the queer classroom and self confidence

dear.abby's picture

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “are you even registered in this class? do you know where you are? and 10 being “you are fully present, prepared and engaged”, I would say I was an average of a 6.5 being that some days I was about a 1 and most days I was a 7.5-8. That being said, I was an average of about a 4 in my “real life” this semester 1 being “you are stagnant, you might as well be dead” and 10 being “your life has self motivated forward momentum”.  So my participation and contribution was patchy at best, but you already know that. Though think I was more present in the small discussions than in the larger ones. Everything I did for class was “focused on my own learning” though I am not really sure what else it could have focused on…I was trying to contribute to the learning of others online. By this I mean that I was trying or hoping generally to engage with a discussion in my postings. I don’t think I have been thinking of how I might be contributing to others learning, in the sense that I don’t ever find myself wanting others to come to my point of view or position of understanding—I don’t consider myself a teacher within the classroom.

It was difficult for me to read within this course, at least more so than it is for me in other classrooms. I have not read fiction within a classroom context for four years and I found it particularly difficult to understand the concept of a “feminist text”. If someone had said “feminist text” prior to this class I would have thought of bell hooks or Audre Lorde or Judith Butler or Chandra Mohanty or Simone de Beauvoir—writers who would be considered feminist theorists I guess. I guess I would have understood Virginia Woolf as a feminist writer but I never read her prior to this course so she wouldn’t have come to mind. I still do not know what this term means; I think I communicated this in my final project, or tried to do so. Can a text be feminist just because it’s written by women and about women, especially if it is written in a medium that might overwhelmingly dominated my male writers (i.e. like Girl)? I felt that Jimmy Corrigan was a feminist text, even though it was written by a boy, about a boy, and intended for narrow audience (of people like Jimmy Corrigan). I am reasonably sure that being a feminist text has more to do with substance than with facts about the sex of its author, even if these facts make it particularly unique.

I am not sure if I grew as a reader, I have never really thought in these terms. I think about my progress as a writer frequently in all classes, but I do not ever think of reading as moving in any direction. Though I did read in formats I had never approached before, i.e. the graphic novel, so I could say my reading capacity expanded a bit. My writing definitely moved in a similar direction of increases capacity through the use of the online format. This was and is still very new to me, and more challenging still than I’d like it to be. I came rather late to the forum of the Internet. (My access was extremely parentally controlled until I escaped to Bryn Mawr, also in the same vein my mother, the only parent with control capacities, was extremely paranoid regarding the Internet, so I am too even if I don’t want to be.) I would really like this relative unfamiliarity and lack of confidence technologically to change, and I think this course has moved me more in that direction than any other I’ve taken.

My online musings were about 40% stand-alone and 60% in response to others. I really wanted to engage in conversation online, but found it difficult to initiate discussion and easier to just join in an already started one. I think I put the most effort into the postings, once I did start posting. The web events were really difficult for me for some reason, probably more of a mental block than any “real” issue. I had a difficult time coming up with something to discuss; I like being provided topics/being told what to do and then successfully doing so. This was obviously never going to happen within this course (as it was trying to queer the classroom format with some feminist Foucault docile bodies type stuff). Basically any difficulty I had in the course (not coming from outside “real world” dilemmas) stemmed from the intentionally upset classroom format. I like to avoid classrooms in which I am not sure I have the understanding to potentially succeed. I am not saying that I want to function always in a place of knowing or confidence, but I would prefer a position of familiarity. This position was not offered in Critical Feminist Studies. But then my taking this class has moved me toward familiarity with its unformatted format, which is probably not the intention of queering the classroom.