Dr. Lucia Pawlowski Faculty Spotlight Presentation

In the fourth installment of our Faculty Spotlight Presentation series, Dr. Lucia Pawlowski will open up her spring graduate class on Teaching College English to the public.

Date & Time:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM



O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Room 108

What Are White People Willing To Give Up?: An Argument for Students' Right to Write in Their Own Languages

As early as the 1970’s, Writing Studies has ostensibly valued the various non-standard English linguistic varieties that students bring to the classroom.  This resolve has led to writing professors teaching students to code-switch, wherein wherein students are encouraged to speak their home language, whether it be African-American Vernacular English or Spanish, in the classroom—as long as this home language didn’t make its way into formal academic spaces like final revisions.  Then in 2009, Verhawn Ashanti Young made the bold proclamation that code-switching is akin to linguistic segregation wherein standard written English (SWE) is still valued over linguistic varieties such as African-American Vernacular English.  Young calls for the radical new practice he names code-meshing, wherein students can write in all their linguistic varieties—in final, polished, revisions, and in all formal academic contexts.

Young’s call contributes to the scholarship of anti-racist writing pedagogy and assessment practices in Writing Studies that parallels developments in larger anti-racist movements in the U.S.  In such anti-racist activist circles, I have learned that it is not enough for white people to acknowledge white privilege and vow to fight for racial justice.  As a white person, I must also be willing to give something up.  And what is it that white academics like me should give up?  In this presentation, I assert that code-meshing compels white academics to give up the comfort we feel in the all-white linguistic spaces that code-switching ensures, as well as our invisible role as gatekeepers of SWE as the privileged linguistic variety of the academy. 


A wine and cheese reception will follow.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.