Difficult Subjects: Insights and Strategies for Teaching about Race, Sexuality and Gender is a collection of essays from scholars across disciplines, institutions, and ranks that offers diverse and multi-faceted approaches to teaching about subjects that prove both challenging and often uncomfortable for both the professor and the student. It encourages college educators to engage in forms of practice that do not pretend that teachers and students are unaffected by world events and incidents that highlight social inequalities. Readers will find the collected essays useful for identifying new approaches to taking on the “difficult subjects” of race, gender, and sexuality. The book will also serve as inspiration for academics who believe that their area of study does not allow for such pedagogical inquiries to also teach in ways that address difficult subjects. Contributors to this volume span a range of disciplines from criminal justice to gender studies to organic chemistry, and demonstrate the productive possibilities that can emerge in college classrooms when faculty consider “identity” as constitutive of rather than divorced from their academic disciplines.Discussions of race, gender, and sexuality are always hot-button issues in the college classroom, whether they emerge in response to a national event or tragedy or constitute the content of the class over a semester-long term. Even seasoned professors who specialize in these areas find it difficult to talk about identity politics in a room full of students. And many professors for whom issues of racial, and sexual identity is not a primary concern find it even more challenging to raise these issues with students. Offering reflections and practical guidance, the book accounts for a range of challenges facing college educators, and encourages faculty to teach with courage and conviction, especially when it feels as though the world around us is crashing down upon our students and ourselves.
Foreword—Lori Patton Davis Acknowledgements Introduction. When the Shit Hits the Fan, Do We Throw Out the Lesson Plan?—Oiyan A. Poon and Badia Ahad-Legardy Part One. (Dis)Comfort, Fragility, and the Intersections of Identity 1. A Conversation on Challenging and Using Comfort-Zone Racism in the Classroom—Rucha Ambikar, Daniel Guentchev, and Dennis Lunt 2. When Racially Just Teaching Becomes Your Own Heart. Pedagogical Strategies for Teaching Whiteness—Cheryl E. Matias, and Lisa Silverstein 3. Addressing Incivility in the Classroom. Effective Strategies for Faculty at the Margins—Chavella Pittman 4. Whiteness Matters. Tourism, Customer Service, and the Neoliberal University—David J. Leonard and Paula Price Groves 5. Black Lives, Black Women, and the Academy. “Doing” Equity and Inclusion Work at PWIs—Nicole Truesdell Part Two. Embracing Embodiment and Emotion as Pedagogical Praxis 6. Feeling Our Way to Knowing. Decolonizing the American Studies Classroom—Adriana Estill 7. Feeling Black and Blue in Preservice Teacher Education. Encountering Emotion and Embodiment in Antiracist Teaching—Esther O. Ohito and Sherry L. Deckman 8. Transformational Pedagogies of the Abject Body. An Argument for Radical Fat Pedagogies—Breanne Fahs 9. “The Least We Can Do”. Gender-Affirming Pedagogy Starting on Day One—Erica Chu 10. Creating Inclusive Classrooms. Toward Collective and Diverse Intersectional Success—Dian D. Squire, Azura Booth, and Brandon Arnold Part Three. Radical Pedagogy in "Neutral" Places 11. A Call for Difficult Conversations Around Diversity in STEM Courses—Thomas Poon 12. Diversity Matters in the STEM Classroom—Jennifer S. Fang 13. Between Critique and Professional Ambition—Akhila L. Ananth 14. Uncomfortable Learning. Teaching Race Through Discomfort in Higher Education—Jasmine L. Harris In Closing. Difficult Subjects for Difficult Times—Badia Ahad-Legardy and Oiyan A. Poon Editors and Contributors Index
“Difficult Subjects could not have come at a better time. It offers keen insights and guidance without being prescriptive. It offers critical social analysis while still being pragmatic and accessible. As educators grapple with the tensions the current administration poses, this text serves as a beautiful and necessary counterbalance as we collectively try to regain our humanity.”
Nolan Cabrera, Associate Professor, Center for the Study of Higher Education
University of Arizona
“Both teaching and learning are deeply social endeavors, shaped by our identities, involving interactions across multiple axes of difference, and often taking place within high-stakes contexts. This volume is a crucial intervention not only in illuminating the many challenges we face as university faculty who want to teach 'difficult subjects' but in providing a road map for many who themselves have been cast as 'difficult subjects' to find ways to be effective and to thrive in the academy. Extremely timely, this book provides both new and veteran critical educators with critical insights for doing our work in these tough times. Together, the experiences and the concrete strategies shared across the chapters of this volume help provide a roadmap for navigating changing university environments and for persisting in the crucial work of teaching students to think critically about race, gender and sexuality. This book is a must-read for both those who are new to the classroom and those who are looking for support and sustenance to persist."
Amanda E. Lewis, Professor of African-American Studies & Sociology, and Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
University of Illinois at Chicago
“Through Difficult Subjects, Poon and Ahad-Legardy offer a necessary compilation for our time. In an era of increasingly fraught community dialogues about the no-no’s of 'polite' conversation – race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and class – college campuses cannot pretend to remain neutral. In contrast, these scholars’ experiences as teachers and educators of fields from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences is both challenging and inspiring. As argued in this volume, 'pedagogies of critical literacy' are essential and relevant in every field of study. This book should be required reading by faculty and administrators at every college and university that portends to embrace equity and justice and claims to be about the business of developing the leaders of the next generation.”
Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Professor, School of Education
Colorado State University