It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
This week’s assignment – Why I love to blog
Categories: Week 1: July 9

Since wonderful SLP already reminded us what we are supposed to be doing with our blog post this week to prepare for our writing session tomorrow (yay) – I feel like diving right in. Well, not until I write a little to warm myself up a bit – I would like to take a moment to pause and reflect on my writing so far. Up to now, it has become clear that I am way too busy for my own good. I don’t know about you SLP since you also seem to have a lot of writing projects happening at once, but I feel like at the end of a very long and involved day with students (four days a week) I am completely drained! I don’t want to do anything at all. I tend to read what you write and then think about what I say but can’t actually get myself to comment on what you’ve written because I’m so tired. Then I put off my comments for a day or two before I come back and try to pull my thoughts together. This is totally on top of trying to figure out moving issues for a move that will be in less than a month at this point, supporting a partner on a stressful/difficult job search, finishing up editing and coordinating everything that needs to be done with my dissertation, working on a digital story that involves writing, managing media, and editing, and prepping for teaching two classes in the fall that start in about a month. Phew… I guess it’s no wonder that I’m absolutely exhausted and drained, but this of course is a project that I want and need to be involved in. Perhaps this will even end up in my why I love to blog entry – if I can’t move a mountain, at the end of the day I know I can at least bang out 267 words (currently my word count so far eek!) for a blog entry and it helps to calm and refocus me onto the task I need to do at hand. Is this what it is means to be an academic? I feel like I’m being pulled in so many directions and it’s difficult to manage at times, especially when I apparently lied to myself for the last 12 months when I said, “when you’re done with your dissertation you can take a break and relax and not be stressed anymore!”


Are these just excuses for major procrastination? I hope not, I wanted to work on this project all week, I just couldn’t make the time. Ok, now that’s out – I want to try to tackle our assignment at hand. First off, I love how much content SLP was able to generate in what seems like no time at all because of the organization of your blogs and the effort you’ve already put into writing about your methods and why you choose to blog. I tried not to read your post before writing mine so that we could merge them based on both of our interests (as opposed to me saying – “yeah me too!” to everyone of your points) although, let’s be real, I have read them and heard you present on them, but I wanted both of our voices to shine through in our article. **Spoiler: Mine is totally over the 300-350 word limit – um, like nearly 1000 words over uh oh! At least this means I definitely do NOT have writer’s block on writing about blogs and that we’ll both have plenty of info for narrowing down for our intros!**


My Blog/Blogging/Blogger Philosophy (New blog title potential? Teaching Blog Philosophies?? Blog Teaching Philosophies? Hmmm…)

My life is about stories. I tell stories, I retell important family stories that impart valuable knowledge of how I have been shaped by stories, I write stories, and I honestly feel I would not be who I am without these many stories. To me, blogs are but one of many ways that I share, collect, and disseminate these stories that mean so much to me. I love the idea of sending my thoughts and stories out into the cybersphere in hopes that someone might stumble across it and feel a connection somehow. This is true of both my personal blogging journey and my use of blogs in my feminist classrooms. Personally, I have used blogs for many reasons, 1) to counter what I see as a visible gap in diverse voices in the cooking blogosphere. I created La Kitchen Chicana July 1, 2009 (I just celebrated my one year anniversary and I didn’t even know it) to speak against the notion of rich, white, housewives as the only voices interested or uncritical accounts of cooking, food, and capitalist desires. Instead, my blog (LKC) purposefully blends storytelling with recipes and challenges the reader to think about the politics of food consumption and cultural appropriation while also carving out a niche for my own fluid identities of a femme, lesbian, Chicana with food histories from the Southwest (NM where I grew up) as well as the Midwest (KS where I was born and where my entire extended families reside, and MN where I have lived for the last 6 years). While I never wrote an official entry on the purpose of my blog my tag at the top reads, “This is a blog about my adventures as a Chicana in the Kitchen and how one incorporates their culture into their food no matter where they are. My Mama used to make us hot dogs in tortillas and that to me is the quintessential Chicana kitchen.” I created this blog as an outlet from what often felt like stiff academic rules and regulations involved in writing my dissertation which I (not so coincidentally) started writing in the beginning of August 2009.

This leads into my next use and need for blogs 2) as a necessary and valuable creative writing outlet. While the themes of LKC involve stories from my family, and new stories that I’ve written based on my experiences woven in with recipes and reflections on what I am cooking up in the kitchen, I find that blogs are absolutely necessary as creative writing outlets. This is especially true, as I learned, for women of color creative writers to gain access to a different readership and “publish” their writing beyond themselves. In June 2009, I along with a fabulous Black woman writer began co-facilitating a space for women of color to write and post their creative writing when we took over the reins of a blog Women of Color: Writing from another woman of color creative writer. You can read our philosophy here, but basically we wanted to create an online community for women of color to post their words and etch out a space of the blogosphere for ourselves. While I wouldn’t say this has been a entirely successful blog project, we do still have women posting poems and short stories, as well as plans for more writing prompts to get women to write. The vital aspect of this online space, for women to share their creative writing, lies in the original philosophy of the blog, which was (and remains) the idea that writing saves lives. What has been successful and is partly why I took the job of co-facilitating this online space is this sense of collaboration between women, and the unexpected magic that can emerge from such online collaborations.

This idea of working through difficult ideas or putting into practice the skills of analytical and critical thinking in a group form has really been the driving force to my pedagogical investment in using blogs in my classrooms. My last reason for loving blogs involves the following stories. 3) After playing around with other forms of online discussion (through course websites – like WebCT or Moodle) I found myself drawn to the simplicity of having students converse via blogging and for the potential of blogs to extend beyond the bounds of the classroom. In fact, I was teaching with blogs before I had my own blogs although, in my mind, I feel as though my personal blogs inform my love of course blogs (as opposed to the other way around which is the real story). In the fall of 2008 I created a blog for the students in my Chicana/o-Latina/o Gender and Sexuality Studies course offered through the Department of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota. Part of the draw for doing this was (and is?) my frustration with googling “Chicana + gender” or “Chicana and sexuality” and coming up with hardly anything content of scholarly interest. Imagine my excitement when googling “Chicana and gender” just today, and my course blog showed up as the ninth google item. I really wanted to create some sort of resource that served my students taking the course at the time, and served others who may be interested in the topics of Chicana gender and sexuality after the course ended. This is especially vital in the era of attacks on ethnic studies and women’s studies coursework/departments and with the dearth of books that actually are being published on Chicana gender and sexuality (to the point where this is a book project my advisor and another colleague of mine are invested in working on because there is not contemporary anthology that speaks to these issues for the college classroom.) To me, this epitomizes the power and potential of using blogs in the feminist classroom.

In a much different way I used a course blog in the Spring 2010 for the GWSS Senior Writing Seminar in which we used the blog to help us construct our writing exercises and as a place to reflect on the processes of writing. I have never had so many students tell me how much the loved the blog, as evidenced by their glowing remarks on how the blog a) helped them write what they once saw as inconceivably long 20-page senior papers; b) allowed them to continue to foster a community of writers with their peers who were going through the same research and writing pleasures and pains beyond their three hours a week they spent in the classroom; and c) provided a space for them to vent frustrations or speak of their accomplishments during the writing process. I found myself throughout the semester receiving compliments on the idea of using the blog to organize the course content (although I don’t think I can take full credit for that, I think this may have been a total SLP inspiration) as well as providing the url to other instructors who wanted to know how I broke down the huge writing project over the course of a semester. So, in conclusion, I love to blog because I believe it’s a valuable 21st century feminist tool on multiple levels, as a Chicana I am invested in creating avenues for the voices of women of color in cyberspace and other marginalized groups. I also love how they are vital to our continued efforts for fighting gender, race, sexuality, and class inequalities in whatever form blogs, bloggers, and blogging may take. I am all about the potential of transformative learning as a blogger, as an avid reader of blogs, and as someone who loves to bring the joys of blogging to my many communities and my wonderful students.

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