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Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education: Critical Theory and Practice.


Critical Theory and Practice



University of Toronto Press


When I began teaching women's studies in 1990, I'd never heard of feminist pedagogy and was acutely unsure of how to translate my experience in the women's liberation movement into a classroom setting. Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education would have helped me enormously, and I found it an interesting read, even though I am now retired.

This collection of instructors' reflections draws on experience in English Canada, the U.S., Australia and England. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous commonalities and differences in approach In their introduction, the editors sketch the pivotal development of women's studies as a discipline during a time of more general liberatory struggles. They also point to widespread constraints imposed by globalized corporate models favouring training for the labour market over education for personal and social transformation, a theme echoed by many of the individual essays.

But what is feminist pedagogy? Implicitly and explicitly, the various authors invoke analytical and practical attention to academic structures, educational processes, power relations in the classroom and intersectional analyses of teachers and students as gendered, racialized, classed and embodied subjects. Some emphasize the importance of students' personal empowerment as an aim. Others stress the necessity of using that personal transformation to strive for social change and to explore models of community-based learning.

Everyone these days acknowledges the fundamental importance of inter-sectionality (multiple, simultaneous, overlapping and interlinking identities as sites of complex relative privileges and oppressions), but only some authors discuss how they incorporate intersectionality into their classroom practices, bell hooks was the most-often-cited authority: She's a goddess, but is there a need for more diverse inspiration?

From strategies on introducing the concept of gender analysis to conservative student populations, to studying gendered prison graffiti, from the dynamics of sexual relationships in classrooms to instructors' complicated nuances of inhabiting queer, fat, racialized or sexualized bodies, this book offers a variety of provocative and challenging trains of thought in different sorts of academic settings.

Inevitably, there are some overlaps and some gaps, too. I'd have loved something from French Canada. But there is useful dynamic interplay between many chapters, with something for everyone interested in academic feminism.

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Author:Yaffe, Deborah
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2016
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