Notes: Jonathan Alexander “Introduction: Toward Sexual Literacy”, in Literacy, Sexuality, Pedagogy: Theory and Practice for Composition Studies

Alexander, Jonathan. (2008). Introduction: Toward sexual literacy. Literacy, sexuality, pedagogy: Theory and practice for composition studies. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1-30.

Summary:

Alexander, in the introduction to his book, defines a critical sexual literacy that he argues is essential for the furthering development of a writing instruction after the social turn in composition studies that can acknowledge sexuality and literacy as interconnected. Alexander demonstrates, through scholarship in both queer theory and studies as well as the literature of the social turn in composition studies, the grounds by which a pedagogy of critical sexual literacy can and should be founded.

Keywords: composition, cultural rhetorics, literacy, literacy studies, LGBTQ, pedagogy, queer, queer rhetorics, queer theory, rhetoric, sexuality, writing studies

Sources:

Berlin, James A., and Michael J. Vivion. (1992). Cultural studies in the English classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Heinemann.

Goncalves, Zan Meyer. (2005). Sexuality and the politics of ethos in the writing classroom. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Malinowitz, Harriet. (1995). Textual orientations: Lesbian and gay students and the making of discourse communities. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Quotations:

“More significantly for us as writing and literacy specialists, sexuality–or the varied ways in which narratives of intimacy, pleasure, the body, gender, and identity become constructed and disseminated personally, socially, and politically–is itself a complex literacy event, evoking narrations of self, connections with others through complex discourses, and political formations mediated through ideological investments…. That connecting point–between our most personal, deep-seated senses of self and the ‘social norms’ that organize democratic societies–is often story, narrative, and ideological discourse” (p. 1).

“Put simply, the stories we tell about sexuality are part and parcel, even central at times, to the stories we tell about ourselves, individually, collectively, and politically. As such, being literate in our society–that is, being able to work knowledgeably, engagingly, and critically with some of the dominant stories that organize our lives, individually and collectively–must necessarily take into consideration an understanding of the complex ways in which sexuality plays a significant role in our personal and public self-definitions, in the ideologically valenced stories we tell about our lives” (p. 4-5).

“I see two primary goals for writing instruction and writing studies…. First, we need methods for writing instruction that allow all students–gay, straight, bisexual, or those refusing an identification–to articulate, understand, and critique the ways in which sexuality and literacy impact one another in contemporary Anglo-American culture…. Second, we as scholars and teachers need to recognize how some students are already undertaking such analysis in their own extracurricular literacy practices, as well as how our own pedagogies might benefit productively from such an analysis” (p. 17-18).

“I believe, though, that “sexual literacy”… should also be an intimate understanding of the ways in which sexuality is constructed in language and the ways in which our language and meaning-making systems are always already sexualized” (p. 18).

“Development of a sexual literacy, then, is development of fluency with the very narrations through which our identities themselves are often achieved” (p. 19).

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