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ERIC Number: ED373339
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Dec
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Writing Subjects Enacting the Writing Subject's Complexity.
Otte, George
Students do not need to be told that they are socially constituted so much as they need to experience, in concrete terms, what that means. In an era of identity politics, they need to experience the labels they choose (or the labels chosen for them) as no less problematic than they are inevitable. A means to this end is a classroom heuristic tried in venues as various as ESL classes and graduate seminars. Participants address a label they have been given or a type with which they have been identified, ideally one that allows them to address an important issue in their lives. Many choose cultural or social identifications, but there is no label or type that is not a social construction. In one class, an Indian American student ran into difficulties examining her label as "Indian," difficulties that are typical in this type of exercise: namely, the difficulty of saying what the label is and what it is not. When participants share their different examinations of a label, a number of conclusions follow: (1) that any label or role is inadequate; (2) the need to distinguish one label or type from others problematizes notions of what is "normal"; and (3) a multiplicity of labels exists in any individual case. Further benefits of this exercise are that it explodes the notion that people in the mainstream, unlike the dispossessed, have the privilege of defining themselves; and that it complicates theories about social constitution that do not give adequate consideration to agency. (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 27-30, 1993).