My approach to teaching is inspired by Donna Haraway’s foundational feminist concept of “situated knowledge.” “Situated knowledge” centers the limitations and contradictions of individuals’ subjective viewpoints, their “views from somewhere,” in contrast to a false presumption to objectivity, or the “view from nowhere.” As a teacher, my goals are to, initially, help students recognize their own situated positions, both socially and historically; next, explore how this position shapes their viewpoint on their wider worlds; and lastly, consider how they can constructively contribute knowledge which upsets presumptions to objective truth claims they encounter in their daily life and wider social worlds. In this way, my pedagogy is committed to not only including diverse voices but also drawing attention to the ways privilege and perspective intersect to shape the possibilities for understanding.

As a scholar who thinks about how people make and share knowledge online, I often include assignments where students reflect on their own self-presentation online. In these reflections, I ask them to consider how they present themselves online, who they communicate with, and how they build social connections. Throughout these assignments, I emphasize the important role they, as users, play in shaping online social worlds–as I ask them, just what kind of worlds are they making online, and who ends up being left out of or excluded from these spaces? Social and political inequities cannot emerge on a platform without user participation. Achieving a more socially just world requires not only offline activism, but also social interactions based in individuals’ awareness of their social location and its limitations in relation to the diversity of human experience.

I also develop students’ critical awareness of the connections between communication, technology, and culture though analysis and experience. My syllabi emphasize opportunities for students to both apply theory to primary source examples and experience theory within their own lives. In my introductory gender studies courses, students explore digital photography’s social impact through not only course readings on the visual rhetoric and the male gaze, but also by experimenting on their own photographs with popular freeware photo retouching apps—which they may later choose to share, without context, online. In discussion, students reflect on their own self-presentation practices online,
their personal reactions to ‘perfecting’ their image via retouching, and others’ responses to their retouched images. Throughout the process, students make connections between apps’ affordances and ways they are designed to prioritize hegemonic Western beauty practices and norms.

My core pedagogical practices, then, offer students key tools essential to developing this awareness and applying it as media consumers and knowledge producers—particularly in relation to their own diverse backgrounds. Assignments centered on adding to available public knowledge are a cornerstone of my pedagogy. I regularly assign projects where students learn about and edit Wikipedia, leading to the creation of over 50 new Wikipedia pages. You can see some of my students’ pages highlighted by the Wiki Education Foundation here. I’ve also worked with the Digital Transgender Archive to have students create Primary Source Sets for some of their materials.