Trans knowledges and gender-just pedagogies in the language classroom: More than language forms alone

A virtual talk by Kris Aric Knisely


Language education represents a site for identity (re)construction, mediated through language acquisition and use. Through acts such as speaking, reading, and writing, learners must linguistically position themselves and be positioned by others. In this way, language education encourages learners’ reflections on their own identities in relation to the broader social world. Although language learning allows students to (re)imagine, (re)invent, and explore new linguistic and cultural identities, there is often limited attention to trans knowledges and linguistic practices in the curriculum, textbooks, research, and pedagogy of language classrooms, leaving many educators to report feeling particularly un- or under-prepared to engage in gender-just language teaching. In following, this talk will invite reflection on possibilities for remaking, reimagining, and reinventing our language classrooms, materials, and pedagogical approaches to resist normativities and recenter trans knowledges without a hyperfocus on narratives of oppression. Together, we will consider how this ongoing process of queer and trans remaking, reimagining, and reinventing can help us to better serve all of our students, particularly in terms of increasing classroom inclusiveness, fostering tolerance of ambiguity, and the development of linguistic, symbolic, and intercultural competencies. As we illustrate and exemplify these discussions of gender-just language teaching, we will draw on Kris Knisely's research with French language learners and nonbinary French language users. These examples will allow us to collectively consider the unique pedagogical opportunities that teaching trans knowledges and linguistic practices can afford when they are situated in a trans-affirming, gender-just pedagogical framework.


Kris Aric Knisely (Ph.D., French and Educational Studies, Emory University) is an Assistant Professor of French and Intercultural Competence as well as affiliated faculty in both SLAT and TSRC at the University of Arizona. Knisely’s research, in its broadest form, considers gender and sexuality in the linguistic, socio-cultural, and instructional dimensions of language learning. This entails asking how the linguistically- and culturally-situated ways that we perceive and embody gender enter into language education, what normativities manifest there, and how those normativities can be laid bare, upended, and unscripted by language teachers and learners. Within this general frame, Knisely focuses on the culturally-situated linguistic practices of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people who language in French, particularly as they can inform the development and articulation of trans-affirming language curricula, materials, research, training, and pedagogies. Dr. Knisely’s work has appeared in a variety of edited volumes and journals including Contemporary French Civilization, CFC Intersections, Critical Multilingualism Studies, Foreign Language Annals, The French Review, Gender and Language, Journal of Applied Measurement, and Pensamiento Educativo, among others. Knisely is also the co-editor (with Eric Russell, UC-Davis) of Redoing linguistic worlds: Unmaking gender binaries, remaking gender pluralities, to be published by Multilingual Matters in 2023.

Thursday, October 20, 2022
4:00 P.M.

Kris Aric Knisely