CFP: Teaching and Consumption (journal)

full name / name of organization: 
Marjorie Feld

                        Radical Teacher

The journal "Radical Teacher" is calling for articles on:


Although family values and religion are often cited as the big subjects
for out-of-school lessons, we would place consumption right at the center
of the before-, after-, and even in-school curriculum. Commodities are an
inevitable presence in contemporary life. They seem to drop from the sky
into stores, where their meaning is supposed to be what you can be or get
by buying them, not the labor, conflict, and matters of power that brought
them to the shelves. Commodity lessons abound: You are what you wear,
drive, listen to, eat. You need products to "express yourself"--your
identity, your beliefs, your values, your politics. In fact, the purchase
of objects is often presented as a form of action sufficient in itself:
rainbow flags, Tibetan prayer-bead bracelets and "reincarnation" tea,
breast-cancer awareness ribbon jewelry, nail polish that comes with a
donation to environmental groups. Overall, the commodity world teaches
that your main social role is that of a consumer, not a worker, and
certainly not a citizen, except of course when you are being a citizen
*through* consumption.

What if anything does the standard curriculum do to question these
verities? In what way does it *reinforce* them? And what are progressive
teachers doing in this area? Let's have an exchange of ideas and methods
in *Radical Teacher*. We invite articles on the theory and practice of
teaching about consumption. A few possible topics:

--how do we build into teaching a critique of commodity culture without
offering as alternatives just the bleak puritanism of the tradition left,
or the consumer rationality of white, middle-class people?

--how do we teach consumer skills while at the same time encouraging
critical and radical thoughts about consumption?

--how do student cultures sometimes resist or subvert the lessons of
commodity culture, and how can our teaching build on such resistance?

--how do (and can) teachers in multi-ethnic urban classrooms teach about
becoming "American" through work and consumption?

--how are K-12 teachers teaching about Nike, McDonald's, and so on? about
the global politics embedded in commodities?

--what's happening in *official* education about consumption? how are
businesses bringing their "free" lessons into schools?

--what are students learning about themselves as consumers of education?
how can we question the prevalent market logic without just making
students feel guilty about wanting success?

--in colleges, how is Cultural Studies confronting (or evading!) these

--what kinds of activism are promising, around such questions, in schools
and in colleges?

Send brief proposals, draft manuscripts, or correspondence to:

Marjorie Feld Erica Rand

28 Hamilton Road Art Department/Olin Arts Center
Somerville, MA 02144 Bates College
                                        Lewiston, ME 04240

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Received on Sat Sep 05 1998 - 14:31:40 EDT