I have an academic crush on Gloria Anzaldúa.

gloria-anzalsuab

There are many reasons why this week’s readings speak to me.  Why don’t I just mestiza this post up by using a nice little numbered list to tell you about them?

  1. Crossing Borderlands is just a much more pleasant book to read out of than Norton.  Size matters, it turns out, and behemoth anthologies with onion skin paper and skinny little margins don’t bring the same satisfaction.
  2. The title of this week’s theme didn’t immediately ring a “transcultural” alarm in my head, so the mestiza-centered, borderland ideas sort of snuck up on me, and I was so, so happy to see them; unfortunately, I already used my “my jam” card, and Adrienne called this week, so I’ll have to just call this “my happy place wheelhouse.”
  3. Like Lindy stated in an earlier week’s post, I too enjoy identifying connections, and when I see links between my M.A. in ESL and Cross Cultural Studies and my Ph.D. program in Writing and Rhetoric, I am tan contenta.
  4. I have an academic crush on Gloria Anzaldúa.

It’s this last one I’d like to expand on, hence the title of my post.  See, I knew Andrea Lunsford was a smart, smart lady, because she has the good sense to follow me on Twitter.  But to frame an academic essay around interviewing someone as awesome as Gloria Anzaldúa?  That’s some next level ish right there, people.  While there’s plenty of awesomely exciting content on which one might center a “substantive response to something in the reading” this week, the thing that’s been at the center of my personal response has been more in terms of this thing we call “the field,” and, in even broader strokes, on the idea of academia in general.  

First of all, Andrea Lunsford and Lahoucine Ouzgane’s “Composition and Postcultural Studies: An Introduction” struck me as an extraordinary way to state one’s themes and designs for gathering together multiple texts.  They identify the themes as: “resisting the urge to speak for students, valuing student voices and student writing, a focus on access and agency,” etc. (5), and they write that the “essays collected here seek to build on composition’s traditional concerns– for access, agency and material conditions of student writers and their teachers– by situation these concerns in the context of postcolonial theory and in richly situated pedagogical practice” (4).  On both pages, my eyes lit up.  I appreciate when someone can describe a movement or an idea in “the field” that feels warm and important to me.  When Lunsford and Ouzgane described a kind of turning of the tables in the goals of composition, I legitimately grinned, like an overtired, overexcited scholar: “Rejecting the role traditionally assigned writing programs to ‘wash out’ a goodly proportion of those admitted to college, composition scholars instead developed robust theories of writing that went beyond traditional formalism” (2).  I’m sorry for doubling up, but actually, I really do have to call that my jam too.  It can be jam to us both, Adrienne!

Other ways in which this week’s readings made me think deeply and broadly about our field and about academia in general, in addition to thinking specifically and keenly about postcolonial composition theories, include the following:

  • Lunsford and Ouzgane refer to Andrea Greenbaum on page 4, and Greenbaum is my archangel of combining composition with comedy.  Seeing her name again sparked a re-interest in looking at a piece that she wrote, “Stand-up Comedy as Rhetorical Argument,” that will be one of my seminal texts for my dissertation proposal, and looking atthat brought me to another piece that she wrote, “Women’s Comic Voices: The Art and Craft of Female Humor.”  I tweeted that it was blowing my mind, and she retweeted it, and it’s always fun when your archangel retweets you, as a general rule.  That tangent also unearthed some other incredibly promising things that I have to put on hold for just a bit while I focus on current projects for class, but once I’m ready to start getting the ol’ comps list together and fine tuning my dissertation proposal, that stuff is going to rock my world so hard and I’m souped that I found it.
  • Revisiting Anzaldúa via Lunsford’s capable treatment was a reminder about how beautiful and enlightening and important, in a relative way, academic work can be.  I am never trying to hate on the ivory tower and the people in it, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way, but I am always questioning the frameworks and traditions of academia, not because I’m trying to be a dissenting pain in the butt, but because I have real questions that I’m sharing and working through.  Coming across a beautiful little piece like Lunsford’s “Toward a Mestiza Rhetoric: Gloria Anzaldúa on Composition and Postcoloniality” is a lovely reminder for me that academia is, in fact, a place I wish to be a part of, even if I do have questions about the way it all works.
  • Revisiting Anzaldúa via Lunsford’s capable treatment also helped me in the reading of our other texts for the week, because I read them through Anzaldúa, and as I said, I have an academic crush on her.  I really do wish we could have been roommates in college.
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