Coiled Tongues: A Critical Reading of Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker by Joanna Kadi

By Al-Fadhel, Munira K. | Nebula, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Coiled Tongues: A Critical Reading of Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker by Joanna Kadi


Al-Fadhel, Munira K., Nebula


Contemporary minority women's autobiographies have significantly altered, over the past few decades, our understanding of the social and political basis of identity formation. In their articulation of their own subjectivities, minority women autobiographers expressed an urgent need to conceptualize issues relating to women's place and writing and traditional forms within patriarchal systems in conjunction with issues of race, class and gender.

Current social structure in the U.S. portrays various degrees of inequality where race, class, and gender form a complicated web of power relations. As an instance of this, minority working class women often suffer from a triple marginalization based on their concurrent gender, class and racial inequality.

Noticeably, minority women writers have made that triple discrimination one of their main thematic focuses. Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker by Joanna Kadi, comes with the urge to write history 'from below', from the perspective of ordinary working class women, making them central to historical interpretation and to the writing of the collective biography of subclasses. In the preface to her autobiography, Kadi remarks: "I didn't write this book alone...Without discounting the incredible amount of work I did, I am focusing here on communal aspects of working-class experience reflected in my life and writing." (Kadi, p.5) Kadi emphasizes the group effort that marks the pages of her book, mirroring thus, the working-class tradition of barn raisings and quilting bees. This could account for the multi-faceted and multi-layered structure of the autobiographical discourse adopted by the author.

Autobiography, has long been considered the literary expression of individualism, of a belief in an integrated and coherent personality central to the narrated experience. At the outset of her narrative, Kadi projects a different view and rejects this notion of writing as an individual experience, 'Don't imagine a lone rugged individual fixedly concentrating in her study with the door firmly closed against any intruders -human, feline, or canine.' (Kadi, p.5) For her there are no myths about triumphant figures pursuing fame and fortune, and most importantly, 'We weren't raised to believe we could do it alone, and I'd never trade this dependence on and interaction with community for any fictitious rugged individualism.' (Kadi, p.5) Personal histories that link the individual with particular communities at given historical junctures, as Caren Kaplan states, can be read as cultural autobiographies, 'The link between individual and community forged in the reading and writing...deconstructs the individualism of autobiography's Western legacy and casts the writing and reading of out-law genres as a mode of cultural survival.' (Kaplan, p.213) This notion is also emphasized by Susan Friedman who asserts that, "The emphasis on individualism as the necessary pre-condition for autobiography is thus a reflection of the privilege, one that excludes from the canons of autobiography those writers that have been denied by history the illusion of individualism." (Friedman, pp.34-62)

Kadi goes beyond the traditional (auto)biographical convention of verifiability or attempted objectivity, as she models for the reader a consciousness that is intent on questioning its own assumptions, and constantly redefining itself, as, and apart from 'the other'. That is why writing for her becomes a resistance:

   My writing results from this desire to resist; it
   stems from deep feelings of love and caring--for
   people in my communities, for dogged survivors
   who refuse to succumb to forces wearing them
   down day after day, for the ones who've
   generated beauty in spite of incredible hardship,
   for the wise, articulate, sweet people I grew up
   with who disappeared quietly into the night
   because they were too yellow and too poor. (Kadi, p.14)

What results is a narrative strategy that links past and current events, past experience with present understanding, and past self with present self-construction. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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 article

This article 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 article

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

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 article

Coiled Tongues: A Critical Reading of Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker by Joanna Kadi
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.