Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color
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Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  8 reviews
_Bootstraps_ is an unusual book: at one level it is autobiographical, detailing the life of an American of Puerto Rican extraction from his childhood in New York City to an academic post at a university. At another level, Villanueva ponders his experiences in light of the history of rhetoric, the English Only movement, current socio- and psycholinguistic theory, and the wr...more
Paperback, 151 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by National Council of Teachers of English
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I liked this "mixed genre" book quite more than I expected. If you think about it, we encounter theory in context of our lives ("Ah, that's right, I read that in my sophomore philosophy class when I was living with a schizophrenic roommate..."), so why not talk about our lives and theory as they influence each other?

I'm not sure I share Villanueva's vitriol toward Hirshe (or heavy, depressing worldview, generally), but I really respect him as a rhetorician, and a lot of what he expresses about b...more
Adam Sprague
Victor Villanueva references a student that argues that "even after learning a language there is still the problem of thinking like white folks" (24). I think this quote is especially powerful in the English classroom more so than any other discipline. This is a culture-based argument. People of different cultures come from different sign systems and therefore have entirely different backgrounds that provide the setting for forming thoughts when critically responding to any media. While one can...more
In his literacy memoir Boostraps (1993), Victor VIllanueva explores literacy, racism, and hegemony in the contemporary United States. He advocates teaching critical literacy, drawing on the work on Antonio Gramsci in order to understand that ways in which ideologies are supported and perpetuated. Part of this is teaching canonical work "in such a way as to expose what he called the folkloristic, the commonly accepted ways of the world, the things too often accepted as if they are a part of natur...more
Surprisingly well-done mix of auto-narrative and crit theory. Other than the Gramsci love fest at the end (and the section on his PhD research went on a little long) it flows well and is very well-crafted.
Ron Christiansen
About as ruckus of a book as you can get with education and writing and diversity. We had the author come to our campus, meet with us, give a speech. A very small but fierce witty guy.
Bruce Martin
Best discussion I've read yet on the hegemony of the culture-classroom spectrum.
One of the books that has kept me in the game.
Changed everything.
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“Another Mexican American in another class, approaches Victor after class, carrying his copy of Fahrenheit 451, required reading for the course. The student doesn't understand the reference to a salon. Victor explains that this is just another word for the living room. No understanding in the student's eyes. He tries Spanish: la salon. Still nothing. The student has grown up as a migrant worker. And Victor remembers the white student who had been in his class a quarter ago, who had written about not understanding racism, that there was none where he had grown up, in Wennatchee, that he has played with the children of his father's migrant workers without there being any hostility. His father's workers. Property. Property that doesn't know of living rooms. And Victor thought of what the man from Wennatchee knew, what the ROTC Mexican American knew, what the migrant worker knew. And he thought of getting up the next morning to go with Serena to St. Mary's for cheese and butter. And he knew there was something he was not doing in his composition classrooms.” 2 likes
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