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Passing Presentation Fall 2016: Passing as a Lens for FY Composition

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Julie Swedin

on 18 October 2016

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Transcript of Passing Presentation Fall 2016: Passing as a Lens for FY Composition

Re-Seeing the Self:

Student Examples
Authentic Engagement
There are Countless
Ways to Pass
Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Age, Class, etc.
What is Passing?
"Passing involves erasing details or certain aspects of a given life to move past perceived, suspected, or actual barriers to achieve desired ends" (8).
Dodie Forrest & Julie Swedin
Yakima Valley College

"It is passing when people
present themselves as other than who they understand themselves to be" (7).
Racial Passing
Sex/Gender Passing
Age Passing
The Phenomenon of Passing

Why do people pass?

What do passers do to pass?

How might society benefit from people who pass?Does authenticity really matter?

How much information does one person owe another?

When is nondisclosure lying?

How does lying affect the soul?

How does creating, imposing, adopting, or rejecting a given identity impact the passers both positively and negatively?

How does passing put us in touch with the wonderful ability each person has to create and recreate "the self?"

How does society reward and penalize individuals that cross perceived identity boundaries?

Can you think of some examples reported in the news that reveal the often heated nature of how passing is perceived?

Why does society often judge harshly those who pass to circumvent unjust exclusion and to achieve ordinary, honorable aims and ambitions?
More Questions Kroeger Asks
Imitation of Life
, 1959
The Danish Girl
, 2016


The Caitlyn Jenner Story
, Sitcom
Rachel Dolezal
Former NAACP president in Spokane, WA
Class Passing
Pretty Woman
, 1993
Teaching for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
Brooke Kroeger
Journalist & NYU professor
Passing raises LOTS of questions.
Why would someone pass?
What happens if they're found out?
Would you judge someone harshly for passing?
What are the rewards?
Questions are central to academic inquiry and argument.

Be curious & ask questions
Talk with others
Read to learn
Conduct research
Evaluate sources
Explore thoughts through writing
Formulate an argument
What makes a man or a woman?
What makes a person black or white?
Are we our bodies?
What does passing do to loved ones?
Isn't lying and deceiving wrong?
Gives us many larger philosophical questions we can explore to eventually assert our own arguments:
Multifaceted Aspects of Passing as a Lens for First-Year Composition
Survey Results
Binary Thinking/
Confirmation Bias
"I wondered if I would find that The Bible said it was wrong, or if it would encourage passing in some aspects. Most people I have talked to about racial passing or gender passing seem to look down on those who choose to pass that way. These people seem to think passing is a lie and that if you are hiding it then it should be their right to know. I know what others think of passing, but is it wrong or right from a Christian perspective?"

“[M]eaningful engagement [by students is needed to] understand, challenge, and replace oppressive belief structures."

“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
― Paulo Freire,
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“By enabling students to employ multiple forms of composing to critically rehear and resee the world, we might increase the likelihood that they will come to recognize and attempt to transform the unjust material hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability that prevent the realization of transformative democracy in our nation and our world”

--Jason Palmeri,
Remixing Composition

“Teaching for societal transformation frees the spheres of the school to serve as a space of questioning and struggle. Teachers become reflective, intentional, and strategic about inculcating a progressive democracy-based agenda in the classroom.”

"Now that I am aware of what passing is and how it affects individuals lives, I will look at people who pass in a more open point of view."
"It's hard for me to put into words what i took away from the course, but just a lot of knowledge on a topic that i feel is very important in our society today that at first i knew nothing about. I also got to learn all about the LGBT youth in America, which made me feel more open and understanding of the hardships these teens might have to go through. The whole theme for the course was very enlightening."
What was your biggest takeaway?
That I should not take my life for granted because there are people in society who have to pretend to be something they are not just to have the simple pleasures in life.
"I opened my eyes to the actual term, I once thought that people were lying, being fake or ashamed of being who they are, but now I understand the aspects as to why they do it. I looked at it before in a negative way, but now I find it interesting and learned how common this has happened or is happening."
"Openness. I was unaware of why passers did what they did to be accepted in the beginning and had a closed off mindset. I enjoyed becoming more open."
"Openness. Because I was very closed minded due to the way I was raised but this topic forced me to think outside of my confront zone and boundaries. Which I admire."
"Definitely curiosity because I kept yearning to learn more about passing and come to one simple conclusion/answer but I found out quickly that there really is no right answer."
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
--Erica Mohen, "From Cowardice to Courage"
--Michael Dantley, "Transformative Instructional Leadership"
"My aunt till this day doesn't lose hope that her daughter will marry a man, but there will come a day where she has to face her demons too and fully understand that her daughter will always be a lesbian not by choice but by heart. I personally feel that if it wasn't because of what I experienced with my cousin I would still be held captive to my rule book [the Bible]."
Meaningful Engagement: Challenging Belief Structures
Meaningful Engagement:
Questioning & Struggle
"As I read [
The Underground Girls of Kabul
] I questioned how I got this life, how my family which consists of four girls, five including my mother, lives in peace. With no need to resort to a
bacha posh
because I can live up to my full potential. I never saw myself as anyone special, I'm not smarter or stronger than any other girl but I am free. I never saw that as a privilege because I never looked into the lives of those who don't [live free]. . . . Why did I get this life?
Meaningful Engagement:
Participating in the Transformation of Their World
"I thought about both sides of the issue and had originally came up with the claim stating transgender men and women had to use the bathroom assigned to the [sex] they were born with. . . . But I could not let myself type that claim on paper, it felt so wrong to say. I felt terrible that that would mean transgender people would continue to be mentally and physically harassed. I wanted, no I needed, to come up with a different solution. I really like the gender-neutral bathroom idea. To me it solves all the problem. No one has to feel uncomfortable in this private place. . . . After writing this paper it gave me more of an understanding of what long term passers, gender passers in this case, have to go through in their everyday lives. . . . We forget that there are people who are suffering and struggling with their identity because of all the hatred of being different out there."
from student exploratory essay
from student exploratory essay
from student book analysis
from student reflection on argument
Meaningful Engagement:
Participating in the Transformation of Their World
"I think what made talking about Caitlyn Jenner interesting was that a lot of my family members don't typically have a lot of nice things to say about her, and I sometimes get caught up in that. However, I loved being able to research, find out what she was about, and form my own opinions. I was able to take those new opinions home and have a conversation with my family that took away a lot of the negative energy they had towards her."
from student reflection of exploratory essay
Meaningful Engagement:
Seeing Complexity
"A lot of people who are indeed African American are enraged by the fact that Rachel Dolezal feels she can be whatever race she wants. This seems to be an example of white privilege to them and I completely understand that. Many black individuals cannot just decide to be white if they choose to or when it is at their convenience. . . . Now that I know what I know about passing, I can sympathize with Rachel more than I could in the beginning. I understand that she is not coming from a place of mockery or trying to be malicious towards anyone. I see now that Rachel Dolezal has a deep appreciation and love for the African American community. So much so that she felt in her heart she needed to be a part of it. I do not think that this love overshadows the fact that she lied and deceived people who trusted her, however."
from a student exploratory essay
Student Examples
Embodied Learning
"Being a first-generation American with Mexican culture upbringings was a challenge to balance out as a child. I acquired fluent English, attended a public school and all my friends were Caucasian, I was exposed to American music, movies and TV shows. I learned to enjoy a culture that surrounded me, but I also came home to my authentic Mexican culture, Spanish-speaking household and Catholic religion from my parents. It was impossible to be the same person in both environments. I wasn’t my mother or my father. I didn't grow up in Mexico. I grew up in the United States. The impression that I lost my parents culture is, of course, at some level true, but not stimulating; the interesting thing is that my culture consisted of
The Simpsons
The Backstreet Boys
Navigating Two Worlds, Two Identities
from a student exploratory essay
"[Being gay] shaped the way I looked at life and the world around me. . . . It took me a long time to come to grips with who I am. It wasn't until the start of my junior year in high school that I finally decided to come out of the closet. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. . . . Since coming out of the closet allowed me to share what being gay meant to the people around me, could this be the case for other people? Does coming out of the closet give an opportunity for the people connected to a gay person to be more familiar with what being gay actually is?

. . . Should a gay person stop passing? I think so, if not only for themselves, but for the people around them. If only to educate others. If only to progress the cause of acceptance and knowledge as a whole."
from a student exploratory essay
Thinking Beyond the Self
"Growing up in one of those trailer parks where there were dirt roads with holes so deep kids would take a swim every time it would rain was something I considered embarrassing. I remember every other day when I would stay after school I would walk the opposite way until the bus left because I didn't want other people in the bus to see that I lived in the trailer park . . . Why do people care if they are considered rich or poor . . . ? Why do people pretend to be wealthy when they really aren't? How does passing affect the person and their relationship with others around them?
from a student exploratory essay
Examining Perceived Barriers
Full transcript