Notes: Paul Walker, “Let’s Disagree (to Agree): Queering the Rhetoric of Agreement in Writing Assessment”

Walker, Paul. (2017). Let’s disagree (to agree): Queering the rhetoric of agreement in writing assessment. Composition Forum, 35. Web. http://compositionforum.com/issue/35/agreement.php

Summary:

Walker uses queer theory perspectives on failure to challenge assumptions of agreement or validity.

Keywords: composition, failure, queer, queer rhetorics, rhetoric, writing assessment, writing studies

Sources:

Heard, Matthew. (2013). Tonality and ethos. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 46(1), 44-64.

Scott, Tony and Lil Brannon. (2013). Democracy, struggle, and the praxis of assessment. College Composition and Communication, 65(2), 273-298.

Walker, Paul. (2013). Composition’s akrasia: The devaluing of intuitive expertise in writing assessment. enculturation, 15. http://enculturation.net/compositions-akrasia.

Quotations:

“In such an ‘uncontained’ sense, here I adopt a queer positionality from which perspective I consider the “disorienting excess” emerging from an assessment study relegated to the margins as a result of its failure to meet empirical measures of significance—statistical reliability standards—that orient and are “contained” by writing assessment scholarship”.

“[F]ailure becomes instead a path to nowhere, a space wherein we cannot predict, and by doing so, generate alternative ways of sustaining”.

“I am in no way suggesting agreement, confirmation, or reliability are wrong intrinsically; rather, I propose that agreement as the subsumption of difference can, through institutional mandates and what D. Diane Davis calls the “rhetoric of totality” (12), marginalize queerness by reifying masculinized and capitalistic traditions, including the persistent upward trajectory of merit or value-added results and the assumption that answers to difficult questions about learning and performance and identity are waiting to be found by acting subjects”.

“Constantly moving towards the center, towards explicit harmony and sameness via expected standards of social-scientific statistical measurement to determine the “success” of assessment, reinforces for those outside our discipline the primacy of a correct methodology over complexly and ecologically hermeneutic meaning and validity, thus maintaining enough legitimacy for administrators to continue to coopt a reductive and possibly irresponsible holistic methodology”.

“Intuition, of course, is scientifically queer, for it resists the requirement of outside or empirical verification; indeed, it resists replicated verity as validation, proposing instead that extensive experience affords individually nuanced interpretations by multiple individuals that is more valuable in their ecological complexity than multiple individuals arriving at one clear determinate interpretation”.

“Our aim as teachers is to facilitate learning, which stubbornly resists accuracy, consistency, generalizability, fairness, efficiency, or any other term that is usually applied to calibrated assessment”.

Notes: David Harvey, “Calculating Risk: Barebacking, the Queer Male Subject, and the De/formation of Identity Politics”

Harvey, David O. (2011). Calculating risk: Barebacking, the queer male subject, and the de/formation of identity politics. Discourse, 33(2), 156-183.

Summary:

Harvey discusses the rhetorical challenges of barebacking discourses and works to departicularize them from queer experience by articulating how these discourses operate.

Keywords: barebacking, biopolitics, queer, queer theory, queer rhetorics

Quotations:

“The definitional ambiguity about the practice will shed light on what I understand as a queer mode of world-making that blurs the connection between the behavior of barebacking and its connection to a specific and namable mode of being” (p. 158).

“Considering barebacking as an intricately vitiating force may be unsettling, but accepting the validity of such an insight need not an exclude an acknowledgment of the dangers associated with barebacking. Moreover, the manner of calculation in relation to barebacking is not limited to its practitioners; it includes the discourse by which these persons are narrated, accounted for, and figured. Risk again animates these discussions, as many fear the risk barebacking poses not only in the war against HIV/AIDS but also in the campaign for gay equality” (p. 159).

“A biopolitical import can be gleaned within this tacit disagreement between discourses of print and media and discourses of the queer everyday if we understand the mechanics of prescriptive culpability operating behind finger-pointing discursive models. These models ultimately serve to locate and isolate the particularized bodies that behave outside their laws of calculability, laws that are instantiated upon the discovery of a physiologically and sociopolitically hazardous mode of sexuality” (p. 175).

Notes: Eric H. Newman, “Ephemeral Utopias: Queer Cruising, Literary Form, and Diasoporic Imagination in Claude McKay’s Home in Harlem and Banjo”

Newman, Eric H. (2015). Ephemeral utopias: Queer cruising, literary form, and diasporic imagination in Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem and Banjo. Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, 38(1), 167-185.

Summary:

Newman examine’s McKay’s work as being structured through queer associations with cruising and diaspora.

Keywords: diaspora, critical race theory, LGBTQ, queer, queer studies, utopianism

Quotations:

“Though queer sexual encounters in early-twentieth-century America were often clandestine affairs of fleeting duration, the sexual practices that organized such encounters were as powerful as they were ephemeral, making imaginable a community that could appear and disappear virtually anywhere and which composed itself out of a promiscuous assortment of classed and racialized bodies” (p. 167-168).

“[C]ruising is defined in two distinct but complementary ways: wandering or lingering in public places looking for anonymous, casual sex; and, as a peregrinating movement through dense urban space that finds transgressive pleasure and stimulation in random encounters with the persons, objects, and architecture that constellate the modern metropolis” (p. 169).

“The context in which cruising unfolds in the novel—across spaces populated by queers and largely organized by the circulation of same-sex desire—makes visible the relationship between queerness, as practice and habitation, and the novel’s diasporic vision. Queer encounters, or encounters with queers, offer a consciousness-raising education for McKay’s heterosexual characters” (p. 172).

“Cruising brings out a love of difference that transcends the limits of nation and language as it moves the body through ephemeral and powerful contact with a range of anonymous partners. As eroticized travel, cruising in McKay’s novels is oriented toward the utopian “beauty of other horizons,” the possibility of an encounter with others that does not adhere to national, racial, or class distinctions, but which promiscuously finds love everywhere” (p. 175).

“In its resistance to the normative organization of bodies and time, the ephemerality of cruising gives it the unique capacity to (re)envision the relationship between the self and the other in ways that constitute a new orientation to the world predicated on an anti-teleological looping of attachment to and detachment from an ever-expanding pool of bodies and spaces” (p. 176).

Amy Villarejo, “Tarrying with the Normative: Queer Theory and Black History”

Villarejo, Amy. (2005). Tarrying with the normative: Queer theory and black history. Social Text, 23.3–4, 69–84.

Summary:

Villarejo develops a queer of color critique that tends to the symptom (the affective) and system (the normative).

Keywords: affect, bodies, critical race theory, embodiment, film studies, queer, queer theory

Quotations:

“[Q]ueer theory seems to me most equipped to ‘tarry with the normative’ when it forsakes its claims to the literal and makes for the more dangerous—but also more commodious—complications of relationality and variegation.1 Queer is but one name, hurled back with pride, for social abjection, exclusion, marginalization, and degradation; it provides, by this logic, but one opening toward freedom” (p. 70).

“Queer theory offers a view of relationality that is not strictly speaking symptomatic; it offers ways to fly with language and desire away from homology and continuity. Queer theory can offer, in other words, a way to grapple with feeling and with response (affect), a way to work in the interstices of contacts, affiliations, relations” (p. 75).

“The powers of the normative do not yield themselves at all times according to systematic rules of equivalence, where what is progressive lines up historically or theoretically with content alone…. The challenge is to parse the difference between prescription/symptom and living/agency, to resist the desire to tell the old story about how black nationalism is a ruthlessly masculinist enterprise, or to remark the heteronormative assumptions without moving on. The challenge is not, finally, to confuse similarity with equivalence” (p. 82).

Notes: Pamela VanHaitsma, “Queering the Language of the Heart: Romantic Letters, Genre Instruction, and Rhetorical Practice”

VanHaitsma, Pamela. (2014). Queering the language of the heart: Romantic letters, genre instruction, and rhetorical practice. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 44.1, 6–24.

Summary:

VanHaitsma, in studying 19th Century letter writing manuals and letters, argues that these genre instruction manuals taught heteronormative rhetorical practices of letter writing, but in this instruction created moments of queer repurposing or adaptation.

Keywords: genre, queer, queer rhetorics, rhetoric, writing studies

Quotations:

“In teaching ways of being, genre instruction in the romantic letter was heteronormative insofar as it systematically normalized opposite-sex relations—and, just as importantly, particular versions of them” (p. 8).

“Yet, even as manuals taught a heteronormative conception of romantic relations, they provided resources for composing queerly gender-crossing forms of address” (p. 10).

“Manuals did not teach that writers compose romantic letters simply to develop romantic relationships, or to develop conversations within romantic relationships about a range of topics, such as politics. Instead, manuals taught that the purpose of romantic letters was to court or be courted in pursuit of marriage between a man and a woman” (p. 16).

“Yet even as manual instruction was mainly heteronormative, it taught the romantic letter genre as open to nonnormative adaptation through gender-crossing address, unrestrained outbreaks, and queer repurposing. In other words, however normative genres and genre instruction may be, they are not entirely settled; they are flexible and susceptible to queer challenge and repurposing” (p. 20).

Notes: Gust Yep, “From Homophobia and Heterosexism to Heteronormativity: Toward the Development of a Model of Queer Intervention in the University Classroom”

Yep, Gust A. (2002). From homophobia and heterosexism to heteronormativity: Toward the development of a model of queer interventions in the university classroom. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 6(3-4), 163-76.

Summary:

Yep discusses the ways in which heteronormativity exists structurally and develops an activity that Yep integrated into a classroom to get students engaged in understanding LGBTQ experiences and heterosexual privilege.

Keywords: affect, communication, LGBTQ, pedagogy, queer, queer rhetorics

Quotations:

“These pervasive messages promote and maintain the ideology of heteronormativity, that is, if ‘you are not heterosexual, there is something wrong with you.’ When such messages are internalized and incorporated into one’s conception of selfhood and identity, they become internalized homophobia and they constitute soul murder” (p. 169).

“For LGBT individuals, heteronormativity creates the conditions for homophobia, soul murder, psychic terror, and institutional violence. In addition, such violence is experienced and negotiated differently based on the individual’s race, class, and gender. For heterosexual individuals, interrogation of heteronormativity means understanding their unearned privileges and perhaps seeing how sexual hierarchies limit personal freedom, human creativity, and individual expression” (p. 174).

Notes: Sara Ahmed, “Lesbian Feminism” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Lesbian feminism. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 213-234.

Summary:

Ahmed moves in this chapter to recall lesbian feminism in order to show lesbian feminism as confronting structures that inflict violences. From lesbian feminisms withdrawing from and building from the ruins of oppressive systems, Ahmed calls for an intersectional feminist army.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, intersectionality, queer, queer theory, theory, transgender

Quotations:

“When a life is what we have to struggle for, we struggle against structures. It is not necessarily the case that these struggles always lead to transformation (though neither does one’s involvement in political movements). But to struggle against something is to chip away at something. Many of these structures are not visible or tangible unless you come up against them” (p. 214).

“The desire for recognition is not necessarily about having access to a good life or being included in the institutions that have left you shattered. It is not necessarily an aspiration for something: rather, it comes from the experience of what is unbearable, what cannot be endured” (p. 221).

“To build from the ruin; our building might seemed ruined; when we build, we ruin. It is lesbian feminist hope: to become a ruin, to ruin by becoming” (p. 232).