Notes: Katja Thieme & Shurli Makmillen, “A Principled Uncertainty: Writing Studies Methods in Contexts of Indigeneity”

Thieme, Katja, & Shurli Makmillen. (2017). A principled uncertainty: Writing studies methods in contexts of indigeneity. College Composition and Communication, 68(3), 466-493.

Summary:

Thieme & Makmillen situate research methods as reproducing disciplinary epistemologies and trouble assumptions of validity and universality by situating research methods as a principled response, drawing on indigenous rhetorics and genre theory.

Keywords: cultural rhetorics, disciplinarity, genre, indigenous rhetorics, methodology, research methods, rhetoric, writing studies

Sources:

Bhattacharya, Kakali. (2007). Consenting to the consent form: What are the fixed and fluid understandings between the researcher and the researched? Qualitative Inquiry, 13(8), 1095–115.

Cole, Daniel. (2011). Writing removal and resistance: Native American rhetoric in the composition classroom. College Composition and Communication, 63(1), 122–44.

Quotations:

“At the heart of critical questions on a method’s transparency and reproducibility are concerns about what it is that is being reproduced if research follows the path of established forms of inquiry” (p. 468).

“References to methods are a shorthand that is similarly indicative of community practices and allegiances. Like genre names, method references focus on central but isolated aspects of a process that involves rich and varying sets of steps and interactions. These shorthands can create a sense of stability and naturalization” (p. 469).

Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Reflections: Memoir as Public Feelings Research Method” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. (2012). Reflections: Memoir as public feelings research method. in Depression: A public feeling. Durham: Duke University Press.

Summary:

Cvetkovich details memoir as a research method and positions this within academic and therapeutic culture.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminist Rhetorics, Queer, Memoir, Research Methods

Quotations:

“Memoir has been an undeniable force in queer subcultures, where it has been an entry point into the literary public sphere for working-class writers, the backbone of solo performance, and a mainstay for small presses” (74).

“Exemplifying deconstructive principles, academic memoir can expose the material conditions and subject positions that underlie intellectual production” (75).

“The memoir tries to be honest about the ways that activism can sometimes stall out in the routines of daily life, rather than offering revolution as the prescription for change… It suggests that when asking big questions about what gives meaning to our lives, or how art and politics can promote social justice or save the planet, ordinary routines can be a resource” (80).

“The memoir also functions as a research method because it reveals the places where feeling and lived experience collide with academic training and critique” (80).

“Personal narrative can be a forum for the places where ordinary feelings and abstract thinking don’t line up. The impasses of depression and writer’s block can live in those interstices, and alternative forms of writing can spring them loose as foundations for innovative thought” (82).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “La herencia de Coatlicue” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “La herencia de Coatlicue.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa discusses her psyche’s coping and crossings of/between separations of self and the collective power over the self of each inner self.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Rhetorics, De/Postcolonial

Quotations:

“There are many defense strategies that the self uses to escape the agony of inadequacy and I have used all of them. I have split from and disowned those parts of myself that others rejected. I have used rage to drive others away and to insulate myself against exposure. I have reciprocated contempt for those who have roused shame in me. I have internalized rage and contempt, one part of the self (the accusatory, persecutory, judgmental) using defense strategies against another part of the self (the object of contempt)” (45).

“The soul uses everything to further its own making” (46).

“Every increment of consciousness, every step forward is a travesía, a crossing. I am again an alien in new territory…. Knowledge makes me more aware, it makes me more conscious. “Knowing” is painful because after “it” happens I can’t stay in the same place and be comfortable. I am no longer the person I was before” (48).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “Entering the Serpent,” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “Entering the Serpent.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa discusses means by which colonization imposes duality on her culture’s psyche.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Rhetorics, De/Postcolonial

Quotations:

“I know things older than Freud, older than gender. She—that’s how I think of la Víbora, Snake Woman. Like the ancient Olmecs, I know the Earth is a coiled Serpent” (26).

“I allowed white rationality to tell me that the existence of the “other world” was mere pagan superstition. I accepted their reality, the “official” reality of the rational, reasoning mode which is connected with external reality, the upper world, and is considered the most developed consciousness—the consciousness of duality” (37).

“In trying to become “objective,” Western culture made “objects” of things and people when it distanced itself from them, thereby losing “touch” with them. This dichotomy is the root of all violence” (37).

La facultad is the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface. It is an instant “sensing,” a quick perception arrived at without conscious reasoning. It is an acute awareness mediated by the part of the psyche that does not speak, that communicates in images and symbols which are the faces of feelings, that is, behind which feelings reside/hide” (38).

“Fear develops the proximity sense aspects of la facultad. But there is a deeper sensing that is another aspect of this faculty. It is anything that breaks into one’s everyday mode of perception, that causes a break in one’s defenses and resistance, anything that takes one from one’s habitual grounding, causes the depths to open up, causes a shift in perception. This shift in perception deepens the way we see concrete objects and people; the senses become so acute and piercing that we can see through things, view events in depth, a piercing that reaches the underworld (the realm of the soul). As we plunge vertically, the break, with its accompanying new seeing, makes us pay attention to the soul, and we are thus carried into awareness—an experiencing of soul (Self)” (39).

“We lose something in this mode of initiation, something is taken from us: our innocence, our unknowing ways, our safe and easy ignorance” (39).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa writes gets at defining culture and the limitations imposed on the self.

Keywords: Cultural Rhetorics, Culture, Decolonial/Postcolonial, Queer, Feminist Rhetorics, Minority Rhetorics, Critical Race Theory

Quotes:

“There is a rebel in me—the Shadow-Beast. It is a part of me that refuses to take orders from outside authorities. It refuses to take orders from my conscious will, it threatens the sovereignty of my rulership. It is that part of me that hates constraints of any kind, even those self-imposed. At the least hint of limitations on my time or space by others, it kicks out with both feet. Bolts” (16).

“Culture forms our beliefs. We perceive the version of reality that it communicates. Dominant paradigms, predefined concepts that exist as unquestionable, unchangeable, are transmitted to us through culture” (16).

“Deviance is whatever is condemned by the community. Most societies try to get rid of their deviants…. The queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe’s fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore sub-human, inhuman, non-human” (18).

“The world is not a safe place to live in…. The ability to respond is what is meant by responsibility, yet our cultures take away our ability to act—shackle us in the name of protection” (20-21).

Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “The Homland, Aztlán/El otro México.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa introduces the idea of borderlands and discusses her experience of living along the Texas-Mexico border, historicizing her experience within cultural contexts.

Keywords: Cultural Rhetorics, Culture, Decolonial/Postcolonial

Quotes:

“But the skin of the earth is seamless.
The sea cannot be fenced,
el mar does not stop at borders.
To show the white man what she thought of his
arrogance,
Yemaya blew that wire fence down” (3).

“This land was Mexican once,
was Indian always
and is.
And   will be again” (3).

“Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them…. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary”

“[Borderlands are] a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants” (3).