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The Pedagogy of Discomfort

The following recommendations for works dealing with discomfort as a 
teaching tool and as a form of pedagogy appeared on WMST-L in September
2002.  For additional WMST-L files available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 08:57:56 -0700
From: Mashinda Hedgmon <mashinda AT PDX.EDU>
Subject: Pedagogy of Discomfort-is there such a thing
Morning, Afternoon, Evening all!

I'm researching the issue of ground rules as feminist pedagogy and the idea of
safe classrooms.  I've had the nagging notion that I'd come across an article
or book that dealt with discomfort by students as a tool in teaching and as
form of pedagogy.  I have not been able to find where that may have come from
and i was wondering if anyone had ever heard of this.  I'm beginning to think
this was all in my head (which is not a bad thing, but i don't feel comfortable
citing my cerebral cortex as a source when it could have been sleep

If anyone knows of where this idea comes from or has any leads that might
address ground rules or safe classrooms I would appreciate it.  I have searched
the WMST listserv archives and found 2 items when i used pedagogy and
discomfort (it's possible i have the wrong word, maybe it's not discomfort),
but they were not quite what I was looking for.

Mashinda Hedgmon
Portland State University
mashinda  AT  pdx.edu
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 12:55:19 -0400
From: Janet Gray <gray AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort-is there such a thing
Hi -

Check out _Felling Power:  Emotions and Education_ by Megan Boler for
one approach to the pedagogy of discomfort.  Really useful
material--I've assigned a couple of chapters to my students in Women in
War and Peacemaking.

Janet Gray
gray  AT  tcnj.edu
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 13:18:46 -0400
From: Jennifer Harris <jharris AT yorku.ca>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort & "safe spaces"

shameless self-promotion, I know, but check out _Atlantis: A Women's Studies
Journal_ vol. 22.2 spring 1998. There are three essays featured under the
heading "Women's Studies in Focus: Conflict and Community Building in
Women's Studies." One of them is mine, and addresses the issue of conflict,
the resulting in-class tensions, and the "solutions" often posed by faculty
which, I argue, have often been fraught in my experience. It is titled:
"Rock the Boat, Don't Tip the Boat Over: A Classroom Activist's Perspective
on Women's Studies, Conflict, and Community Building." (I went through a
phase where I slipped disco references into all papers--I desperately needed
amusement.) In the essay I also cite the idea of "safe spaces" and what they
might mean and for whom. In retrospect, I think the tensions that produced
the paper are perhaps a bit more obvious than I would have liked them to be,
but then again, that may make it a more interesting read.

All the best,
Jennifer Harris
jharris  AT  yorku.ca
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 14:44:48 -0400
From: Arnold Kahn <kahnas AT JMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort & "safe spaces"
You may also wish to check the following:  No Angel in the Classroom:
Teaching Through Feminist Discourse, BERENICE MALKAH FISHER.  Lanham, MD:
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2001. 315 pp., $21.95 (paper), ISBN:

Arnie Kahn   Day 540-568-3963   Night 540-434-0225   Fax 540-568-3322
kahnas  AT  jmu.edu
Dept. of Psych.-MSC 7401, James Madison U., Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 16:21:06 -0400
From: Miss Robin <missrobinm AT EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort-is there such a thing
you may want to check out shoshana felman's "education and crisis, or the
vicissitudes of teaching" in cathy caruth, ed. _trauma: explorations in
memory_ (johns hopkins 1995). she writes about teaching holocaust
testimonies and the "trauma" response of her class.

robin maltz
performance studies
missrobinm  AT  earthlink.net
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 08:33:34 -0500
From: Annette Henry <ahenry AT UIC.EDU>
Subject: Pedagogy of Discomfort & "safe spaces"
I wrote something on the subject some years ago in a special issue on
Feminist Pedagogy:

Henry, A.  (1993).  There are no safe places: Pedagogy as powerful and
dangerous terrain. Action in Teacher Education, 15,  4-14. I'm not near my
cabinet so I can't give references here, but Gloria Joseph, bell hooks, Joy
James, and  many other black feminists have taken up this issue.

  ahenry  AT  uic.edu
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 09:36:48 -0400
From: Laurie Finke <finkel AT KENYON.EDU>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort & "safe spaces"
I also wrote an essay a few years ago that was published in College English:
"Knowledge as Bait: Voice and the Pedagogical Unconscious." College English
55 (1993): 5-25; Rpt in Learning Desire:Perspectives on Pedagogy, Culture,
and the Unsaid, ed. Sharon Todd. Routledge, 1997.

Laurie Finke
Kenyon College
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 01:30:02 -0700
From: Barbara Scott Winkler <bwinkler AT INTERNETCDS.COM>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort-is there such a thing
Several articles in the book _Teaching Introduction to Women's Studies_
edited by me, Barbara Scott Winkler and Carolyn DiPalma problematize the
issue of "safety" in the women's studies classroom, including the
introductory essay and Jane Rinehart's concluding essay "When Things Fall
Apart."  (Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1999.)
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 12:53:31 -0400
From: "Anderson, Mia" <AndersonM AT WPUNJ.EDU>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort-is there such a thing
SCHOLARSHIP AND PEDAGOGY, has featured several (timeless) articles on the
idea of student discomfort and resistance.
(Fall '92) "From Experience to Analysis: Using Student Discomfort in the
Feminist Classroom"
(Spring '93) "Managing Student Reactions to controversial Issues in the
College Classroom"
(Spring '96) "Speaking Up at Last: Anger in the Classroom" and "Teaching
Across the Barriers: The classroom as a Site of Transformation"
(Fall '96) "Reeducating Emotions in a Feminist Classroom: Addressing
Emotional Resistance from Privileged Students"
(Fall '99) "Keepin' It Real: Three Black women Educators Discuss How We Deal
with Student Resistance to Multicultural Inclusion in the Curriculum"

Back issues of TRANSFORMATIONS can be ordered by e-mailing the Project
office at njp  AT  wpunj.edu.

I also recommend the special "Multiculturalism and Diversity in Higher
Education" issue of AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST (Nov/Dec '96), which
includes "Getting All Students to Listen: Analyzing and Coping with Student
Resistance" and "Resistance in Multicultural courses: Student, Faculty, and
Classroom Dynamics."

Mia Anderson
Mia Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Director
The New Jersey Project
Bergen Community College, Emerita
andersonm  AT  wpunj.edu
(973) 720-2456
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 07:49:59 -0700
From: Joanna Cleo Frueh <jfrueh AT unr.nevada.edu>
Subject: Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort & "safe spaces"
"Pleasure and Pedagogy," a 5-chapter section in my book Monster/Beauty:
Building the Body of Love, addresses the discomforts as well as the pleasures
of being a female body teaching.  I theorize that experience and position,
taking into consideration both the instructor and the student in regard to the
erotics of the classroom.

Joanna Frueh
Professor of Art History

Department of Art/224
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557-0007

jfrueh  AT  unr.nevada.edu

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