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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Organized in 2002 by graduate student and faculty members of the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Minority Studies Reading Group meets monthly to discuss readings in minority and women’s literature, cultural studies, and literary theory. Since inception, the Reading Group has been interdisciplinary in focus, attracting scholars from English and History, as well as from Women’s Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, Disability Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Area Studies, African American Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Asian American Studies, and American Indian Studies. Points of departure for the Group include the question of what constitutes a “good” reading of a literary text, and the view that such a reading should bear out our theoretical claims.

Over the years, members have built a reading community to consider, for example, the role of social and cultural identity in the practice of reading and teaching and in the recovery of culture and history. One central goal of the Group has been to develop a progressive view of personal experience to serve intellectual growth and political action. To do so, the Reading Group has been engaged with the realist theory of knowledge, as supported, for example, in Moya and Hames-García’s Reclaiming Identity and Macdonald and Sánchez-Casal’s Twenty-first Century Feminist Classrooms. In October 2002, graduate and faculty members of the Reading Group were invited to present a collaborative paper on the politics of community reading and consensus building titled “Reading Together” at a University of Michigan-FMS conference titled “Redefining Identity Politics.” In October 2003, members of the Reading Group helped organize the UW-Madison-FMS conference “Reading Identity,” on literary analysis and identity politics, at which graduate students from the Reading Group discussed prearranged readings with visiting graduate students from across the country, and several graduate students and faculty members presented papers drawn from and shared with the Reading Group. Growing out of such engagements, graduates students in the Reading Group have organized across the country to form the Junior Scholars Caucus, through which graduate students have met at Cornell University in May 2004. Generously funded for books and conference travel by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of English, the Minority Studies Reading Group continues to meet, discuss, and build a progressive reading community.

Contact: Sean Teuton, Associate Professor of English and American Indian Studies





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