Introducing the New FDEV Director, Chiara Ferrari

This Tuesday Tip is built around some personal background, so I hope you will indulge me.

Growing up and receiving most of my education in Italy meant that I was not exposed to a theoretical (or even a practical) framework that revolved around race and diversity. As a country that has “no significant history of immigration” (or so we used to believe), we relied primarily on the canonical works of European (read: white) authors.

It is thanks to many instructors, students, colleagues, and mentors that I realized the importance of expanding that canon. Most recently, I have embarked on the reading of bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress. Starting in a new role on campus (while dealing with a global pandemic) does not allow for much time to read, and yet… the first few pages were a powerful reminder of the need to dedicate some time to our own growth, as educators.

“To educate is the practice of freedom,” hooks writes.  In such a simple sentence I found the essence of my love for teaching, as I was reminded of the empowering role that education has in the lives of our students. And in our own lives, for that matter.

hooks continues, stating that “we learned early that our devotion to learning, to a life of the mind, was a counter-hegemonic act, a fundamental way to resist every strategy of white racist colonization… my teachers were enacting a revolutionary pedagogy of resistance that was profoundly anticolonial.” I love to think that every time we enter a classroom we enact a revolutionary act of resistance.

FDEV and the Meriam Library are excited to share the news that Teaching to Transgress (hooks, 1994) is now available, as an eBook, to the entire campus community, through an unlimited license. We hope that you will take this opportunity to assign this reading in your classes, encouraging your students to engage in the courageous “practice of freedom.”

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