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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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720 jac<br />

not have "the luxury of seeing a static truth or fixed certainty." <strong>Boler</strong><br />

provides these two witnesses-who are different culturally, economically,<strong>and</strong>racially-to<br />

suggestthatinquiryisdisquieting,<strong>and</strong>that it leads<br />

to a certain kind of awareness that can only be gained through lived<br />

experience.Lived experienceentailsan assessmentof how emotionsare<br />

used to condition experience,if not color it.<br />

Much like Marley <strong>and</strong> the resistant Calvin, <strong>Boler</strong> complicates our<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing of how power, resistance, <strong>and</strong> social control are intertwined.<br />

<strong>Education</strong>, if we follow rote protocol, will merely reinforce<br />

givens. But awareness-an awareness fostered from constant questioning-will<br />

create discomfort.This discomfortis what <strong>Boler</strong> strives for: a<br />

"pedagogyof discomfort"foregrounds"defensiveanger,fearof change,<br />

<strong>and</strong> fearsof losingourpersonal<strong>and</strong>culturalidentities."Such apedagogy<br />

is, at root, ethical in nature, for it dem<strong>and</strong>s that we make sense of how<br />

we bear witness to what we learn <strong>and</strong> how we learn it <strong>and</strong> to each other.<br />

As <strong>Boler</strong>writes,"a pedagogyof discomfortbegins <strong>by</strong> invitingeducators<br />

<strong>and</strong> studentsto engage in criticalinquiryregardingvalues <strong>and</strong> cherished<br />

beliefs<strong>and</strong>to examineconstructedself-imagesinrelationto how onehas<br />

learnedtoperceiveothers"<strong>and</strong>,Iwouldadd,perceivethe cultureat large.<br />

<strong>Feeling</strong> <strong>Power</strong> reminds me of the earlier work of feminist scholar<br />

Annette Kolodny.In a 1980essay,sheuses the phrase "dancingthrough<br />

the minefield" (also the essay's title) to argue that women who move<br />

through the educationalsystem-particularly those who seek advanced<br />

degrees-must dodgeunforeseenobstacles.Chief amongthese, I would<br />

argue, is isolation.I have littledoubtthat<strong>Boler</strong>,in reclaimingemotionas<br />

a tool of social <strong>and</strong> political inquiry,moves through her own minefield,<br />

while planting a few explosives of her own. That she dances through<br />

<strong>Feeling</strong><strong>Power</strong> with dexterity <strong>and</strong> skill is due as much to her exhaustive<br />

research as it is her tenacity <strong>and</strong>persistence.<strong>Feeling</strong><strong>Power</strong>is a text that<br />

promisesdiscomfort,<strong>and</strong>mightvery well moveus fromcomplacencyto<br />

action,fromslumbertoconsciousness.Itwillnodoubtcauseafewpeople<br />

discomfort, particularly those entrenched in the gendered privileging<br />

practiced in academia. For its power to unsettle the commonplaces of<br />

thought, for its power to cause us to recognize discomfort as a starting<br />

point of critique, we should all commendthe author of <strong>Feeling</strong><strong>Power</strong>.

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