When I try to summarize my project in my own mind, the image of a bridge arises. I think of this dissertation, Relationship Literacy and Polyamory: A Queer Approach, as being a bridge, a transition to a new place. The following quote by feminist writer Gloria Anzaldua perfectly captures the mood, the general sense of how I have come to see my project:
“Bridges are thresholds to other realities, archetypal, primal symbols of shifting consciousness. They are passageways, conduits, and connectors that connote transitioning, crossing borders, and changing perspectives.” –Gloria E. Anzaldúa
So…imagine a bridge, if you will. A structure of steel over a body of water. Scholars and teachers in the field of Rhetoric and Composition (a subfield within English) stand on one side. They have a long history of knowledge about how language works, about how “writing is a process,” about how humans use rhetoric to get things done in the world, for good or for ill. In their arms they hold many books. These books contain all the knowledge they have produced. These books contain voices that talk together about queer theory, talk about lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender rights, discuss the interplay between sexuality, identity, and feminism. In the arms of these curious teachers and scholars there are core books, which represent the assumptions of the field. These books about literacy date back over three decades. They describe in these books the belief that literacy is not just a subject to teach because it helps students “get ahead,” but that literacy is, more importantly, a social justice issue that has radical implications for the quality of so many daily lives. Literacy is a gift that every human being should have access to. Literacy helps us move with more wisdom and grace in the world. It allows us to connect to others, in deeper and more rich ways.
On the other side of this bridge is a stack of books about something fairly new. Many of these books have been recently published (the ink is barely dry!), and many more are being published daily, as they strive to keep up with fast-moving current events. These books showcase the voices of scholars and teachers across disciplines such as women’s studies, sociology, law, theology, and psychology. These are texts that describe the cultural polyamory movement. These are texts that offer a new way to think about how the language of mononormativity (the assumption that monogamy is the only ethical or moral choice for sexuality and intimacy) is ubiquitous in many cultures, such as our own. This body of transdisciplinary knowledge, on the other side of this bridge, brings to light how the language of polyamory is creating new ways to enact relationships, promoting as well as simultaneously creating a world that is more full of compassion, peace, and abundance.
My project is a connection between these two lands, between these two collections of voices. It’s a bridge. It pulls these two lands together, two lands already very close in proximity.
What it does, in a nutshell, is broach the transdisciplinary topic of polyamory in the field of rhetoric and composition.