new ways of teaching undergraduate and graduate literary theory and criticism courses. The editors would particularly like to rethink the institution of the survey course, an accepted narrative that begins with formalism and ends with identity.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching a theory survey course (graduate and/or undergraduate) in a globalized world: challenges, rewards, and methodologies.
  • Teaching critical theory: new methodologies, forgotten theories/forgotten methodologies, new theories.
  • Teaching critical theory in a graduate course in the current (global) job market.
  • Teaching global literatures as theory/ Global literary theory as pedagogy.
  • Teaching a global critical theory survey: resisting chronology.
  • Teaching critical theory beyond the Western university.

The editors invite articles of 5000-7500 words and position papers of 1500 words. Articles are open to all theoretical approaches. Position papers should address one of the following: 1) teaching queer theory; 2) teaching postcolonial theory; 3) teaching the non-human turn. In all cases, global pedagogical contexts are essential. Pedagogy uses The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.

Submission Deadlines:

March 2, 2018: 1-page CVs; abstracts of 500 words for articles, or of 150 words for position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

September 4, 2018: full articles and position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

Queries welcome.

Pedagogy: Critical Practices for a Changing World

ddal_89_2_coverWhy we teach what we teach is just as important as why we study what we study but is seldom discussed as a field-defining issue. American Literature’s most recent special issue, “Pedagogy: Critical Practices for a Changing World,” edited by Carol Batker, Eden Osucha, and Augusta Rohrbach, integrates discipline-specific knowledge more fully into a critical discussion of pedagogy. By leveraging the location of pedagogy as developing out of specific scholarly concerns, articles within this issue illustrate the intersection of theory and pedagogical practice while highlighting the diverse disciplinary, institutional, and political contributions of American literature to higher education and community-based teaching and learning.

In turning their attention to pedagogy, the editors of this special issue ask both how scholarly engagement with American literature has produced a distinct set of pedagogical practices and how pedagogical practices raise new questions about the relevance and role of American literature. Rather than focusing on a particular teaching strategy or text, these essays approach the topic from larger philosophical and disciplinary perspectives.

Read the special editors’ introduction to the issue, made freely available now through August 26, 2017.

The Singular “They” and Trans* Studies

They used as a “gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person” was chosen as the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in January 2016. The so-called singular they has been used for centuries to replace he or she when referring back to a generic antecedent, although this makes some copy editors and grammar aficionados cringe. (Did you see this row between Merriam-Webster dictionary Twitter account and Andy Smarick? It all started with this tweet.) What’s new and was recognized by the society is the emerging use of they as a pronoun to refer to a specific known person, often as a conscious choice by someone rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.

Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, explains: “In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion. . . . While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.”

ddasp_91_1In “Singular They: An Empirical Study of the Generic Pronoun Use,” published in American Speech volume 91, issue 1, author Darren K. LaScotte presents a study that explores which pronouns native English speakers use when writing about a hypothetical person of unspecified gender. LaScotte discovered the majority of participants use singular they when referring to the indefinite, singular, genderless antecedent “the ideal student.” In an optional write-in section of the study, participants were asked why they chose the singular they. Responses included mentions that they acknowledges those that fall outside of the gender binary.

These responses in LaScotte’s study highlight the relationship between the singular they and trans* studies. In TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly’s recent special issue “Trans*formational Pedagogies” (volume 2, issue 3), two articles delve into the use of pronouns and the trans* community.

ddtsq_2_3In “Trans* Disruptions: Pedagogical Practices and Pronoun Recognition,” Tre Wentling asks, “With the increasing number of trans* people who queer the gender binary, how does language affirm or deny their personhood?” In Wentling’s study, the results demonstrate that trans* students who identify as genderqueer tended to use gender-neutral and third-person pronouns. However, educators were less affirming when it came to gender-neutral pronoun recognition. “Accurate pronoun recognition supports trans* students’ identity development and honors their personhood,” Wentling says.

Susan W. Woolley’s “‘Boys Over Here, Girls Over There’: A Critical Literacy of Binary Gender in Schools” examines the ways teachers and students enact, respond to, and subvert practices that articulate and distinguish categories of boys and girls with three years of ethnographic research in an urban public high school. From the abstract:

Dividing students according to their socially recognized sex or gender reinforces the perceived stability of binary male/female sex and binary masculine/feminine gender categories while also exceptionalizing transgender identities. Students and teachers who challenge such practices engage in critical literacy readings of school spaces and of the mundane ways binary gender and sex are read onto bodies. Critical literacy provides a method through which students and teachers may engage in reflection and critical practice to raise awareness and challenge everyday practices in schools that construct boys and girls as stable, discrete categories.

For those who embrace, or are ready to embrace, the singular they, there’s a website for you: iheartsingularthey.com.

The 7 Most Eye-Catching Articles of 2015

Happy New Year’s Eve! At Duke University Press, we’re ringing in the holiday by reading academic journals, of course. Some of our most popular journal articles in 2015 have titles that might make you do a double-take. As you wait for the ball to drop, check out these eye-catching articles, made freely available for you to read.

ddstx_124There’s Nothing Revolutionary about a Blowjob

It’s more than just a catchy title. Authors Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely argue for a return of queer theory to revolutionary politics. Not only does revolution not have to be heteronormative, they claim, but in fact “a rethinking of sexuality must accompany any thinking of revolution.”

 

ddped_15_1Where Do PhDs in English Get Jobs?

It’s not just a myth—the supply of English PhD graduates does far outweigh the demand, says economist David Colander along with Daisy Zhuo. But there’s still hope. Colander suggests several ways we can improve the sticky situation facing recent graduates.

 

ddnov_43_2Heterosexual Horror: Dracula, the Closet, and the Marriage-Plot

The abstract says it all: “If Dracula is written from the perspective of a closeted gay man, as much scholarship contends, this article therefore suggests that the gay closet, far from being a site of pure terror and deception, can provide a privileged outsider’s vantage point on heterosexual life. In the closet, erotic desire is always at odds with social institutions; Dracula can be read in part as a horrified imagining of what full participation in institutionalized sexuality would be like.”

 

ddmq_24_1Tangled Web: The Syrian Civil War and Its Implications

Western media coverage of the Syrian civil war is often melodramatic and simplistic, presenting the war as a struggle between good and evil, says author Ted Galen Carpenter. Carpenter presents the murky reality of the war, analyzing what it means for Syria, the Middle East, and the international community.

 

ddpcult_27_3Why Look at Cabin Porn?

You might have seen cabin porn before—those photographs of beautiful cabins in the middle of nature. Author Finn Arne Jørgensen explores not only why we’re drawn to these rustic images, but also how we reconcile technology with the authenticity of nature.

 

ddclj_66_3Imagining the U.S.-Mexico Drug War: The Critical Limits of Narconarratives

The majority of writings about Latin American drug cartels “frame the drug trade as a phenomenon operating outside of the state,” says author Oswaldo Zavala. However, he contends, the drug trade is located within state structures, and emerging novels that recognize this connection offer more accurate depictions of the trade. This article won the 2015 Latin American Studies Association Mexico Award for Best Essay in the Humanities.

 

ddjhppl_38_2Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States

If fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses are legally considered to have personhood, what implications does this have for pregnant women? Authors Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin report on 413 cases where pregnancy was a necessary factor leading to arrest.

 

What other eye-catching articles did we miss? What were your favorites this year? Let us know in the comments or by sharing this post on social media, and have a great New Year!

In the Archives

Several recent books and journal issues from Duke University Press have addressed the topic of archives. Learn more about archives through the lenses of transgender studies, queer studies, pedagogy, photography, and more.

ddtsq_2_4In the most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, titled “Archives and Archiving” (volume 2, issue 4), contributors investigate practical and theoretical dimensions of archiving transgender phenomena and ask what constitutes “trans* archives” or “trans* archival practices.” The humanization of the archival craft is particularly compelling for transgender-related archives and archiving. As attention to transgender phenomena continues to increase, the need for thoughtfully conceived and ethically executed trans archival practices becomes all the more pressing. Yet the very basis of this undertaking relies on a daunting definitional and epistemological challenge: in the context of archives, what counts as transgender? Read the introduction, made freely available.


978-0-8223-3688-4Archive Stories
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edited by Antoinette Burton, brings together ethnographies of the archival world, most of which are written by historians. Some contributors recount their own experiences. One offers a moving reflection on how the relative wealth and prestige of Western researchers can gain them entry to collections such as Uzbekistan’s newly formed Central State Archive, which severely limits the access of Uzbek researchers. Others explore the genealogies of specific archives, from one of the most influential archival institutions in the modern West, the Archives nationales in Paris, to the significant archives of the Bakunin family in Russia, which were saved largely through the efforts of one family member. Still others explore the impact of current events on the analysis of particular archives. A contributor tells of researching the 1976 Soweto riots in the politically charged atmosphere of the early 1990s, just as apartheid in South Africa was coming to an end. A number of the essays question what counts as an archive—and what counts as history—as they consider oral histories, cyberspace, fiction, and plans for streets and buildings that were never built, for histories that never materialized.

Dean cover image, 5680-6The essays in the collection in Porn Archives,  edited by Tim Dean, Steven Ruszczycky, and David Squires, address the historically and culturally varied interactions between porn and the archive. Topics range from library policies governing access to sexually explicit material to the growing digital archive of “war porn,” or eroticized combat imagery; and from same-sex amputee porn to gay black comic book superhero porn. Together the pieces trace pornography as it crosses borders, transforms technologies, consolidates sexual identities, and challenges notions of what counts as legitimate forms of knowledge. The collection concludes with a valuable resource for scholars: a list of pornography archives held by institutions around the world.

ddrhr_120Two recent issues of Radical History Review, “Historical Unravelings,” #120 and “Intimate Tracings,” #122, explore the ways in which the notion of the “queer archive” is increasingly crucial for scholars working at the intersection of history, sexuality, and gender. Efforts to record and preserve queer experiences determine how scholars account for the past and provide a framework for understanding contemporary queer life. Essays in these issues consider historical materials from queer archives around the world as well as the recent critical practice of “queering” the archive by looking at historical collections for queer content (and its absence).

ddrhr_122The first issue explores the evolution of grassroots LGBT archives, debates over queer migrations, nationalism and the institutionalization of LGBT memory, the archiving of transgender activism, digitization and the classificatory systems of the archive, performances of the colonial archive, museums as archives, and everyday objects as archivable texts. The second issue considers how archives allow historical traces of sexuality and gender to be sought, identified, recorded, and assembled into accumulations of meaning. Learn more about “Historical Unravelings” and “Intimate Tracings” by reading the introductions, made freely available.

978-0-8223-4868-9Kathryn Burns argues that the archive itself must be historicized in Into the Archive. Using the case of colonial Cuzco, she examines the practices that shaped document-making. Notaries were businessmen, selling clients a product that conformed to local “custom” as well as Spanish templates. Clients, for their part, were knowledgeable consumers, with strategies of their own for getting what they wanted. In this inside story of the early modern archive, Burns offers a wealth of possibilities for seeing sources in fresh perspective.

Additional articles of interest on archives: