Teaching While Ugly: A Story of Racial Pulchritude, Privilege, and Pedagogy
This chapter offers a critical investigation into how the concept of ugliness manifests as more than an aesthetic interpellation. Rather, this chapter contends that ugliness, in tandem with concepts of racial pulchritude, directly and indirectly influences one's professional identity and pedagogical efficacy. More than a strict examination of student evaluations, this autho-ethnographic analysis examines how identity categories like race, class, gender, sexuality and ability both contribute to, and circumscribe, how ugliness is socioculturally interpreted within the competitive halls and classrooms of academia. Utilizing a wide variety of sources, such as student evaluation comments, peer reviews and professional commentary, and email, and with first-person accounts, the author conducts a self-reflexive assessment about how the twin discourses of body image and racial attractiveness function within a higher education environment for a gay man of color and his professional life. The intention of this chapter is that readers should develop a more complex understanding of the practical consequences of "teaching while ugly" in addition to grasping a more rudimentary recognition and comprehension of the times, places and reasons why people are rendered "ugly" against contemporary standards of racialized beauty. The chapter draws upon a wealth of rich bibliographic sources across an array of disciplinary traditions, to create a complex picture of what kinds of aesthetic standards proliferate within the halls of academia and the consequences which predictably ensue from strict adherence to those standards for academicians of today.