In Margaret Cantú-Sánchez, Candace de León-Zepeda & Norma Elia Cantú (eds.), Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa: Pedagogy and Practice for Our Classrooms and Communities. pp. 296-313 (2020)

Alexander V. Stehn
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Many of my first students at Anzaldúa’s alma mater read Borderlands/La Frontera and concluded that Anzaldúa was not a philosopher. Hostile comments suggested that Anzaldúa’s intimately personal and poetic ways of writing were not philosophical. In response, I created “American Philosophy and Self-Culture” using backwards course design and taught variations of it in 2013, 2016, and 2018. Students spend nearly a month exploring Anzaldúa’s works, but only after reading three centuries of U.S.-American philosophers who wrote in deeply personal and literary ways about self-transformation, community-building, and world-changing. The sections of this chapter: 1) describe why my first students rejected Anzaldúa as a philosopher in terms of the discipline’s parochialism; 2) present Anzaldúa’s broader understanding of herself as a philosopher; 3) summarize my reconstructed Anzaldúa-inspired American Philosophy course and outline some assignments; 4) discuss how my students respond to Borderlands/La Frontera when we read it through the lens of self-culture; and 5) explain my attempt to shape the subdiscipline of American Philosophy by teaching Anzaldúa to specialists at the 2017 Summer Institute in American Philosophy.
Keywords Gloria Anzaldúa  American Philosophy  Self-Culture  Teaching
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