A panel of three papers:
Virtual Students: Self-Disclosure of Identity in Online Classrooms through a Feminist Lens
Drawing from experiences as feminist teacher at both four-year universities and two-year community colleges in Washington State, this paper seeks to explore the implications of student disclosure – of identity and experiences – in the online classroom. Through my personal teaching experience and the teaching experiences of my fellow instructors, I have observed that students disclose aspects of their personal social identities and experiences which differ from that in the face-to-face classroom. These aspects range from the often less “observable” characteristics of social identity, such as, sexual orientation and religious affiliation to the often less spoken experiences of violence and victimization.
Identity and experience are complicated subjects in their own right; however, they are further complicated when discussed in the context of the virtual realm, in this case, online education. Implications of virtual identity have been widely discussed – from Second Life to Social Networking Sites and many things in between (Boellstorff, 2008; Foster, 2005; Wellman, 2012) -- but these conceptions are often discussed outside the context of the college classroom. This project builds on Judith Butler’s (1990) theory of social temporality in the construction and appearance of identity and Jane Gallop’s (2002) anecdotal theory which views the reflection of personal experiences as a potential site of knowledge production and theory making. However, I also recognize that disclosure does not come without risk and that there are power dynamics within the college classroom that must be acknowledged and negotiated. As such, it is important that the reflective practices, which often invoke self-disclosure by students, in online college classes be carefully constructed and negotiated in terms of pedagogic value.
For this paper I draw on an exploratory case study that considers the following questions: What, why and how do students share about themselves in the online environment versus the face-to-face classroom? What are the implications of these types of disclosure on the teaching and learning – both in online and face-to-face classroom environments? And, in addition, in what ways would a feminist approach to online learning be important and what might that look like?
This theoretical framework and research questions are the basis of this presentation which, as a result, falls within two themes for the 2015 HASTAC conference: technology and education, as well as technology and social identity and roles. However, given that my presentation is a part of my dissertational research which seeks in the end to articulate a theory of online feminist pedagogy, it seems most fitted to the technology and education theme.
The Abject is in Another Castle: Julia Kristeva, Gamer Theory, and the Normal Corpse
In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Julia Kristeva describes abjection as an other that cannot be accepted; the abject is “ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced” (1). However, while an abject self is ignored or suppressed, Kristeva theorized it possible to feel enjoyment within abjection and to revel in the part of the self which is rejected. The conformed subject can feel whole as they accept the ejected other cast out of normalcy. What is ejected varies between subjects, but correlations can be made between them by examining the rhetorics involved.
My project is to define what the abject is within gamespace, which refers to the overlap between the simulated realities within video games and the culture where they are played, produced, and discussed. Mackenzie Wark defines gamespace as a liminal space where these realities interact with and influence each other; it is the space surrounding gamers wherever they exist (15). Scott Reed’s interpretation of gamespace and gamer theory involves “jumping across the folds between gamer, game, and world.” My research seeks to explore abjection intersectionally across these folds.
The abject is used as an analytical lens in film, novels, and visual art to discuss horror and violence, but in order for something to be truly abject, the creative work must destabilize the norm and subvert standard practices of a genre. Film theorist Nick Mansfield places much value on the literal cadaver and its ability to evoke the abject within film; however, a corpse in scripted media is not the abject; it is the normal corpse: a rhetorical device. Kristeva’s abject is the unthinkable; and therefore, it cannot be scripted.
The abject is born out of the chora, the nexus in which all desires, fears, goals, and dreams intermingle before our conscious minds regulate where these ideas should (or should never) manifest. If the gamer is the subject, I posit that the abject is the corrupted file, the glitches, and the errors within the scripted normalcy of a game. These glitches are unplanned; but they are nevertheless experienced. My research is two-fold; using a narratological approach to transfer Kristeva’s theory into the digital space inhabited by video games, I compare the rhetorics of Kristeva’s theory and the destabilizing occurrences in gamespace to define the abject as the place in gaming which destabilizes hegemonic societal power in gamer culture.
Virtual Restoration: The Affordances of Digital Communication for Restorative Justice
How can virtual communication support conflict resolution? Such an inquiry is essential as more and more social contact occurs through digital media, at the same time face-to-face engagement becomes increasingly impractical due to geographic and temporal constraints. This talk explores the potential of virtual communication as part of an effective intermodal approach to conflict resolution. It engages conference themes of technology and social identity, community development, and technology and education.
As compared to retributive approaches, restorative justice (RJ) practices result in higher participant satisfaction, compliance, and recidivism, as well as decreased program cost. In light of this, RJ is gaining popularity in both school and civic settings. Because RJ practices most commonly occur as small group activities, small group communication theory has many resources with which to investigate how virtual communication can enhance or undermine restorative justice practices.
While small group communication theorists have found virtual communication techniques to be less effective than face-to-face interactions when addressing conflict, and while RJ practices have generally taken place almost exclusively in person, the affordances of virtual communication have much to offer a mediated conflict environment. For example, we can: draw upon theories of media-richness and social presence to convey relevant content but reduce incongruous messaging; incorporate the benefits of electronic brainstorming to enhance outcomes; and leverage the capacity of virtual communication to de-emphasize status differences to enhance engagement.
As restorative justice practices gain purchase in schools and communities, the development of digital/in-person hybrid methodologies may not only meet the necessary need to extend its application beyond traditional in-person formats, but also enhance its effectiveness.