Computers and Composition 14(2), 1997


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Out of the Closet and Into the Network:
Sexual Orientation and the Computerized Classroom

JONATHAN ALEXANDER

University of Southern Colorado

I am grateful to my colleague, Margaret Barber, for the fruitful conversations we have had about teaching gender issues in the networked classroom.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to Jonathan Alexander, Department of English and Foreign Languages, University of Southern Colorado, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, CO 81001. E-mail: alexand@meteor.uscolo.edu


ABSTRACT

This essay examines ways that issues of sexual orientation can successfully be taught in the computer-assisted composition classroom. Beginning with Michel Foucault's understanding that sexuality in our culture is configured as identity, the essay asks how both gay and straight students can benefit from online and networked discussions of sexual orientation. Benefits for gay students can be tremendous, as they are allowed voice (even if that voice is mediated through pseudonymous participation), but straight students will often wonder at the relevancy of issues of sexual orientation for their own lives, preferring instead to think of homosexuality as something strange and alien and, thus, failing to realize the social implications of their heterosexuality as well as the social nature of all sexual orientation. In thinking about how to explore such issues safely and effectively, the writer suggests that computerized learning spaces offer possibilities for open discussion not available in conventional classrooms. Internet, the World Wide Web, and synchronous conferencing software, staple features of many networked classrooms, provide powerful tools through which students can probe the relevance of sexual orientation to all students' lives, whether lesbian, bisexual, gay, or straight.


gay teachers
heterosexuality
homosexuality
identity
networked classroom
pedagogy
sexual orientation
sexuality
social construction
synchronous conferencing

When I began teaching composition at the University of Southern Colorado in 1994, the state was embroiled in controversy over Amendment Two. The amendment to the Colorado state constitution, which was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in May 1996 would have deprived gays, lesbians, and bisexuals of the right to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment disputes. The topic, continuously reported by all the state's media forces, was on the minds of many of my students, and I had only to say the words "Amendment Two" to plunge the class into a maelstrom of heated debate. In many ways, this was a composition teacher's dream; especially in my rhetoric and argumentation classes, we never failed to come up with some aspect of the debate worth analyzing for rhetorical consistency, logical clarity, consideration of audience, emotional appeal, and "objective" reporting of opposing viewpoints. Although the furor over the amendment has passed, issues surrounding sexual orientation remain "hot" topics in composition classrooms, and they are likely to remain so for some time as they are debated at the national level; one need only say "gay marriage" or "gays in the military" to polarize a classroom and inaugurate debate.

In addition to its contemporary socio-political relevance and its ability to excite class discussion, sexual orientation is a subject that engages many students' interest at more personal levels. After all, we live in a culture in which, as Michel Foucault pointed out, sexuality is configured as identity--so much so that the probing of one's sexual orientation is supposed to unlock the hidden "truth" about oneself. Joseph Litvak (1995), an openly gay professor and queer theorist, described the social significance of what has traditionally been thought of as private. "It was becoming clear to me," he said, that

acquiring cultural literacy--as one is supposed to do in school--meant, to no small degree acquiring sexual literacy, not learning how to exclude the private from the public but learning how to read the private as it is everywhere obliged to manifest itself in public. (p. 20)

But, as most teachers who have introduced or entertained the issue of homosexuality in their classrooms know, the polarization and often contentious debate that results from discussion of sexual orientation is not unproblematic. Dealing with material so close to the core of the way we think about ourselves can produce tension-filled exchanges laden with the possibility of misunderstanding and danger, especially for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students (and teachers who may justifiably fear being outed, or at least completely misconstrued, during open discussions of homosexuality). Furthermore, straight students will often wonder at the relevancy of issues of sexual orientation for their own lives, preferring instead to think of homosexuality as something completely other, something strange and alien and, thus, fail to realize the social implications of their heterosexuality as well as the social nature of all sexual orientation. The search for sophisticated pedagogical methods of grappling with this subject continues in work such as Harriet Malinowitz's (1995) Textual Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Students and the Making of Discourse Communities. Related work should particularly hold the attention of compositionists, as our classes offer some of our students the most concentrated analysis of how the social medium of language shapes our conception of our selves and determines our social interactions. Thus, considering the cultural weight given to sexuality, composition classes are excellent forums for discussion of the ways in which talking and writing about sexual orientation is tantamount to talking and writing about our selves. This is not an easy discussion, however; it requires finesse and care.

Such discussions can nonetheless be successfully facilitated in computerized classrooms, and my contention for the remainder of this essay is that networked classrooms offer an unparalleled opportunity for students and teachers to address issues of sexual orientation in powerful and unprecedented ways. The Internet, the World Wide Web, and software that permits synchronous conferencing--staple features of many networked classrooms--provide tools through which students can learn more about these issues and probe the relevance of sexual orientation to all students' lives, whether they are lesbian, bisexual, gay, or straight.

One of the most obvious advantages of dealing with sexual orientation in the computerized classroom is the tremendous amount of information available to any student interested in pursuing research on homosexuality. The amount of information currently circulating through various computer networks is stunning, and quick Net searches will deluge the interested "surfer" with a variety of sources and viewpoints. But particularly for the young homosexual student, the advantages of Internet access are undeniable; traditionally marginalized gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals can find information, voice, and community, allowing them to create bonds with others to reinforce their gay subject position and contribute to each others' sense of identity through communal support and understanding.

Furthermore, networked discussion that allows for the use of pseudonyms or anonymous contributions can play a particularly important role in helping homosexual students safely explore the possibility of speaking as gays and lesbians. This opportunity is crucially important because the dangers of speaking from a gay subject position are very real. Judith Butler has pointed out how each of us "performs" various subject positions, as well as the ways in which those subject positions involve performances that are potentially risky. Use of the term "performativity" should not mislead anyone into thinking that our subject positions are always chosen; as Butler (1993) maintained, "These are for the most part compulsory performances, ones which none of us choose, but which each of us is forced to negotiate" (p. 237). This is especially true for gay students who, although they may have the opportunity to "cloak" their homosexuality, are nonetheless caught in the midst of various forces that, on one hand, ask them to be honest about themselves, and on the other, disapprove of what they have to reveal. Negotiating this position is fraught with danger because individuals may make statements that open them to the possibility of physical attack or identity crisis, as their subject position is questioned for social and cultural legitimacy. Additionally, students--or teachers for that matter--who identify as gay or lesbian may become targets of a wide array of attacks, from physical and verbal violence to damaging insinuations about credibility and ethicality.

As an openly gay teacher, I know from experience the potential dangers and pedagogical pitfalls of addressing issues of sexual orientation in my classes. Just this past week, one of my rhetoric students accused me of "promoting homosexuality" because I had the class read articles about homosexuality but did not also direct the class to read anti-gay propaganda. The whole notion of "promoting homosexuality," in the student's phrase, is laden with the homophobic fear of gays "recruiting" straights, a fear exacerbated in this case because my students know that I am gay. For teachers who are closeted, dealing with such issues may be discomfiting because such teachers open themselves to the possibility of being outed or accused of biased interest in having the discussion in the first place.

Perhaps more dramatic are the dangers confronting our gay and lesbian students, for whom peer pressure and approval are forces still powerfully shaping their lives. Many are coming to an awareness of their tenuous social positions, and they rightfully fear the vulnerability of coming out. For these students, my presence as openly gay is both helpful and potentially harmful. On one hand, they appreciate my presence and often come to me for advice and consultation; on the other hand, I am threatening to them because the wrong word or any sign of special in-group treatment might out them to their peers, who, like them, are often just coming to an awareness of the public space they occupy and who often use difference, especially sexual difference, to gain a clearer, more definitive, and sometimes harsher and more exclusionary sense of their own identities.

None of this is to suggest that issues of sexual orientation should be avoided in class discussion, particularly in rhetoric and composition classes. It is to suggest, however, that such discussion is potentially fraught with peril, but it is at exactly this perilous point that computerized classrooms offer the possibility of discussions of homosexuality that will (a) allow gays and lesbians the opportunity to speak and (b) allow them the opportunity to speak safely. Most theorists and educators are quick to acknowledge that computerized learning spaces both increase levels of student participation and allow traditionally marginalized voices and personal histories to find a voice in forums, such as the classroom, that have not always been welcoming or tolerant of polyvocal questioning of traditional norms. By 1994, Ann Hill Duin and Craig Hansen (1994), on the basis of their observation and analysis of actual classroom practices, could echo an oft-heard sentiment: "The [networked] system improved accessibility--that is, it appeared to liberate minorities, to restore voices to all students regardless of their sex, race, class, or age. Students who might be dominated by others in a traditional class discussion expressed their views openly via the [networked] system" (p. 100). This is true not just for students from traditionally marginalized sexual, racial, class, or age groups, but for the homosexual student as well--particularly if the student is allowed to contribute anonymously or under a pseudonym.

Indeed, pseudonymous participation ensures that the widest variety of voices will be able to speak in a public forum. Furthermore, the use of pseudonyms allows curious students to perform subject positions different from the ones they deploy and are subject to outside the classroom. As with gender-hiding exercises, for instance, it is important that a student be allowed to experience a different subject position initiated by choosing a pseudonym, and participate without censure or the threat of retribution. Especially in discussions of sexual orientation, which many students on small campuses find threatening, it is important to allow students to feel that they can contribute without the fear that people will make assumptions about them based on their comments or interests. Face to face discussions do not always allow for the kinds of "safety" measures, such as pseudonymous contributions, that are required to generate discussion on the sensitive topics of sexual orientation and homosexuality. This is one reason why networked discussions are vital: They offer the opportunity of increased participation from students, especially those who might not take part in oral discussions.

Although the advantages to gay and lesbian students are clear, it is important to keep in mind that they are not the only ones who can benefit from grappling with sexual orientation issues in computerized classrooms. Networked discussions of sexual orientation allow all students the opportunity to question and understand the social constructedness of all sexual orientations. In other words, students can begin to understand that sexual orientation is not just something that "happens" to gays and lesbians, but is the complex intersection of a variety of social and personal forces that come together and shape how all of us--gay and straight--think of ourselves and our sexual identities. In a cultural climate that encourages the policy of "don't ask, don't tell," it is easy for students to see how gay lives are heavily inflected with and impacted by societal norms and pressures; it is less obvious to them that straight lives, largely condoned and, thus, naturalized by society, are also part of a complex interweaving of social pressures and forces. It is just where we think our personal lives are most natural and untouched by outside forces that we are most blind to the ways in which our society has conditioned us to think about ourselves and understand our identities. This is particularly true of sexual orientation, which most students, indeed most people, understand as innate and inherent--and, thus, fail to see the ways in which society actively contributes to and constructs meaning for various sexual feelings and practices, condoning and regulating some while completely proscribing others. As social historian Jeffrey Weeks (1985) eloquently put it,

Struggles around sexuality are . . . struggles over meanings--over what is appropriate and not appropriate--meanings which call on the resources of the body and the flux of desire, but are not dictated by them. This approach fundamentally challenges any idea of a simple dichotomy between "sex" and "society". Sex and sexuality are social phenomena shaped in a particular history. (p. 178)

The question now is, of course, how do computers help students realize and think about the "social phenomena shap[ing this] . . . particular history"? At one level, the sheer amount of material about homosexuality on the Internet queries hetero-normativity and the cultural dominance of the heterosexual. But even in classrooms that are locally networked without Internet access, the questioning of the master narrative of hetero-normativity can powerfully continue, demonstrating Cynthia Selfe and Susan Hilligoss's (1994) assertion that "computers change the ways in which we read, construct, and interpret texts. In doing so, technology forces us to rethink what it means to be human" (p. 1).

Indeed, the questioning of what it "means to be human" is at the heart of contemporary debates about the pedagogical possibilities of computerized learning spaces. As early as 1992, Lester Faigley optimistically announced in Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition that

In [the] aftermath of the overthrow of what Lyotard refers to as "magisterial" discourses--discourses that claim the status of a body of truth--a proliferation of suppressed discourses arises, as we have seen an enormous literary and artistic productivity recently from men and women of a multitude of racial and ethnic groups and from different sexual orientations. (p. 217, emphasis added)

As we have begun to question notions of "received" truth, expressed through metanarratives that organize and name our experiences and, thus, condition what is culturally expected and societally permissible, we have simultaneously recovered and allowed for the creation of voices, such as gay and lesbian voices, which have been hitherto marginalized and ignored. The dominant culture's monologic voice has steadily been challenged by a heteroglossia of voices that argue with our society's controlling structures and that combine, break down, and recombine to form stories and narratives that challenge cultural and societal wisdom. Faigley saw college-level composition course as an ideal setting for students to explore and analyze the "discourses that have shaped them and confront . . . the discourses they have struggled against" (p. 218). These comments and ideas appeared in a chapter following one of the first theoretical discussions of computerized educational spaces and networked classrooms, in which Faigley maintained that local computer networks allow students and teachers to question the hierarchial power structures, such as hetero-normativity, which adhere in most classrooms. Perhaps more significantly for Faigley's postmodern argument, networked environments, which allow all students to contribute to and collaborate on one polyvocal text, create heteroglossic text-experiences in which "most students come to acknowledge that the terms in which we understand experience are not fixed but vary according to our personal histories and are always open to new possibilities for creating meaning" (p. 184).

Although the creation of such texts is exciting, it is not that radically different from other attempts to get students to accept or at least tolerate difference. But, particularly in terms of difference in sexual orientation, teachers are tempted to treat the subject gingerly, attempting to instill, at most, tolerance for homosexuality and the an awareness of the unacceptability of homophobia. Janet Wright (1993), in a moving essay, "Lesbian Instructor Comes Out: The Personal is Pedagogy," wrote of the impact of openly gay and lesbian teachers on reducing "societal hatred, fear, and misunderstanding" (p. 31). Such aims are admirable, whether in a computerized composition class or not, but teachers trying to achieve them lack some of the more sophisticated means of analysis available only in computerized learning spaces. Specifically, anonymous networked discussions enable various role-playing exercises that not only prompt the questioning of a monologic cultural voice in order to allow for the inclusion of marginalized voices, but also open up the possibility for all students to understand how social norms and pressures condition the ways everyone speaks--whether gay or straight.

To explain, networked classrooms, especially those with synchronous conferencing software, have allowed teachers to develop role-playing exercises that are pedagogically important in two specific ways. First, role-playing is the quickest way for one individual to experience another's social positioning, especially a position that the student may never have had the opportunity of experiencing before; and second, it ensures that such experiences are conducted in fairly safe and controllable contexts. In Texts and Contexts, Judith Summerfield and Geoffrey Summerfield (1986) noted that

Impersonation [i.e. role-playing] . . . we prefer to construe as "in-personation": as a retrieval of, an entry into, the psyche and the voice of an other, or as the other's entering into one's own voice--the process invariably strikes us as inseparably two-way, reciprocal. (p. 197)

Such "in-personation" is useful in allowing students to experience situations, dynamics, and difficulties that their usual daily experience may never show them. In terms of allowing students to gain insight into the experiences of marginalized or oppressed peoples, role-playing serves a valuable function, even as it allows the traditionally marginalized the opportunity to speak with new power and voice. Utilizing the pseudonym capabilities of Daedalus INTERCHANGE, for instance, students and teachers can write from different subject positions and take on identities that are not their own and experiment with different subject positions' discourses.

Much has already been written (Wahlstrom, 1994) about the pedagogical bonuses of gender-hiding exercises, in which students have the opportunity to "play" at being another gender and experience various and shifting positions of empowerment, subordination, gender expectation, and the prevalence of gender stereotyping (pp. 171-185). Students express surprise in metawriting about these INTERCHANGES, and upon examining the transcripts of these discussions, at how readily they stereotype and categorize each other along gender lines. It is my contention, based on my classroom experience, that such stereotyping and categorization vis-à-vis sexual orientation can become just as obvious and that students can become aware of how all our sexual identities are heavily inflected by social and cultural forces.

At this point the individual teacher's creativity must guide him or her, and experimentation is encouraged. The exercises I have tried and will describe here briefly illustrate, however, that a little role-playing can go a long way in getting students to think more critically about how all identity, and particularly identity related to sexual orientation, is socially construed, constructed, and controlled. These exercises work particularly well in rhetoric classes when definitional arguments are examined, and students have the opportunity to reflect on the polyvocal and dialogic nature of any defining label or category. In one exercise, for instance, I have students log into a Daedalus INTERCHANGE, choose a pseudonym, and begin a discussion about waking up in a world in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is demonized or considered "not the norm" [1] (see note for the full text of a prompt). Examination of the exchange transcripts suggests to me that this forty-minute role-playing exercise gives students the opportunity to problematize deep-seated beliefs about the stability of identity and the primacy of privacy, especially as it is held to be separate from public and social concerns and forces. In examining the transcripts, one can observe that three stages of thought crystalize as the students move toward an understanding of the social forces shaping sexual orientation identity. First, there is a strong defense of essentialist notions of identity; second, there is a growing recognition of how gay and lesbian lives are socially monitored and proscribed; and finally, there is a tentative consideration of how all identities may be socially constructed.

A closer analysis of sample transcripts will reveal the force of these currents of thought, especially as they change direction and re-route themselves. To start, most students begin by writing about how they would never change and about how they would remain "true" to their individual notions of an essential identity. Typical comments include the following. [2]

I believe the moral standards I hold now are universally true. They are not influenced by society nor what most people think. I would choose to stick to what I believe in. I would not be violent about my stand nor would I even defend myself if attacked.
Just feel comfortable with yourself and as long as you are not hurting anyone then don't worry.
I would definitely try to deal with the situation as smoothly as possible. I would not turn gay just to make it easier. I guess I would just live my life as I usually did and just have to live with the consequences, even if they were really hard.
I would not become a homosexual if my life depended on it.

These comments, and there are many similar to them, reveal an essentialist notion of sexual orientation and identity; you are what you are and that's that.

The comment about "moral standards" being "universally true" is typical of the initial response, but students soon begin to realize that there is an inherent contradiction in their many claims that they would not "turn gay," even if their "li[ves] depended on it." Specifically, they begin to talk about feeling "outcast," "isolated," "alone," and "weird." They write of being labeled a "pervert" and of having to deal with "a lot of adversity"--so much so that many of them begin to realize how it is possible for gays to want to "turn" straight:

Reading this has made me realize what homosexuals wake up to every morning.
I think that if this gay society was extremely strong and very defensive towards their preferences in their partners and their way of life it would probably be hard to make a stand on your opinions and your preferences. Especially when the whole society is against you, you would probably feel powerless and weak when it came to what you feel is right.
HAY EVERYONE, all of these responses seem to be how the gay's feel about straight people. That kind of pisses me off because no one seems to understand a homosexuals point of view. You don't even realize that you are thinking like them right now.

One of the most important realizations these students made is how heavily inflected gay lives are by social pressures and forces. The last comment is particularly revealing because it suggests, even in assuming that everyone in the class is straight, that feelings of isolation and abjection are socially conditioned and not inherently part of a gay identity; this student astutely points out how a "homosexual point of view" is transferable to straights when the social context is changed, ultimately suggesting a bit more fluidity between the categories of "straight" and "gay" than most students are accustomed to considering.

Although many gays and lesbians would contend that it is not possible for someone who has been straight to comprehend what living life as a gay person is like, it is undeniable that students, up to this point in the exercise, are on the verge of appreciating the ways in which social pressures toward normalization affect individual lives. This recognition allows some students to double back and reconsider how all lives are complex junctures of the individual and the social, the personal, and the political. Comments such as the following become increasingly frequent toward the end of the hour:

What does the word "normal" mean?
How do you know you were born heterosexual? A lot of gay people feel they were born something hetero, but they realized they were homo or bi. Remember you were never born feeling a certin way you were always taught what to believe in by your family.
I have been brought up to do what I am suppose to do. I have been told to get good grades and a good education and I financially benefit in the future. I have been taught that I should look, dress, and behave like my gender. My parents have not taught me these things I have learned them from the people around me.
I am not saying that everyone follows the norms of society. I am saying that those who don't have a very big disadvantage. If following the norms of society was not important to the majority than why is it so hard for people to accept gay people? People can't except it because it was taught to be abnormal behavior, with some exceptions.

The increasing emphasis in these comments on learned attitudes and behaviors suggests a growing awareness of how "normalcy" is a construct and not a given. Even in their generalizations, these students have begun to consider that the ways in which a culture thinks of itself and interprets behaviors and feelings is important in understanding how we know some things to be acceptable and others not. Behaviors and identities do not exist in vacuums, but rather in cultures that actively interpret them and ascribe meaning to them and, thus, determine what is considered legitimate and natural on one hand and diseased and abnormal on the other. It may be through such realizations that students come closest to understanding that homosexuality is not inherently morally and ethically suspect, but that fear of homosexuality is culturally conditioned and, thus, culturally reversible. Such work, made possible through anonymous role-playing, may do much more to encourage tolerance of difference than anything we have yet attempted in our classrooms.

It is important to note that the development of this kind of thinking became obvious only once we discussed and analyzed the transcripts, a procedure that should be de rigueur as it allows everyone to become aware of assumptions made during a conversation. Even I, at the beginning of the hour, did not know what direction the discussions would take and was as surprised as my students to see the progression of ideas that I could not have controlled in the writing of the discussions even if I had wanted to. It is this lack of control that some teachers will have a hard time allowing, and they are correct in intuiting that there are risks involved in this type of open and anonymous discussion. Some students will engage in flaming, and, unfortunately, some of my students have taken advantage of their anonymity to give voice to homophobic positions. But it is only when the teacher is willing to take such a risk that there is an opportunity for students' deep-seated ideas to come forth and for students to make profound realizations on their own. Most students, in fact, simply ignored such homophobic comments and moved on with the discussion

Of course, there are some who would question the legitimacy of using such an exercise and claim that it is an artificial manipulation of students into thinking about social construction. I cannot deny that role-playing is "artificial," but it is equally arguable that all "performative sites" are artificial, are products of historical, material, and social interactions that only seem natural because we have been occupying them for years on end. Others, especially those outside the academic community, may wonder about the legitimacy of espousing tolerance for homosexuality in our classrooms; by what right, some ask, do we claim to speak about personal matters best left to individual choice?

More theoretically complex but nonetheless real is the threat of identity confusion that Diana Fuss (1991) addressed in her introduction to Inside/Out: "The fear of the homo, which continually rubs up against the hetero . . ., concentrates and codifies the very real possibility and ever-present threat of a collapse of boundaries, an effacing of limits, and a radical confusion of identities" (pp. 5-6). Asking students to think about the social construction and relational relativity of sexual orientation may produce a cognitive uncertainty in those who thought they knew themselves. But if such exercises are used in content-emphasis courses, such as rhetoric classes with a gender studies component, then they will be part of a well-thought-out examination of the intersection between society and identity. Ultimately, I am reminded of the student who accused me of "promoting homosexuality." I can only respond by saying that I encourage all students--both gay and straight--to think of ways each identity is shaped by the stories and narratives that surround and permeate us through the social clusters of family, friends, colleagues, city, state, country, and culture. As compositionists--and as analysts and teachers of language and story--we can have no greater calling.


Jonathan Alexander, PhD, is a lecturer at the University of Southern Colorado, where he has taught first-year composition, British literature, and Modern World literature courses in a networked classroom. He has interests in queer theory and Victorian literature, and he has published articles on Christina Rossetti, A. C. Swinburne, George MacDonald, and C. S. Lewis. His e-mail address is alexand@meteor.uscolo.edu


NOTES
  1. The prompt for the conferences held on March 13, 1996, and October 2, 1996, is as follows:

    This morning when you awoke from a long night's sleep, you became aware that society was no longer as you remembered it. In fact, it had universally made a 180 degree turn in sexual orientation, and the world you remember as being a comfortable environment for heterosexuals like yourself no longer accepts people like you. You don't want to return to isolation, so you must deal with this situation, and do it right now.
    But now you don't fit in. Homo-erotic love is the required standard. Heterosexuals are moral outcasts. They are widely thought to molest children, and the marriage to your fiance(e) that you have looked forward to for several years will not be legally recognized. Procreation takes place in test tubes and hired wombs according to accepted procedures, and couples like you and your fiance(e) are considered hazardous to population growth.
    You turn on the TV news, only to see a demonstration on the court house steps by anti-heterosexual activists shouting "heterosex is sin" and "ban the straights." A sense of doom envelops you as the truth sinks in. You make a cup of coffee and sit down to think about how you will deal with the situation. What do you think? How will your life change? What will happen to your relationship with your family and friends, now all gay? What will you tell your mother or father, sisters, brothers? What will happen when you get back to work? Will you attend the office dinner party? Will you take your fiance(e) with you?
    You think of several choices available to you. Will you try to turn gay? Will you stay straight and pretend to be gay? Will you allow others to know that you are straight and risk the consequences? What might they be? How do you decide to deal with the situation? Why?

  2. All quotations of conference transcripts have students' names removed but retain mechanical inaccuracies of the texts.

REFERENCES

Butler, Judith. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of "sex." New York: Routledge.

Duin, Ann Hill, & Hansen, Craig. (1994). Reading and writing on computer networks as social construction and social interaction. In Cynthia L. Selfe & Susan Hilligoss (Eds.), Literacy and computers: The complications of teaching and learning with technology (pp. 89-112). New York: MLA.

Faigley, Lester. (1992). Fragments of rationality: Postmodernity and the subject of composition. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Foucault, Michel. (1978). The history of sexuality: An introduction. New York: Vintage Books.

Fuss, Diana. (1991). Inside/out: Lesbian theories, gay theories. New York: Routledge.

Litvak, Joseph. (1995). Pedagogy and sexuality. In George E. Haggerty & Bonnie Zimmerman (Eds.), Professions of desire: Lesbian and gay studies in literature (pp. 19-30). New York: MLA

Malinowitz, Harriet. (l995). Textual orientations: Lesbian and gay students and the making of discourse communities. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Selfe, Cynthia L., & Hilligoss, Susan. (1994). Literacy and computers: The complications of teaching and learning with technology. New York: MLA.

Summerfield, Judith, & Summerfield, Geoffrey. (1986). Texts and contexts: A contribution to the theory and practice of teaching composition. New York: Random House.

Wahlstrom, Billie. (1994). Communication and technology: Defining a feminist presence in research and practice. In Cynthia L. Selfe & Susan Hilligoss (Eds.), Literacy and computers: The complications of teaching and learning with technology (pp. 171-185). New York: MLA.

Weeks, Jeffrey. (1985). Sexuality and its discontents: Meanings, myths, and modern sexualities. London: Routledge.

Wright, Janet. (1993). Lesbian instructor comes out: The personal is the pedagogy. Feminist Teacher, 7(2), 26-33.



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