Quick Read: The “Hidden Curriculum”

As part of AllGo‘s new series looking at being fat in college, Meaghan O’Riordan‘s The “Hidden Curriculum” Taught by Desks in College Classrooms (Almost) Everywhere considers the ways that space, fitting in, and the ways that campuses reflect on the needs of plus-size students (or not!) affects our experience as students.

O’Riordan’s post addresses an issue that is relevant to our discussions in Weeks 1 and 9, and highlights the ways that the learning environment can influence feelings of belonging and knowledge exchange:

Sarah M. also felt that the accessible desks, located almost exclusively, in the front of some of her classrooms at Portland State University placed people in the spotlight.

Additionally, she had to register as someone with a disability in order to gain access to this seating, even though she was able-bodied. This required her to get a letter from her doctor saying she is “medically obese” and going through this process was very traumatic for her.

She felt that by asking for an accommodation she was appropriating language not meant for her but, without doing so, she would be without any seating options as the other seats in her classrooms were “tablet arm” style desks that can’t accommodate plus-size students.

Meaghan O’Riordan, ‘The “Hidden Curriculum” Taught by Desks in College Classrooms (Almost) Everywhere’, September 4, 2019

Drawing on 15 interviews, as well as research by D. Breithecker, Kemal Yildirim et al., and Heather A. Brown (among others), the article is a profound reflection on embodiment and space, and a sound starting point to explore discrimination in greater depth.

Methods: Run-alongs

One for the methods side of the course, Making space on the run: exercising the right to move in Jerusalem, by Dr Una McGahern, provides an insight into the intersection of politics, the body, and contested spaces.

In her study, McGahern draws on the go-along method, which in the case of her study, involved participating in eight ‘run-alongs’ with a running group, two training sessions in East Jerusalem, and the Palestine half-Marathon in Bethlehem.

[Image via: Right to Movement/Signe Vest]

As well as offering a fascinating analysis of running as “an ongoing political claim and exercise [emphasis in original]”, McGahern highlights the opportunity to do methods in an fresh way:

The ability of the researcher to hold a ‘conversational pace’ of running (or not!) allows local runners the opportunity to initiate, or close, conversation with relative ease. The option to accelerate or slow down the pace of running to run on with others or continue alone provided a safe and non-pressurised atmosphere to participate, observe and gauge perceptions while responding to the different needs, moods, preferences and comfort levels of runners, a key ethical benefit of the run-along method.

Una McGahern, 2019. ‘Making space on the run: exercising the right to move in Jerusalem’, Mobilities. p. 8.

For more on the go-along method, see Margarethe Kusenbach’s 2003 article, Street Phenomenology: The Go-Along as Ethnographic Research Tool; on walking, you can read Tim Edensor’s 2010 study, Walking in rhythms: place, regulation, style and the flow of experience, and Jo Vergunst’s Rhythms of Walking: History and Presence in a City Street (2010), and in the context of Palestine, Raja Shehadeh’s Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape (2008).

CfA: Feminist Studies Mentorship Programme

Here’s an innovative initiative organised by the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration, under which one year of mentorship will be provided by the co-founders and co-directors of the CTDC, Dr Nour Abu-Assab and Dr Nof Nasser-Eddin.

The call’s themes cover a range of areas, including, among others:

  • Decoloniality and Decolonising Methods
  • Feminist Knowledge Production
  • Feminist Methodologies
  • Gender Performances, Masculinities and Femininities
  • Refugeehood Migration and Displacement
  • Feminist Political Theory and Governance
  • Minorities and Marginalised Communities

The Mentorship lasts one year, and is aimed at researchers affiliated with academic institutions, as well as independent scholars and those working in civil society organisations.

For more information on the Centre and the Programme, visit the call, here.

Deadline for applications: July 31, 2019.