Critical Literacy, Library Space, & Unlikely Scholars

Recently I attended a Diversity Summit session titled Culturally Responsive Classrooms through Critical Literacy and Learning presented by Dr. Thea Yurkewecz and Dr. Crystal Simmons. At the session, we discussed the significant underrepresentation and misrepresentation of groups of people in classroom libraries. Critical literacy is a tool for teachers to choose books that are culturally sensitive and help students to study representation in texts. This is a way for teachers to avoid the dangers of the single-story, as presented in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk.

I think the session was highly relevant to ENGL 337 in two ways. Firstly, critical literacy is a lens through which we can examine our course texts. That will not be the focus of my blog post, but I will include the critical literacy guiding questions from the session in case anyone is interested. Secondly, critical literacy addresses the physical and figurative space taken up by African-American literature on bookshelves. Continue reading “Critical Literacy, Library Space, & Unlikely Scholars”

Authors’ Consent

In seeking to better understand the concept, I found a broad definition of consent from Merriam-Webster dictionary that reads, “compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another.” This means that there are at least two parties, a seeker and a provider of consent. The SUNY policy handout from class offers additional details to inform our understanding, including the statement that consent “is clear.” It further explains, “Affirmative consent is a clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement…” If we are considering consent in non-sexual contexts, then the logistics of clear, affirmative consent can be complicated. Should you ask permission every time you want to rant to a friend about your day? Are you responsible for seeking permission to use a project group chat on the weekends? To seek permission for these things would certainly limit the risk of doing harm to others, but it would be impossible to anticipate and prepare for all ways that such harm could occur. Because of this, I can see the “gray area” that Jessica refers to in her most recent blog post. Continue reading “Authors’ Consent”

Occupation of Space

At the outset of ENGL 337, Beth informed the class that the texts and sources that we would encounter throughout the semester would often seem out of harmony, if not contradictory. She explained that the course material was selected intentionally to avoid the hazards of a single-story. The TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie explains this issue  in depth, pointing to her own experiences growing up in Nigeria and then attending school in the United States. She found that her American roommate viewed the continent of Africa as a monolith of poverty and violence, for this was the only narrative to which the roommate had been exposed. In order to be informed on the complexities of a subject such as African-American Literature, we as readers must be exposed to diverse narratives on the subject.

Continue reading “Occupation of Space”