English, Department of


Date of this Version

June 1994


Published in Changing Classroom Practices: Resources for Literary and Cultural Studies. Refiguring English Studies, edited by David B. Downing, pp. 104–121. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Posted with permission. http://www.ncte.org


Barbara: The following dialogue relates our experiences using A Feminist Dictionary (AFD) in literature classes. My perspective is that of a feminist teacher who has found AFD to be a useful tool in bringing feminist theory and practice into alignment in the classroom. I believe it is crucial to connect the personal and the public and to connect theory and practice. One of my primary goals as a teacher is to get students to see them selves as agents who are capable of resistance and of personal and social change. In order to facilitate that, we examine hierarchy and power as they operate in the classroom and in the institution, a process in which AFD plays an important part.

Sheila: I first encountered A Feminist Dictionary when it was used as a text in a women’s literature class taught by Professor Barbara DiBernard at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In that class I witnessed the personal revelations of many students who discovered meanings in AFD which refl ected their own experience; I knew, therefore, that I wanted to incorporate this useful linguistic tool into my own writing and teaching. The process of exploring pedagogical theories that inform its use neatly insinuated itself into an original research project.