|About the Book|
How do historically marginalized groups expose the partiality and presumptions of educational institutions through autobiographical acts? How are the stories we tell used to justify resistance to change or institutional complacency? These are theMoreHow do historically marginalized groups expose the partiality and presumptions of educational institutions through autobiographical acts? How are the stories we tell used to justify resistance to change or institutional complacency? These are the questions Wendy S. Hesford asks as she considers the uses of autobiography in educational settings. This book demonstrates how autobiographical acts-oral, written, performative, and visual-play out in vexed and contradictory ways and how in the academy they can become sites of cultural struggle over multicultural education, sexual harassment, institutional racism, hate speech, student activism, and commemorative practices. Within the context of Oberlin, a small liberal arts college in Ohio, and beginning with a speak-out organized by Asian American students in 1995, this book looks at the uses of autobiographical practices in empowering groups traditionally marginalized in academic settings. Investigating the process of self-representation and the social, spatial, and discursive frames within which academic bodies and identities are constituted, Framing Identities explores the use of autobiographical acts in terms of power, influence, risks involved, and effectiveness. Hesford does not endorse autobiography as an unequivocal source of empowerment, however. Instead, she illustrates how autobiographical practices in the academy can mobilize competing and often irreconcilable interests. Hesford argues that by integrating self-reflection into cultural, rhetorical, and material analyses-and encouraging students to do the same-teachers not only will largely justify attention to the personal in the classroom, they will help their communities move beyond a naive identity politics. Framing Identities provides a model for teacher-researchers across the disciplines (education, English, composition, cultural studies, womens studies, to name a few) to investigate the contradictory uses and consequences of autobiography at their own institutions, and to carve out new pedagogical spaces from which they and their students can emerge as social, political, and intellectual subjects.