'I See You, I Hear You': Teaching Agency and Empowerment in Times of Crisis (Roundtable)


Rhetoric & Composition / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Crystal Harris (University of Memphis)

This session proposes a re-examination of the undergraduate student writer's concept of agency during times of crisis. We aim to expand our critical understanding of what it means to teach students in a way that empowers, offers agency, and acknowledges the voice of the student during times of crisis, whether such crisis is a result of a global or national issue such as COVID-19 or the result of a personal struggle such as anxiety or loss and, thus, we welcome contributions that address agency, empowerment, and voice from a variety of academic perspectives. While not an exhaustive list, we are particularly interested in proposals that reconsider agency and empowerment in light of pandemics, surveillance, or times of instability by utilizing multi-modal composition, online learning, or social media as pedagogical tools.

We therefore invite scholars from all fields to reflect on different notions of agency in the classroom—both on ground and online—not only in relation to social media and digital applications, but also considering non-contemporary media, subjects, timelines, and art forms as they impact agency in pedagogy.

This session is particularly significant as suicide rates continue to increase and media outlets serve as self-medicating counselors for many undergraduate students. We intend to discuss new and innovative methodologies that foster positivity, redirect negativity and creatively empower students in constructing their own voices through written and virtual mediums. We hope session participants will leave with pedagogical techniques to facilitate lessons that empower their students through “high” and “low” experiences.

This session aims to expand our critical understanding of what it means to teach students in a way that empowers, offers agency, and acknowledges the voice of the student during times of crisis. We are particularly interested in proposals that reconsider agency and empowerment in light of pandemics, surveillance, or times of instability by utilizing multi-modal composition, online learning, or social media as pedagogical tools. Non-contemporary media, subjects, timelines, and art forms are also welcomed.