The Fat Studies Reader

By Esther Rothblum; Sondra Solovay | Go to book overview

22
Sitting Pretty
Fat Bodies, Classroom Desks, and Academic Excess

Ashley Hetrick and Derek Attig

Desks hurt us. Such an admission is an appropriate way to both begin this essay and explain the primary motivation behind our exploration of student bodies in classroom environments. It is through experiencing the physical pain and social shame of classroom desks that we first became interested in the issue of space and how it is distributed and policed in and through the homogenizing structures of desks. These desks are not, we argue, neutral and benign spaces; they are, rather, highly active material and discursive constructions that seek to both indoctrinate students' bodies and minds into the middle-class values of restraint and discipline, and inscribe these messages onto the bodies that sit in them. Classroom desks are one way that “discourses [are] deployed in order to contain fat bodies, fat people … [and] simultaneously construct and erase the fat body, attempting to expel it from representation at the very moment that defines it” (Braziel & LeBesco, 2001, p. 1). At the heart of desk design is the issue of containment, the protection of rigid spatial boundaries and uncompromising values that, paradoxically, both highlight and erase bodies that refuse to conform.

To sit in these desks—primarily in chairs attached to individual writing surfaces, or auditorium seating with hinged desks—our hips and stomachs must be pushed, shoved, and squeezed into unforgiving metal, wood, and plastic. The longer we sit in them, the more uncomfortable they become, biting into fleshy abundance and often resisting attempted release. Though we rely on these experiences of pain to ground and frame our examination, we also take care to resist what could be called the tyranny of experience. When the only or primary goal of an activist or academic project is making personal experience visible, Joan Scott writes, “analysis of the workings of this system and of its historicity” is prevented (1992, p. 25). Speaking specifically of those who identify as gay, she elaborates, “We know they exist, but not how they've been constructed; we know their existence offers a critique of normative practices, but not the extent of the critique” (p. 25). Cognizant of Scott's warning, we seek to use a consideration of our experiences as fat students as a way of approaching the description and scrutiny of the social, political, and educational conditions of those experiences.

-197-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Fat Studies Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 365

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.