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ERIC Number: EJ1138989
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0882-4843
"(Un)covering" in the Classroom: Managing Stigma beyond the Closet
Branfman, Jonathan
Feminist Teacher: A Journal of the Practices, Theories, and Scholarship of Feminist Teaching, v26 n1 p72-82 2017
While many instructors closet stigmatized identities, others "downplay" them--a tactic that sociologist Erving Goffman terms "covering." What are the personal, ethical, and pedagogical costs of covering? What are the gains? How can feminist university instructors cover stigmatized identities without fueling oppressive respectability politics against their own communities? These are the questions that confront the author as an openly gay university instructor, as well as nearly all teachers who do not fit what Audre Lorde calls "the mythical norm": "white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure." Any instructor outside this narrow norm, as well as those who are not able-bodied and neurotypical, cisgender, and native-born citizens of the countries where they teach, may face pressures to cover in the classroom. To help navigate these challenges, the author proposes a "pedagogy of uncovering": strategically covering to gain students' respect, and later explicitly "uncovering" to help students deconstruct the very respectability politics that make covering exigent. The author suggests that this "pedagogy of uncovering" can extend feminist pedagogical conversations about how, when, and why instructors cover so that we can teach most effectively while navigating personal stigma and structural oppression. Ideally, this pedagogy of uncovering can offer new tools for teachers to destabilize essentializing notions of gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability; to challenge the oppressive assumptions that underlie respectability politics; to establish richer and more honest relationships with our students; and to free ourselves from the anxiety and exhaustion of self-censorship.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A