The professional journal for the college teacher-scholar
Volume 80, Number 6, July 2018
Composition has not developed language or practices for addressing what Thomas Newkirk has called the “underlife” of teaching, the sense of frustration and even demoralization that can sometimes trouble those who do classroom work. Though reflection would seem to be a natural response to these experiences, reflection has trained incapacities that limit its usefulness for navigating the underlife. This article addresses this problem by turning to the history and theory of written spiritual exercises as resources for managing the darker moments of the teaching life.
This article extends scholarship on rhetorics of gendering by articulating the need for methodologies of lived experience to unearth gender as lived in specific times and places. I derive one such approach from Kenneth Burke’s “recalcitrance” and explore its affordances and limitations through an analysis of the material-discursive construction of women’s work at Brook Farm, a nineteenth-century utopian community. Despite the community's innovations, recalcitrant archival documents reveal women’s confinement to housework—labor understood as invisible, unproductive, and menial. The essay offers a method for exploring the gap between our aspirations for gendered spaces and practices and the lived experience of gendered individuals.