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Feeling Power: Emotions and Education by Megan Boler - JAC Online

Feeling Power: Emotions and Education by Megan Boler - JAC Online

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716 jac<br />

experiences <strong>and</strong> those of my students, I could not have read <strong>Megan</strong><br />

<strong>Boler</strong>'s <strong>Feeling</strong><strong>Power</strong> at a better time. This book argues for the need to<br />

situate the often isolated <strong>and</strong> isolating work we do in education in a<br />

historical <strong>and</strong> political framework--one that accounts for class, economic,<br />

<strong>and</strong> power relationships that we both identify with <strong>and</strong> are<br />

identifiedwithin. <strong>Boler</strong> suggeststhat emotionsare not singular events.<br />

Instead,emotionsare political <strong>and</strong>-when exercisedin education-ean<br />

work in twoways.First,they canbe used as a form of socialcontrol.For<br />

example,humiliation,fear, <strong>and</strong>shame-emotions thathaveacultural<strong>and</strong><br />

genderedconnotation--ean workto uphold the statusquo <strong>and</strong>predetermine<br />

the "value" of intellectuallabor. Second,emotionscan be understood<br />

as sites of resistance <strong>and</strong> social redress. In this latter scenario,<br />

emotions such as humiliation, fear, <strong>and</strong> shame, <strong>and</strong> even anger are<br />

"reclaimed."Inthiscase,emotionsareconnective<strong>and</strong>cognitive;theyare<br />

not "privateproblems"but are indicatorsthat "somethingis wrongwith<br />

the outside world."<br />

As<strong>Boler</strong>maintains,becauseemotionshaveengenderedhistoriesthat<br />

functioninterms of culturalcapital,the control of "emotionaldiscourse"<br />

determinesnot only the disseminationoflmowledgebut also itsproduction<br />

both outside <strong>and</strong> inside the classroom.Because women are often<br />

situatedon thesideof the"emotional"(a largelypejorativeterm that<strong>Boler</strong><br />

avoids using), they find themselves in a bind. Women teachers are<br />

expectedto act as caretakers<strong>and</strong> nursemaids,roles that are associated<br />

with feelingbut not withpower.At the same time,womenaredemeaned<br />

for takingon theseroles.In thiscontradictorysituation,<strong>Boler</strong>providesa<br />

new terrain for mapping the emotions. She argues that emotions are<br />

epistemological,<strong>and</strong> arenot, as Western philosophymaintains,opposed<br />

to reason;rather,emotionsenablereason.<strong>Boler</strong>, who receivedher early<br />

trainingin philosophybeforeenteringthe moreinterdisciplinaryHistory<br />

of Consciousnessprogramat Santa Cruz, writes in her preface that she<br />

began to realizethat "emotion's exclusionfromphilosophy <strong>and</strong> science<br />

was not a coincidence.... The boundary-the divisionbetween 'truth'<br />

<strong>and</strong>reasonon one side,<strong>and</strong> 'subjectivebias' <strong>and</strong>emotionon the otherwas<br />

not a neutral division."Once shebeganto seethat "the two sidesof<br />

the binary pair were not equal," she also saw that emotion had been<br />

positionedon the"negative"sideof thebinary division<strong>and</strong> that emotion<br />

was not alone on the "bad side of the fence-women were there too."<br />

<strong>Boler</strong>arguesthatemotionshaveutility <strong>and</strong>design,exemplifiedbothinthe<br />

ways that variouscultures employemotions--eross-culturally, emotions<br />

are not "equal" or neutrallyvalued-<strong>and</strong> in the ways that emotionsare

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