TransLit: Sustainable Trans/national Literacies: Ethics, Affect, Pedagogy

Research – Department of Teacher Education

TransLit: Sustainable Trans/national Literacies: Ethics, Affect, Pedagogy

Kids playing. Painting.
Used with permission from From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in Sea, text by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrations by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017).”

Used with permission from From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in Sea, text by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrations by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017).

This new line of research considers the understudied relationship between sustainability and literature, particularly transnational writing in English from feminist, queer, and transgender perspectives. The notion of sustainability runs the risk of becoming “another consumer desirable” (Saussy 2012). In turn, this study proposes an ethics of sustainability through the lens of transnational writers and poets such as Kai Cheng Thom, Emma Donoghue, Vivek Shraya, Shani Mootoo, and angela rawlings. In different but related ways, their work portrays how communities who are rendered unproductive and debilitated—migrants, refugees, transgender children and youth—are often relegated outside the script of sustainability by a dominant politics of indifference. Simultaneously, these narratives can be employed as valuable pedagogical resources, working as vehicles for inclusion from which to promote alternative modes of feeling, while simultaneously counteracting gender and racial discrimination in the classroom.

The methodology employed, which relays on qualitative analysis, crosses the borders of genre (children’s literature, young-adult fiction, poetry, and drama) and discipline (transnational literary studies, feminist environmental ethics, queer philosophy, and trans pedagogy). The study’s focus will be on three areas: ethics, affect, and pedagogy. First, I will examine how these transnational writers redefine ethics by proposing more sustainable ways to think about responsibility, hospitality, and difference. Then, I will analyze how the ethics of sustainability that they propose interrogates negative emotions such as fear and shame, transforming them into what I call “sustainable affects” (2017). In the third part of this study, I will consider the ways in which these authors are developing sustainable pedagogies by promoting inclusive ways to think about literacy, particularly through their emphasis on gender and racial issues.

Activities and Publications

Summer and spring 2020

  • Peer-Reviewed Journal Article. García Zarranz, L. (2020). Feeling Sideways: Shani Mootoo and Kai Cheng Thom's Sustainable Affects. University of Toronto Quarterly, 89(1), 88-106.
  • Webinar by Stella Mililli (NTNU, ILU). "Borderland Rhythms in Refugee-themed Literature. Terry Farish’s The Good Braider", Western Social Science Association Virtual Conference and Association for Borderlands Studies Webinar Series, June 3, 2020.
  • Keynote lecture by project leader. "Paradoxical Worldings: Reflections on Feminist and Trans Cultures Today", University of Cambridge, Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK, March 16, 2020.

Event postponed due to COVID-19:

  • Co-organization of “The Poetics and Ethics of ‘Learning With’: Indigenous, Canadian, and Québécois Feminist Productions Today”, the second of a two-part conference which will be held at NTNU on August 24-25, 2020. This event marks another collaboration between the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta (Canada) and the English Section at ILU. Access the CFP here (PDF).

Fall 2019

Spring 2019

Winter 2018

Fall 2018

  • 14th ESSE Conference, Masaryk University (Czech Republic), August 29-31. Co-organization of three panels on “Ethics and Violence in Contemporary Literatures in English” by project leader and Prof. Pilar Cuder-Domínguez
  • Guest Lecture by Prof. Belén Martín-Lucas (University of Vigo, Spain): “A Decolonial Critique of the ‘War on Terror’ Metanarrative: Reading Feminist Fiction”. NTNU (Norway), September 13

Summer 2018

Affiliated International Members

Affiliated International Members