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Evaluations of Timidity and Bravery

Gavi's picture

When I look back at this course over the span of the semester, I view the Gen/Sex class not as a linear progression and building of thought, but as a diffused and (of course) diffracted set of ideas that have significantly shifted the ways in which I see and interact with the world. Even during this finals week, I was struck by the influence PPPPP has had on my writing and my work; as I studied for my History of Western Civilization final, for instance, I increasingly saw the words “entangled” and “diffraction” in my notes. I view history and literature (my two academic fields) differently, as well as the implications and potentials of my inter-personal relationships.

However diffused of an influence the theory in this course has had on me, I can still track my linear, temporal progress through my web postings. In my first posting, I wrote that one of the activities we had conducted the week prior “forced me to consider my position both in the classroom and outside of it, as a student and as an activist.” I was frustrated by the disconnect between my behavior inside and outside class, and the standards to which I was being held in both areas. I had hope that these different lives of mine could converge; I wrote that “I realize that I will be a better student and a better activist when I can synthesize critical thinking and unconstrained action. So hopefully, my visions for the future will (in the future) be a lot less timid.”

I think this lens of academic bravery/timidity is a useful one for me through which to diffract different aspects of this class. And therefore:

  • Classroom discussion and group work: while I definitely engaged more with the class as the semester progressed, and while I felt a increasing camaraderie with my classmates, I still often held back from speaking and was not as involved with class discussions as I wish I had been. I like to formulate my thoughts slowly, through writing rather than through spoken word, and I often wished that in our fast-paced, topsy-turvy-theory class, I had more time to mull over newly introduced ideas. In this respect, I feel almost as academically timid as I did when I began this course. However, I feel like I was attentive and active in the smaller group discussions, and an active participant in our online community.
  • Readings: While I enjoyed the readings, I was not (for the weekly classes) as bravely engaged with them as I was with other courses of mine this semester. I think the lack of truly brave engagement of them for class was reflective of my timid participatory efforts. I would often, however, return to the readings directly after class, and always before posting online. Some readings that expanded my cosmology in fairly brave degrees include Price’s “Mad at School,” Barad’s “Quantum Entanglements,” and Sharon Welch’s “The Ethic of Control.”
  • Writings: The area in which I really felt like I pushed against academic timidity was in my writing for this class. The writings—both the weekly postings and the web events—required that I return to the texts and conversations (both online and in the non-digital world) of the course and critically think about my relationship with the both of them. Each of my web events required very different lines of thinking and engagement with research-- I’m grateful to have explored so many topics of interest, some of which I never knew I had. Though I am by and large proud of my essays for this class, I feel somewhat as though they’re reductive works, products of a lot of research that distilled itself fairly succinctly in web-form. It was also definitely interesting, and not always comfortable/comforting, to experience my writings in the context of my classmates’ writings. I am more comfortable now with other people reading my work, and especially open to the idea of academic work as something to be revisited, expanded upon, never at rest or enough or operating in isolation.

I want to continue exploring the boundaries of academic and activist bravery. My last web event combines these two lines of inquiry, and I hope to sustain the questions I’ve started asking through this course by following through on my activist-academic workshop. I especially want to keep expanding my academic life outward, across disciplines and interests and across the hurdles of timidity. I want to continue the work I've begun in this class, and develop the "I" in my academic and personal voices.