Friends, yes, in a time of global pandemic, teaching must go on. I am glad we are moving online; social distancing, remote working and learning are ways of containing and mitigating infection, and therefore not overwhelming the healthcare system. This makes well-grounded sense.
So, Pinay Lit is going online. I am also glad for this, because the times I have taught Pinay Lit online, my usually shy students find it within themselves to participate. There are few things more difficult for me that seeing wide-eyed students inhabiting fluorescent-lit lecture halls, where if there was ever wonder for Pinay Lit in the first place, it has been supplanted by the culture of intimidating institutional structures, no matter how I ply for response.
Online, they are chatty, generous with answers and opinions. I do start by giving them questions in advance, things to think about before entering a text and a discussion of a text.
My first online class takes place next week as we return from spring break. We are reading Amanda Reavey’s Marilyn. Before spring break, I drew them a nifty little picture/diagram on the board in an effort to describe ethnoautobiography. This is the mode in which Reavey has written, such an appealing and disciplined approach to writing about the self. Writing, discovering, rediscovering, excavating, revealing the complex, multilayered self who is able to tell their own story, not dependent upon, unlearning the oppression of given, oversimplified, colonial definitions of that self.
What I’ve drawn in the image I include here is from last semester, and is from Jurgen Werner Kremer and Robert Jackson-Paton, Ethnoautobiography. Perhaps it’s a little touchy-feely for you. I think it’s helpful, because as an author and educator, I think we intuitively, creatively, and academically hit some of these points, but not all, not totally, not deeply enough. We shall see how discussion goes next week. And perhaps as they progress in the semester (who knows how long we will be holding classes online), they will make the connections to Lynda Barry’s autobifictionalography. Why these nifty “new” words, except that perhaps there weren’t existing words to fully describe what these authors and artists and educators aim to do.
A few years ago, I taught a Pinay Lit and Writing online class via PAWA. I used Google Chat, and a private WordPress.com blog. Funny thing is, a good number of Pinxys signed up, paid their registration, and then never showed up to Google Chat, and never left any drafts, posts, comments, anything on the WordPress blog. I think they might have just been interested in the curriculum, for their own independent reading and writing. That’s a lot of money to pay for a few PDFs and writing prompts. Then again, maybe not; maybe they just weren’t ready for feedback (peer or instructor) on whatever they found themselves compelled to draft. I get this, and then it’s unfair for the active participants to be pouring their hearts out while others silently lurk.
So the Google Chat sessions were small; we’d talk very informally about what we’d read, what we were thinking as a result of our reading. Then there would be questions about my feedback on their drafts. One complaint, if I may, that I had was that some participants were turning in work (posting on WordPress) that was not just already written, but possibly also already workshopped elsewhere. Perhaps they did this in the interest of time, but also, maybe more importantly, wanted specifically Pinxy feedback.
Some of the pieces I had them read were re: domesticity and domestic work, about hiya, monstrosity (aswangs, and I couldn’t resist; I had to include Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of Medusa”), hybridity, being/presenting as Pinxy in virtual space(s), et al. For example, Sweetie (below) made her presence known:
Well, I think I will be doing this again, probably as the semester comes to an end and free time opens up for me. The first time I taught Pinay Lit online for community, I was unaccustomed to all the tools, unable to wield them as smoothly as I would have liked, so as not to get in the way of instruction and discussion. Today, I have much more experience with these tools, with larger groups — education, for sure, is catching up; I’d just viewed a two-hour online teaching tools video which was good in covering the basics of the basics. But also, in my full time work capacity, we are also accustomed to meeting and discussing very important topics virtually.
Also, I have become a better creative writing teacher and just a more experienced educator in general, who has come to know and love the potential for collaborative, dynamic learning and discussion in online learning forums. I love that both synchronous and asynchronous learning occur; each participant at their own pace, and in response to one another.
In community, participants come from everywhere. They’re moms, nurses, workers, students — some just starting out, some pondering or completing MFAs, some in so many other different fields — they represent different ages and life experiences and geographies. This also makes the learning space rich. And yes, Pinxy-specific and Pinxy-centric. This is rare and precious. And yeah, I’m gonna do it. Be on the lookout for more info!