Saturday, October 25, 2008

Controversia: Tex[t]-Mex

Is There a Tex[t]-Mex Pedagogy?
I hardly think it's possible to speak about Bill "Memo" Nericcio without stealing some of the artwork from his website to give my humble blog some sabor.

I not only enjoyed Nericcio's book, but I took it a step further & wrote a review that I'm sure I'll add at a later date. Right now, I'm still hot on the trail of a tride, true & tested Latino pedagogy. For all of the Chicano Arellano dispenses, he was wise enough to refer me to Nericcio because education isn't his forte.

Writing from deep in the borderlands, I communicated with Nericcio visavi e-mail, to which Nericcio was more than generous with his response. Without further adieu, Nericcio's pedagogical perspective:

CM: My name is Cruz Medina, a first year PhD student at the University of Arizona. A
few months back, I spoke with Gustavo Arellano at one of his readings, and he recommended *Tex[t]-Mex* to me when I told him that I was going to begin earning my PhD in Rhet/Comp. I'm actually writing though because I had a few pedagogical questions that I hoped to hear your perspective on because of your experience as a Mexican-American having taught in different English departments.

Dr. William Nericcio: i am honored!

CM: In the field of English, where teaching writing can go along with the teaching of close reading practices, is there a way to apply a pedagogical Latino lens that may be critical of canonical texts while avoiding the controversy of teetering into cultural studies that some departments try to distance themselves from?

WN:yes, it can be done--look at my "mainstream" intro
to lit class i am teaching... it feature 6 or 7 chicano texts,
but by stressing the theme of NAKEDICITY, i sidestep
the whole canon issue..... but we are doing cultural studies,
i have to confess.... you could do my same class and kill
the movies and artbooks i imagine.....

look at some of my other classes here:
babel, worked as well.... american lit survey with healthy dose of latino magic

CM: Is there an alternative pedagogical standpoint that you have taken which allows
you to teach subversive/controversial/critical material to audiences of predominantly Caucasian students who may be resistant?

WN:stress psychoanalysis and sexuality.... throw in canonical with raza, have fun.... it seems to work for me....

CM: Is there a simple answer? like humor??

WN: yes! humor works! comedy..... always a better way to go than righteousness!

CM: Or is the answer a much less static stance that maintains some fluidity that allows for greater adaptation?

WN: call to chat sometime... the number's below....

As you can see, I have some websites to check out. But I do feel a bit more grounded. With an
undergraduate degree in German, I have to admit that psychoanalysis comes as something of a second nature & sexuality provides an approach to notions of identity that arise in 'raza' texts. I'm planning on teaching the film Amores Perros in my next unit & there's a noteworthy relationship forged between the subaltern hero & the homosexual head of an underground
dog-fighting circuit. The film takes place in 'DF,' Mexico City, where machismo and the staggering economic divide position both characters as 'others.'

Nericcio suggests Babel, which is the most recent film by the same director of Amores Perros, which makes me feel like I'm on the right path. Babel deals with more obvious issues of disconnectedness of language, save for the humanistic bond between people, in addition to excellent issues of border politics.

More to report after I check out Nericcio's sites...

Update 27 Oct: What Nericcio refers to as Babel is the overarching theme that he uses to teach a lit course with an amazing mix of Kerouac, Cisnero & other influential writers.

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