My teaching is informed by three guiding principles: interdisciplinarity, capacity building, and engaged learning. I structure my classroom as a dynamic environment in which a multitude of learning styles and habits are valued. To that end, I deliberately vary the class format to include lectures, group work, in-class writing, participatory activities, guest speakers, and engagements with media and pop culture. As a feminist pedagogue, I am committed to diversity in the classroom and to giving students a voice to explore the work of a number of intersecting ideologies (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, etc) in their own lives and worlds.
Interdisciplinarity. Drawing from my own interdisciplinary training and research, I emphasize a multi-modal and intersectional approach to course materials. In order to demonstrate how disciplinary formations construct knowledge, I ask students to focus on the construction of evidence through the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how? I then ask them to consider how another author we have read might engage these questions. For example, I ask students to read Adrienne’s Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality” through the questions raised in Anne Fausto-Sterling’s essay “Thinking about Homosexuality.” Students are then prompted to see the overlapping concerns of two authors who are coming from very different disciplinary formations.
Capacity Building. Students leave my course with a toolbox for critical thinking, writing, and oration. For example, to teach critical reading skills I ask students to “live tweet” selected readings. Live tweeting is a method used on twitter to rapidly relay unfolding events, be they a protest in process or a conference keynote, in less than 140 characters per tweet. Live tweets often use hashtags (ex: #WGSS) to categorize the tweet or event. Asking students to “live tweet” a reading asks them to engage the material in three specific ways: through summary, through narrative arch, and through creative re-interpretation. The limited space of the tweet challenges students to distill the overall argument of the piece into a digestible bit. For example, a student live tweeting an essay on the health care for US immigrants included the following tweets: “Citizenship status is an important factor in access to healthcare #ofcourse / We need culturally appropriate community programs #YAS / Promotoras = community health workers #wheretheyat #weneedmore / Migrant farm workers #marginalized #vulnerable #isolated.” The use of such colloquial language helps to demystify the academic language of many texts. I then encourage students to use their own simplified reinterpretations to make their writing more crisp, clear, and direct.
Engaged Learning. Students in my class take an active part in their learning and are encouraged to employ their own interests and creativity in demonstrating their knowledge acquisition and application. In my introduction to WGSS courses, each student is assigned to present an analysis of a piece of contemporary media through the lens of the week’s readings. The presenter chooses his or her own topic and is asked to facilitate class discussion for up to twenty minutes. Elsewhere in the course, I allow students to design their own final projects. I have had students propose projects as varied as tracing the rhetoric of feminist sentiments through twenty years of hip-hop to creating an online resource guide for addressing sexual assault in the Emory fraternity community.
Central to my teaching philosophy is the belief that the classroom can be a place of social transformation and empowerment of critical consciousness. I am dedicated to guiding students in the acquisition of intersectional and feminist methods of critical and reflective engagement in the world that will be of benefit in their future academic and professional careers.