ERIC Number: ED440399
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999
Textual Orientations: Gay and Lesbian Students and the Making of Discourse Communities.
Gulla, Amanda Nicole
For Peter Elbow, a writing classroom should be an opportunity for students to tell their stories to a community in which everyone is safe to take risks, and all support each other in the development of their expressive skills. To be "other," however, is always a scary thing. The lesbian, gay, or bisexual writing student is usually seen as having a choice of being "in the closet" or "in your face." She must size up every situation she enters: classroom, social, workplace, health care provider, etc., and determine how safe it is to reveal her true identity. What can courses in queer pedagogy do to address the issue of homophobia in the academy? For instance, the whole notion of a course designed specifically to address the issues of an oppressed group strikes many members of the dominant population as a deliberate stepping outside the mainstream to further delineate existing social divisions. Elbow refers to a "dangerous audience" but does not specify what makes it so. Any writing classroom that is not specifically lesbian and gay oriented holds potential danger for the lesbian or gay writer. For them, a dangerous audience is often made up of peers who have never had the opportunity to consider homosexuals as fellow members of the human race. The writing teacher can make a significant difference in establishing the classroom as a safe space, but only if the rights of students who occupy the margins are acknowledged by the teacher before they have to come out. What Harriet Malinowicz gave her students in the two courses she offered about gay issues and described in her book "Textual Orientations" would permanently strengthen students' identities and their voices as writers. (NKA)
Descriptors: Classroom Environment, Discourse Communities, Higher Education, Homophobia, Homosexuality, Student Characteristics, Student Rights, Writing Instruction
For full text: http://www.nyu.edu/education/teachlearn/ifte/amanda1.htm.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Conference of the International Federation for the Teaching of English (Warwick, England, July 7-10, 1999).