Lauren Gantz is an Associate Professor of English and incoming Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Minor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is also affiliate faculty for UWSP’s Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate. Her published work, which appears in journals such as ARIEL and Meridians, examines the archive as a trope through which Caribbean diasporic authors negotiate historical trauma and cultural memory. Currently, she is researching possible intersections between the fields of critical refugee studies and Caribbean studies. She regularly teaches courses in multiethnic literature, postcolonial literature, graphic narratives, women’s literature, and LGBTQIA+ literature.
TEACHING AND LEARNING PHILOSOPHY
By virtue of my areas of expertise, equity, diversity, and inclusivity are always primary concerns in my classroom. I’m a specialist in U.S. ethnic literature and postcolonial literature, and I teach core classes for both the Women’s and Gender Studies minor and the Native American and Indigenous Studies certificate. Most of my courses necessarily center the voices of marginalized people and require students to engage in intersectional analysis of structural oppression. However, “doing” EDI shouldn’t be siloed into the kinds of classes that I teach. The principles of EDI must be woven throughout our curriculum. To that end, I address social inequities in all my courses, even those that don’t explicitly carry a U.S. diversity or global awareness flag. In my experience, it’s only through this kind of regular exposure to EDI that students integrate its principles and practices into their worldviews.
Experience has also taught me that EDI work demands far more of us as instructors than simply diversifying our course readings. We must engage in constant, self-reflexive examination, and endless revision of our pedagogical strategies. As a white instructor tasked with teaching multiethnic literature at a primarily white institution, I must interrogate my own subject-position and my framing of course content every single time I step in front of a class. Failure to do so can produce lasting harm to students and undermine the goals of EDI.If I had to summarize my teaching philosophy, I’d point to what bell hooks writes in Teaching to Transgress. She explains that, in the classroom, “we have the opportunity to labor for freedom.” EDI work is labor, of the most demanding kind. There are many ways that instructors can fall short of freedom. Yet the opportunity afforded by our labor—to imagine, with students and colleagues, how we might move closer to justice—is a gift. That opportunity, that gift, is what brings me back to the classroom year after year.