MLA: Teaching Lives, Students as Feminist Producers

“Students as Feminist Cultural Producers: Archives and Repertoires of Knowledge”

Affiliated Faculty, PH.D. in Culture and Theory

Our teaching lives, our work as feminist teacher/scholars, often takes place in a series of different communities and institutions and these local experiences of politics and culture are interwined and shaped in concert with global events and processes of globalization. Teaching within Women’s Studies departments, institutional sites of critical interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, which have forged frameworks such as “feminist transnational studies,” such connections are explicitly at the forefront of our daily teaching and scholarly lives. We work to produce feminist frameworks that seek to address how specific objects of analysis and specific modes of subjectivity come into being through contingent links between knowledge and power.

In my research and teaching, I focus on performance, visual, and popular culture as modes of knowledge production and critique. I seek to have students examine and interpret situated visual cultural practices in the past and their own contemporary experiences as consumers and producers of culture. Among the key theoretical concepts that have proved most useful in the classroom to forge this linked historical and contemporary analysis are 1) “haunting” 2) “subjugated knowledges” 3) “archives and repertoires” and 4) “nostalgic grotesque”. Pedagogically, I have used “silence” as a perhaps unexpectedly useful tool for having students examine contingent links between knowledge and power and to critically reflect on and in moments of “contentious politics.”

My own research and teaching focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to feminist visual culture and performance; trans-Atlantic modernism; and theories of race, gender, and sexuality. I examine how subjects produce complexity within the limits of historical spectacularization and commodification of the racialized body. The cases I examine, including early twentieth century popular stage performers such as Aida Overton Walker and the iconic Josephine Baker, speak to the complexity of women-of-color cultural producers’ responses to the representational practices of “primitivism” and “Orientalism” and to prevailing notions of “modernity.” This early twentieth century moment informs my thinking as a scholar/teacher about the meaning of 21st century racialized and spectacular cultural practices and our inheritance of racist reception practices. I am especially interested in the collusion and circulation of Jim Crow and Colonial discourses. I encourage students to examine how their own experience has been informed by what Cedric Robinson would call “forgeries of memory.”
Jeanne Scheper, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies
Undergraduate Director, Women’s Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Culture and Theory

University of California, Irvine
3216 Humanities Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697-2655

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