Notes: Sarah Orem and Neil Simpkins, “Weepy Rhetoric, Trigger Warnings, and the Work of Making Mental Illness Visible in the Writing Classroom”

Orem, Sarah & Neil Simpkins. (2015). Weepy rhetoric, trigger warnings, and the work of making mental illness visible in the writing classroom. Enculturation, 20.

Summary:

Orem and Simpkins develop an idea of trigger warnings as ‘weepy rhetoric’ that performs outwardly a reclaiming of assumptions of mental illness.

Keywords: Trigger warnings, mental illness, disability rhetorics

Quotations:

“Trigger warnings have long been used in feminist-, queer-, and disability-activist settings online, but the public discussion of trigger-warned syllabi came specifically on the heels of the ratification of Oberlin College’s 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act” (para. 2).

“We believed that navigating academic careers while mentally ill demonstrated our resilience, but as journalistic and scholarly op-eds on trigger warnings populated our computer screens, we learned that the opposite conclusion was being drawn by some: only recently, we participated in a highly public online conversation about trigger warnings in which a fellow academic declared that ‘PTSD is the new ‘my dog ate my homework’'” (para. 3).

“[W]e argue that trigger warnings function as what we term weepy rhetoric, a mode of crying through text. Pouring out difficult, messy emotions in academic spaces, trigger warnings function as reverse discourse, reclaiming damaging assumptions about the mentally ill” (para. 6).

“Weeping, therefore, is a dramatic performance of making visible the complex interrelation of emotional and physical, visible and invisible pain. It is a concept rooted in the embodiment of emotional pain” (para. 11).

“A trigger warning, we suggest, weeps. It is weepy rhetoric—a method of calling attention to pain through language, while foregrounding the interrelation between emotional pain (such as mental illness) and physical pain (including assault or sexualized violence). Visibly displaying through text a history of surviving physical and psychological injury, a trigger warning (TW) is itself a Textual Weeping” (para. 13).

“Because trigger warnings point, unflinchingly, to pain and hurt, they position users as performing the wrong affect for the classroom, collective, or digital space; they defy the drive to be pleasant or decorous” (para. 41).

Notes: Christina B. Hanhardt, “Safe Space Out of Place”

Hanhardt, Christina B. (2016). Safe space out of place. QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking, 3(3), p. 121-125.

Summary:

Hanhardt traces a dominant narrative within safe space discourses that sees particular subjects as always vulnerable to violence, while reproducing spatially raced and classed hierarchies.

Keywords: Safe Space, Place, LGBTQ, Queer, Culture, History

Quotations:

“These ideas are not new to the response to Pulse, but have provided a long-standing common-sense basis for understanding GLBTQ people as subjects who are always vulnerable to violence and for whom designated spaces might provide protection” (122).

“These convictions are anchored in a deep history of exploitation and survival: GLBTQ people have forged counter-institutions in the context of social exclusion, targeted attacks, and material and ideological structures that install and reward gender and sexual inequality” (122).

“Increased assimilation for a small but dominant segment of GLBTQ people has led some to question the importance of GLBTQ-specific institutions in general” (123).

“As a safe space in need of protection, political responses often leaned on discrete if multiple motives, most of which revolved around the presumed interior life of the actual (or potential future) shooter and called for an expansion of state power. In this way, proposals for more gun control and increased anti-terrorism funding actually had much in common, and arguments that sought to emphasize the fact that the patrons were a majority people of color were still absorbed into a dominant framework of GLBTQ marginality and homophobic violence” (124).

“Of course, the use of the term “safe space” is often more about crafting headlines than making a precise argument, but the idea of safety-in-place is a durable one that, although rooted in real needs, is always bound up in the spatial production of racial and economic hierarchy” (124).

“Thus the effort to put “safe space” out of its familiar place—rhetorical and geographic—ultimately is not about what a single essay (in the mainstream media, or an academic journal) may or may not offer, but is made possible as part of a process—often messy and untidy—in which collective debating and planning might lead us not only to safety but to something or somewhere better that we have not yet known” (125).

Notes: Jill Eichhorn et al., “A Symposium on Feminist Experiences in the Composition Classroom”

Eichhorn, Jill, et al. “A Symposium on Feminist Experiences in the Composition Classroom.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 43, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, Ill, 1992.

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Keywords: Feminism, Feminist Rhetorics, Pedagogy, Critical Pedagogy, Safe

Quotations:

“As we explore the ways we have been named, inscribed, objectified, exoticized, silenced, and coopted by male-dominated discourses, we simaltaneously engage in the articulation, negotiation, and collective re-vision of our gendered, ravial and class locations” (298).

“One difference we explore, among a multiplicity of differences, is that feminist graduate students and faculty who teach composition we do not experience the same level of authority in the classroom as white male, middle-to-upper-class graduate students and faculty” (298).

“Taking up a feminist politics of location in the classroom, as Adrienne Rich observed, means taking differences seriously. It also means taking the responsibility to construct critical classroom spaces ‘where [we and our] students can come to see ambivalence and differences not as obstacles, but as the very richness of meaning-making and the hope of whatever justice we might work toward” (299).

“As feminist teachers of writing we want to question those pedagogical models which privilege only an atmosphere of safety or a completely maternal climate” (299).

“How can we teach for radical change if we don’t challenge our students’ androcentric readings of literary texts or their classist, sexist, racist, and homophobic discourses as they arise in journals, essays and class discussion?” (300).

“Can there truly be ‘safe space,’ in or out of the classroom? Should there be? Is there in our desire for a safe space also a refusal to recognize that our different locations—as men or women, as Anglos or people of color, as faculty or graduate students—are and have always been unequal?” (300).