Alternative Discourses and the Role of Subjectivities in the Global Classroom

By John Kerr.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The role that higher education is expected to play in preparing college students to meet the demands placed upon them in an increasingly complex global society, has come under careful scrutiny by academics in the United States. Although academics acknowledge the importance of addressing the diverse cultural/social histories that many of these students possess as they arrive to the academy, reading and writing instruction on college campuses have remained deeply rooted in a tradition steeped in an ideology of cultural reproduction where literacy instruction is advanced with the goal of reproducing the beliefs, the values and the assumptions of the dominant culture.
Academic writing has traditionally served the purpose of socially conditioning students to adopt a world view that will promote a “modern consciousness,” where rationality, logic, and objectivity have become the criteria that has defined academic writing as a monolithic set of rules and conventions. As teachers begin to examine the shifting needs that literacy serves in a democratic society, it will be necessary for them to re-evaluate the purpose that academic writing should serve. Such an evaluation must expose the need for reading/writing activities that will enable students with literacy abilities that will promote a “critical consciousness” where students will become critically engaged as real writers, and the writing classroom will become recognized as a public site of conflict and struggle. This paper draws upon critical theory to argue for a post-process writing pedagogy that will foreground the social/cultural/political histories that students bring with them to the writing classroom. Under such conditions, the global writing classroom offers student writers the conditions for them to locate voices that will allow them to critically examine subjectivities as they assume the agency necessary for them to investigate how the relationship that exists between power and knowledge comes together to shape identities and desires.

Keywords: Critical Theory, Critical Literacy, Critical Pedagogy

Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.83-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 546.994KB).

Dr. John Kerr

Associate Professor, Humanities Department, Division of Liberal Arts and Sciences, State Universtity of New York at Cobleskill, Richmondville, New York, USA

I have spent my career teaching, researching and writing about issues related to literacy. I have served most of my career as a professor in the Humanities Dept. at the State University of New York, where I have taught courses in basic writing/reading, composition and American literature. My work as a writer has emphasized the critical need for a contribution to the knowledge necessary to gain a better and a more complex understanding of the literacy struggles of students from diverse cultural/social backgrounds from the perspective of a teacher/researcher, where the gap between theory and practice may most effectively be bridged.

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