On Thursday I’ll be presenting at the CCCC convention on religion in the writing classroom. Here’s the introduction from my paper.
Uneasy Transitions Between Sacred and Secular:
Investigating the Unacknowledged Operation of Religious Privilege in Writing Studies
Religion in the classroom is under-discussed in writing research. Amy Goodburn notes that our field has paid attention the role “social constructs of race, class, gender, [and] sexual orientation” play in student writing but that “there is another difference that usually remains invisible: the role of religious identity” (333). Since Goodburn’s article, and the few others that preceded it, writing scholars have tried to create a sustained conversation on student religious expression in the classroom. The research includes Elizabeth Vander Lei and bonnie lenore kyburz’s 2005 collection Negotiating Religious Faith in the Composition Classroom along with a dozen or so articles. Despite repeated attempts, the conversation on religion is minimal compared to the other constructs Goodburn describes.
At the same time, researchers and practitioners in the field of student affairs have also considered how to respond to religious difference among students. Student affairs includes education and psychology professionals tasked with running campus programs for resident life, multicultural education, and student counseling. They seek methods for handling religious difference among students, much as we wish to foster a safe space for dialogue among different identities in the writing classroom.
The student affairs research is also limited but it differs from ours in notable ways. In this presentation, I will draw on their work to complicate the religion in writing studies narratives and suggest new directions for further research. I will pay particular attention the role religious privilege plays in limiting the range of religious identifications discussed and in contributing to a perception of academic disapproval for religion that isn’t as it may appear.