"I Can't Relate": Refusing Identification Demands in Teaching and Learning


  • Ian Barnard Chapman University


identification, relateability, postcolonial


In literature, composition, and other areas of English Studies, relateability can be an important tool to inscribe marginalized subjects as academic citizens. However, its larger arc reproduces ethnocentric and individualistic ideologies at the national and personal levels that foreclose the true understanding of and engagement with Otherness that defines learning. What are the particular intellectual and other challenges, pleasures, and rewards of refusing the pedagogical imperative to engage and understand through identification? I conclude the article by deploying theorists of difference to ask what it means to understand difference as difference, how this understanding might be facilitated, and what the value of such an understanding might be.

Author Biography

Ian Barnard, Chapman University

Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition