How We Wrote It

In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (2015 [1984]), bell hooks affirms the need to define feminist struggle in “political terms that stress collective as well as individual experience” (27). This vision of feminism acknowledges the amplitude of our movement and the diversity of its goals. If a group identity offers strength in numbers, it also erases the valuable differences we all bring to feminist movement. If each of us can create our own brand of feminism, it muddies the shared nature of oppression. Put another way, we must see both the forest and the trees within it, for our struggle engages challenges both unique and shared. With this in mind, feminism values collaboration and personal experience, which should be evident in the teaching methods laid out in the guide.

In the process of writing, we turned to bell hooks—and this particular quotation—in order to approach our task. Ben and Nancy reached out to graduate student instructors at Vanderbilt University who had expressed interest in feminist teaching, either through participation in a feminist pedagogy course or radical pedagogies work at the Center for Teaching. Using Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s theory of “backward design,” they laid out the sections and subsections according to the desired outcomes of the guide.

From front left: Kristen, Allison, Sherry, Ben, Lis, Raquelle, and Kirsten. Nancy's seat is empty while she snaps this photo. (Click the photo to learn about us.)

On February 12, 2015, the eight authors of the guide came together in the Center for Teaching for what became known as the “Feminist Pedagogy Write-a-Thon.” For four hours, we heeded the charge of hooks’ quote: we worked individually and collectively to research, compose, and edit this guide to feminist pedagogy. What transpired there was a powerful manifestation of solidarity and a teaching and learning moment in its own right. We brought together theory and praxis, form and content that day.

The guide you see now underwent further revisions for consistency, clarity, and formatting. However, the product differs remarkably little from the original.

About the Authors →