Through the recent explosion of this hashtag (and related ones like #ilooklikeanengineer) tweeters have been launching a visual attack on the narrow popular image of the academic, typified by a google images search that offers a largely monochrome, xy-chromosome, cis-gendered version of what a ‘professor’ looks like. A number of articles have emerged from professors who are constantly having to defend and perform their ‘professorness’, like this one from Prof Michelle Moravec reflecting on professorial identity, gender, and dress. It also brought some older ruminations back into circulation, like this one by Dr Sarah J. Jackson on ‘what happens when you are an academic who is also a woman, person of color, and quite young-looking’ and this one by Prof Koritha Mitchell confronting syllabus-fear and the challenges (to faculty and students) of professors who don’t fit the google images norm:
“My very presence makes some of my students uncomfortable because I do not fit any picture society has given them of an expert. My students, after all, have grown up bombarded with the message that people who belong in authority — especially authority based on intellectual accomplishments and expertise —are men, usually white men.”
This raises another interesting facet of our inquiry into women and the canon: what about teaching? What does it mean to teach a/the canon? How do gender, race, nationality, class, disability, and/or sexuality function in the classroom?