Marlen and JYU students to present at American University, DC conference

Dr. Harrison and JYU students Diana Raitala and Tanja Räsänen will participate in the 19th Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference at American University, Washington, DC on February 10th, 2012.

This third year of a session chaired by Dr. Harrison – Identity and Voice: Locating the Lavender in Composition and Rhetoric Studies – will include presenters from Asia, Europe and North America. See below for descriptions of the session and abstracts for presenters.

This session celebrates its third year at LL and will include presentations that examine aspects of the writing, re-writing, teaching writing, storytelling, and even performance processes through a lens that considers the significance of queer identities and voices. For example, in her essay “Who Am I?: Finding Identity & Voice in Composition”, author Beverly Faryna explores her struggle as a student writer in search of her authentic voice: Considering the session topic, what is an authentic expression of queer voice? In what ways do queer voices emerge from, are substantiated by, or are perhaps absent from composition and rhetoric as disciplines or from the writing itself? How is queer sexuality read? What has been the significance of composition when considering the evolution of queer identity and vice versa? In short, this session asks “What’s queer about composition and rhetoric?” Past presentations have included a rhetorical analysis of Finnish university students’ attitudes toward gay and lesbian parenting rights, using autoethnographic writing in participatory action research examining the crossroads of language and sexuality in Japan, and examples of “queering” the American composition classroom.

1) Marlen Harrison (University of Jyväskylä)

The Closet in the Classroom: Constructing Queer Teacher Identities in Second Language Teaching

Perhaps before non-heterosexual or queer identities can be incorporated into the larger corpus of TESOL teaching materials and practices, these identities need to first be positioned as “issues”, evident of an initial stage (or starting point) where they are included in the curriculum along with controversial or special topics. Subsequently, the field will be in a position to progress to a stage of inclusivity (evidenced by the presence of these identities in a variety of teaching texts and practices, not merely as taboo issues). Awareness of these identities by the TESOL community as valid and commensurate in importance with issues of race, class, gender, etc is a starting point to moving beyond the positioning of queer identities as simply an “issue”. This is a risky position however, due to not only the hegemony of heterosexism or heteronormativity prevalent in the field, but also because queer identity is not yet universally accepted due to political, religious, cultural, or moral ramifications. Through a review of the literature and personal narrative, this paper explores the attempts by researchers and educators to address queer identity in the ESL/EFL classroom and offers recommendations for both a re-positioning of such identities as “non-issues” and suggestions for further study.


2) Richard Martin (Princeton University)

On Normative Originality: Academic Writing after Anti-Oedipus

One might think of university writing and research as an invitation to originality: students, for the first time, adopt critical stances toward the authority of other scholars, marking their coming-of-age as thinkers, no longer expected to be deferent to their sources.  Yet, their original arguments might be read less as an invitation than as the result of an imperative: one must, in classic Oedipal fashion, take down – however subtly – the ideas of others in order to establish oneself.   According to this vision, what is one’s “own” is predicated on the proprietary and psychoanalytic logics of (hetero)normative differentiation.  In this paper, I ask: how might one – as teacher and scholar – avoid the potential pitfalls of the paradox of compulsory originality?  Bringing Deleuze and Guattari’s critique (along with other queer theoretical insights) into conversation with my ethnographic research on Berlin’s BDSM Scene and classroom experience teaching freshman composition, I examine, anthropologically, approaches toward strategic source use, pursuing possibilities of imagining the production of scholarly knowledge and academic originality other than in Oedipal and individualist terms.


3) Diana Raitala & Tanja Rasanen (University of Jyväskylä)

Queering ESL Writing: Auto-ethnography as path to self- and language awareness

This presentation examines the experience of two women in psychology and ethnology programs at a university in central Finland. Having pursued autoethnographic research projects examining the lived experiences of marginalized female sexualities and identities as responses to an ESL writing curriculum, the presenters adopt a queer theoretical lens and discuss how such an approach provides opportunities for not only 2nd language writing awareness, but critical consciousness development as well.


4) Karen Hewell (Arizona StateUniversity)

Sociocultural influences on language for youth:  The rhetoric of queer identity Formation

While working on a volunteer basis with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) and other youth outreach programs in a southwestern American city, I have become concerned with the sociocultural influences on the language used with our young clients.  A large portion of what I do is educate youth, educators, and allies on aspects of LGBTQ culture and political and social needs.  Thus, a good amount of attention is paid to language associated with queer identities–in my opinion, often at the expense of those we are trying to benefit. This presentation will present examples from this context and make recommendations to both re-consider and transform the rhetoric and communication (specifically that of “labels” in queer identity formation) in such spaces in order to better meet the needs of queer youth.


5) Robert Ó’Móchain (Osaka University)

Self-Referencing Identities: Group Oriented Text Messaging by LGBT Japanese Youth

This presentation reports on a study that explores naming practices and script variation among young Japanese. The researchers analysed text messages from the organizers of an LGBT circle in a university in Western Japan. Over 120 mailing list messages were studied to record naming practices. These messages were also analysed for script variation in the recording of names and in the ornamental usage of “cute” script or “kao moji.” These features are of interest because some researchers (e.g., Kōra, 1997; Frank, 2002; Yamane, 1990) have argued that there are interesting gender correlations involved, such as the association of hiragana script with women, the use of “kanji” characters among men in Japanese society, the preference for katakana script among Japanese women who identify as lesbian, and the predominant use of “cute” script among young women. A survey was conducted of over one-hundred and sixty students who belong to other clubs and circles in the same university. Similar information was obtained regarding text messaging of club/circle members and what naming practices or script variation applies. A comparison was made between these sources and the text messages of the LGBT circle. These data raise some interesting questions about the validity of previous research on naming practices and script variation in Japanese language texts in relation to gender and sexuality issues. They also provide indicators of how young LGBT people in Japan handle tensions between multiple identities in terms of familial, regional, cultural, gendered, and sexuality affiliations.


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