Teaching African Autobiography in a Western Classroom, Delphine Fongang
I am exploring the pedagogical implications of teaching African autobiography in a different cultural context. This research project is borne out of my experience teaching Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower, where I realized that certain aspects of the narrative might be obvious to the instructor but foreign to Western students. Students were exposed to traditional practices, postcolonial ideologies, and gender hierarchies that shaped African subjectivity. Employing pedagogical strategies such as debriefing, contextualizing, and questioning helped students to approach life writing with more understanding. Helping students read African autobiography from within specific cultural contexts allows them to critically respond to stories.
Dr. Delphine Fongang is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University. Her teaching and research interests include Postcolonial Literature/Theory, African Diaspora Studies, African Women’s Life Writing, and Feminist theory/pedagogy. She published a recent edited collection, The Postcolonial Subject in Transit. Borders, Migration and Subjectivity in Contemporary African Diaspora Literature.
Bringing Empathy Home: Teaching Indigenous Life Writing in Central Europe, Martina Horakova
Teaching Aboriginal life writing in Central Europe is a useful tool in raising inter-cultural awareness and sensitizing students to Australia’s role in dispossessing Indigenous populations. In their empathy with Indigenous people as an oppressed group, however, Czech students tend to perpetuate the trope of distanced suffering. I argue that teaching Indigenous life writing can be more effective if Indigeneity as a historical, theoretical, aesthetic concept is literally ‘brought home’ by relating the situation of Aboriginal people to parallel issues within the home cultur —in the case of Czech Republic it is the discriminatory and racist treatment of Roma minority.
Martina Horakova teaches in the English Department at the Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Her research interest include Indigenous literatures in Canada and Australia, life writing, and settler colonialism. She currently works on a project related to Australian memoirs of settler belonging.
Looking into the educational implications of I Live Here: Juarez (Vol.3), Olga Michael
This paper explores the educational implications of Juarez, the third volume of Mia Kirschner’s I Live Here (2008), a multi-generic, multi-modal ‘paper documentary,’ funded by Amnesty International and aiming to raise awareness about women and children’s suffering in Chechnya, Burma, Juarez and Malawi. Focusing on the book’s accounts of the Juarez femicides, this presentation discusses the potential risks and implications of teaching such material in the framework of Anglophone literature courses in Higher Education, in relation to the depiction of border-zone gendered crimes, and the limitations of Western humanitarian work and witnessing.
Olga Michael is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cyprus. Her current research focuses on novelistic representations of Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’ and on the ethics of representing the violation of the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Anglophone graphic life narratives.
Teaching Frederick Douglass’ Narrative as a Text for Change, Lynn Domina
Although I have taught Frederick Douglass’ Narrative in several courses, students have engaged most energetically with it in a developmental reading and writing course. One reason for this is that it meets the criteria for material in adult basic education; it is high
interest and addresses significant topics, but the language is accessible. There’s more going on, though, for Douglass illustrates how he succeeded against his society’s odds, and today’s marginalized students find his work inspiring. I will discuss how a 19th century slave narrative can serve as a model for students writing for social change.
Lynn Domina is Department Head and Professor of English at Northern Michigan University. She has written most recently on the Harlem Renaissance and Nella Larsen. She is currently editing a volume on Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching series.