Feminism beyond Modernism

By Elizabeth A. Flynn | Go to book overview

7
Employing Resistance in Postmodern-
Feminist Teaching

Resistance. 1. The act, on the part of persons, of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. 2. Power or capacity of resisting. 3. Opposition of one material thing to another material thing, force, etc.

OED

Resistance: a word for the fear, dislike, hesitance most people have about turning their entire lives upside down and watching everything they have ever learned disintegrate into lies. “Empowerment” may be liberating, but it is also a lot of hard work and new responsibility to sort through one's life and rebuild according to one's own values and choices.

—Kathy Kea, quoted in Patti Lather, Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy with/in the Postmodern

As I make clear in chapter 6, postmodern-feminist approaches to the teaching of writing are just beginning to emerge within the field of rhetoric and composition. Here I emphasize that an important dimension of a postmodern-feminist approach in both literary studies and rhetoric and composition is dealing with student resistance. Feminist antimodern expressivists, who tend to have radical- or cultural-feminist orientations, place faith in the inherent willingness on the part of students to grow and develop as writers once they are free of the constraints imposed by modern teachers and educational institutions. Modern Marxist feminists tend to place faith in the ability of the teacher to direct rebellious and frustrated students toward the development of critical perspectives and toward activism. Postmodern-feminist approaches aim to make students aware of inequalities and abuses of power but recognize that student resistance to pedagogies of resistance is a probability. In entitling this chapter as I have, therefore, I intend two meanings: (1) We have begun to develop pedagogies that resist abuses of power in various forms, but our students often resist these pedagogies; and (2) we need to develop strategies for making productive use of their resistance.

The first statement is fairly easy to support. More difficult is developing ways of redirecting the resistance of our students to our pedagogies of resistance. A good example of student resistance is the attitude of a student in a course I have

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