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An Uncommon Core: Feminist Pedagogy, Postcolonial Literature, and Transformative Literacy in Urban Education

Thursday Lecture Series

dateSeptember 22, 2016 timeThursday, 12:15pm–2:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, students, and invited guests
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].
Group of teenagers posing in front of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University

How can feminist pedagogy be leveraged to transform diversity-based literacy in urban educational settings? Both within and outside of the field of education, "diversity" is a fraught and contentious term. On the one hand, pushes towards diversity admirably aim to broaden the politics of representation in canonical curricula to include historically underrepresented authors. On the other hand, authors-- and students-- who count as "diverse" are inherently singled out as exceptions to an implicitly white, male, American, middle-class norm. How can we grapple with the need for diversity in our books and schools without continuing to subordinate "underrepresented" authors and "underserved" students as deviations from a hegemonic standard?

Public Humanities Fellow Nicole Gervasio will approach this debate based on her experience as founder of the Kaleidoscope Project, a diversity-based literacy project that she launched for New York City high school students this past summer. In this largely praxis-oriented discussion of feminist pedagogy, she will share insights she gleaned about "multicultural" approaches to teaching postcolonial literature to our city's heterogeneous student body. Seeing this project as part of a wave of diversity-based educational initiatives sweeping the city, she will also suggest recommendations to be made to the New York Department of Education's Common Core for language arts and practices that can be adapted to building community and openness through-- rather than in spite of-- differences in other humanities-based classrooms.