Teaching

Reflections on Writing about My Pedagogy

I recently presented a talk, “‘Arts of Noticing’: On Creating Breathing Room for Dissent,” as part of a roundtable discussion on Pedagogies of Dissent for Asian American Studies. I wrote up a detailed recap of the event on the Futures Initiative blog, so for this post I wanted to share some reflections on the process of writing about my pedagogy.

Although I have prepared numerous conference presentations before, they were all focused on my research rather than my teaching; and while I’ve written statements of teaching philosophy (mainly for job applications), this was the first time I had to deliver remarks on my pedagogy in such a public way. I twas difficult to know how and where to start.

The experiences I gained over the years teaching at a range of different institutions, with students of diverse socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, blurred together and felt too overwhelming to articulate clearly, in a way that would resonate with my potential listeners. I knew I had to offer up my personal reflections on encounters with students in the classroom carefully so they could open up, rather than foreclose, conversation about pedagogy as a practice of dissent.

Knowing this forced me to pause and really think hard about my teaching. Eventually, the strategy I came up with was to treat the preparation for this talk as a kind of course in itself. I asked myself how I would normally approach teaching a class on Asian American literature and the feelings of doubt and uncertainty dissipated. I was on familiar ground.

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Events

Event Announcement: Pedagogies of Dissent for Asian American Studies

I’m organizing the first of the Futures Initiative‘s new Thursday Dialogues series, a roundtable discussion on “Pedagogies of Dissent for Asian American Studies,” which takes inspiration from the theme of this year’s American Studies Association conference, “Pedagogies of Dissent” (November 9-12; Chicago, IL).

I am so excited to be in conversation with Kandice Chuh (Professor of English and American Studies, The Graduate Center, CUNY; President, American Studies Association) and Dorothy Wang (Associate Professor of American Studies and Faculty Affiliate in English, Williams College). See the flyer below for the full event description and hope to see you there!

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Teaching

On a Year Teaching at Fordham

It has been a difficult year, one filled with uncertainty, anger, and confusion over the new political administration in the U.S. and the directions we are heading in as a country. Recent events have made divisions clearer, sharper than ever before… So, yes, it is a new world we are living in but this racism, hate, and injustice are intertwined with long histories of oppression that people in underrepresented minoritized communities know all too well. So in another sense, this world is not that new after all.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose sight of the good that has happened this year as well. Looking back, I am filled with pride in the students I taught at Fordham who faced these trying times in the best possible way- with a willingness to listen and learn from each other. This openness to really hearing the voices and perspectives of others is something that these students modeled with bravery and grace, and I wish that it was a practice reflected more broadly in the worlds we live. I have learned so much from them and I will miss our conversations, their thoughtfulness, patience, and the many unexpected, unruly directions they took, when I assume my new role as a Postdoctoral Fellow and the Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative later this summer. Knowing this, I wanted to share some highlights of my year at Fordham, the kernels that I will remember and take with me as I press ahead:

Teaching Sabrina Vourvoulias’s Ink (2012). This magical realist novel immerses readers into a dystopian futuristic landscape where persons with any trace of an immigration history are tattooed with barcodes indicating their status, from citizen to temporary worker. Discussing this text with my classes couldn’t have happened at a better time; thinking through Vourvoulias’s novel allowed us to grapple with debates on immigration and the rhetoric of xenophobia, hate, and fear that pervaded the 2016 presidential race. It served as an anchor for reflection and critique as we grappled with fluctuating emotions in an increasingly uncertain present. And, I will say, that while the novel is dark, with too much bloodshed and loss, there is also hope that comes in the form of magic and a budding revolution.

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Research

Writing about the Dissertation

As I prepare for dissertation workshops and fellowship applications in the fall, I am reminded of this important piece of mentoring advice:

Don’t just write your dissertation, but write about it and often.

Writing about your project can be frustrating, unnerving, and even painful, but I have found that it keeps me grounded- it forces me to think about the stakes of my work and reminds me of who I am speaking to, which can be incredibly energizing. In light of this, I have decided to share some of the writing “about” my  dissertation that Duncan Faherty (Associate Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY)  invited us to complete for the American Studies dissertation workshop I am taking this fall. As always, it took me longer than expected to complete (and is of course far from perfect), but it did get me thinking about my project and the challenge of communicating it to others who might not be familiar with my topic or areas of research.

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