Life Writing and Student Engagement after COVID-, Kate Douglas
In semester 2, 2020 there were 160 students enrolled in the second-year subject “Life Writing” at Flinders University, South Australia. A week before the commencement of classes, many things (including the mode of delivery) were still uncertain. This paper explores how my approach to teaching Life Writing changed in light of student feedback and my classroom experiences in semester 1–when COVID moved teaching online. I reflect on the revisions I made about text-choice, learning activities, and assessment. I argue that Life Writing, as a teaching area, seems uniquely placed to inspire student engagement in unpredictable times.
Kate Douglas is a Professor at Flinders University (Australia) and the co-convenor of the Flinders Life Narrative Research Group. Her most recent book is Research Methods for Auto/Biography Studies (with Ashley Barnwell). She heads the steering committee of IABA Asia-Pacific.
Pedagogies of Death and Dying: Teaching Thanatographies in the Pandemic, Eva Karpinski
This feminist killjoy explores some ethical and epistemological challenges of bringing to the classroom personal narratives of witnessing and/or experiencing death and dying. I consider how blog postings about COVID-19 by frontline healthcare workers and public intellectuals (Judith Butler, Arundhati Roy, Zadie Smith) can be received, especially given the constraints of online teaching. What are the gains and risks of attending to such traumatic accounts framed through necropolitics and necrocapitalism, revealing the unequal distribution of life and death? How to manage affects arising from the potentially triggering and/or healing impact of sharing such difficult knowledge? Can such teaching inspire activism?
Eva C. Karpinski teaches Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. A long-standing supporter of the IABA network, she is a dedicated scholar of life writing. She published Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation and, most recently, with Ricia Chansky, co-edited Life Writing Outside the Lines.
(Life) Writing to Belong: Ableism and Teaching Remotely During a Pandemic, Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle
In spite of the challenges, remote learning communities of the 2020 Covid19 pandemic allowed many faculty to teach from the literal spaces of their personal lives rather than from an impersonal, institutional space. Some received training and were taught to understand, accept, and support a variety of ways for people of all abilities to be present for teaching/learning. This presentation argues that the teaching of life writing can be as effective, if not more so, in raising awareness of ableism and more accommodating of people with conditions that are actually triggered by f2f teaching than any training in online teaching.
Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle is an Inter-Americanist whose specializations include autobiography of dictatorship, immigration memoir, and autoethnography. Her book, Américanas, Autocracy and Autobiographical Innovation: Overwriting the Dictator, is out with Routledge Press. Her current project is a monograph about academic women’s career narratives.