Drafted in the wake of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, this article explores the potential benefits of students writing unrevised, real-time auto/biographical narratives as an element of disaster pedagogy. The lesson of the ugly auto/biography builds on an impromptu post-9/11 assignment and allows students the space to resituate themselves in the classroom after facing natural and/or national disasters. This article argues that such narratives offer faculty means to be present and active for students in times of crisis and tragedy, teach more complex and nuanced critical reading skills, and explore the structures of contextual frameworks necessary for close readings while modeling vital research practices.
Teaching Hurricane María: Disaster Pedagogy and the Ugly Auto/Biography
Ricia Anne Chansky is professor of literature at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She is coeditor of the scholarly journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies and editor of the new Routledge Auto/Biography Studies book series. She coedited The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies Reader (2015) and edited two volumes, Auto/Biography in the Americas: Relational Lives (2016) and Auto/Biography across the Americas: Transnational Themes in Life Writing (2016). In the 2018 – 19 academic year she will be leading a large-scale public humanities project on Hurricane María in conjunction with the Voice of Witness program and the Humanities Action Lab. She has previous and forthcoming publications on auto/biography studies, diaspora studies, disaster studies, feminist rhetorics and gender studies, new American studies, pedagogy, social justice, transnational studies, and visual culture.