This project posits the practice of scrapbooking as an arts-based, performative autoethnographic method of inquiry that allows me to interrogate my experiences teaching a tourism course grounded in critical performative pedagogy. Teaching American Expedition was sublime and, in its sublimity, it resists linear, dispassionate analysis. Choosing an arts-based method of inquiry, such as scrapbooking, opens up possibilities of thinking and understanding beyond the limitations of language, of honoring bodied experiences that are not easily or necessarily speakable, and of exploring how care is enacted in and through the practice of my pedagogy.
We lost Shannon on the mountain. Chris decided to use our strenuous ten-mile hike as a weight-loss opportunity. Amy and Rachel were constantly peeing in the bushes, even when restrooms were nearby. Against recommendation, Karla and Jennifer both wore “barefoot” shoes and bruised their feet on the rugged terrain. Brianna and Tina tried to ditch our climactic hike because they were hungover. Cindy, Nicole, and Megan had a terrifyingly close encounter with a bear. And I tore my meniscus—twice.
I designed and taught the travel-study course, American Expedition, in summer 2011, and led two subsequent sessions in 2012 and 2015. Teaching this course was one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors I have undertaken. Sifting through all the ephemera I had collected and stuffed into a cardboard box—photos, logistical materials, notes, souvenirs, and unclaimed student scrapbook projects—I wondered: How can I wring some sense, something useful, out of these messy moments? This uncertainty was, in part, due to the power of my affective interpretations: joy, frustration, fear, love, satisfaction, awe. As I flipped through the student scrapbooks, I was reminded why I chose to assign this project: scrapbooks offered early American tourists a medium through which to exercise self-reflexivity and sense-making as they engaged in an experience that was inherently affective and ephemeral.1 Sitting cross-legged in the midst of the material remains of my experiences, contemplating the bits of stuff strewn across my floor—not trash, but also not doing anything—I realized these bits are, as Patricia Leavy might say, teaching scraps; they are dear to me because their presence, their tangibility, performs “the heart of my relationship with my work.”2 While I had not saved these scraps with the intention of creating anything, their continued presence in my life suggested I might assemble my own scrapbook that would allow me to investigate, as D. Soyini Madison says, “how [my] work merge[d] affect with effect and theory with practice” as I performed teacher of American Expedition.3
American Expedition, a travel-study course I designed for the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies, introduces students to the study of place through the practice of tourism. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, students work at the intersections of the fields of performance, place, tourism, memory/remembrance, material culture, critical studies, cultural geography, and communication (among others). The primary course objective is to facilitate students’ understandings of tourism as a contextually bound, meaningful human practice that contributes to constructions and performances of places. Specifically, we focus on American constructions of nature as wilderness. Student learning outcomes emphasize the exploration of wilderness as a place imagined and constructed through the enactment of tourism.4
Teaching courses in tourism studies or courses that address tourism-as-subject open spaces for innovation and intervention in tourism research, including the application of critical performative pedagogy (CPP). Employing CPP requires attention to embodied experiences and bodies as evidence, a perspective that can position tourism as a meaning-filled human experience. CPP, as Elyse Lamm Pineau says, “puts bodies into action in the classroom” and requires participants (students and instructors) to engage in “rigorous, systematic, exploration-through-enactment of real and imagined experience in which learning occurs through sensory awareness and kinesthetic engagement.”5 This approach refuses to reduce tourism to its economic, political, and cultural impacts on toured locations, and doesn't pigeon-hole the tourist as an escapist dupe enacting (un)conscious imperialist fantasies.
But teaching a course on tourism through CPP is messy, especially if the course includes a travel-study component. CPP makes particular kinds of demands on the instructor's body, and the discourse of teaching (especially teaching informed by critical pedagogies that decenter the authority of the instructor) disciplines that body in ways that are, at times, incompatible with the actuality of the situation. American Expedition is a physically rigorous course that challenges and stretches the traditional student–teacher relationship in ways that are both liberating and unsettling. I was called upon to care not only for students’ intellectual engagement, but also their bodied engagement. The welfare of students’ bodies was paramount. Issues of hydration, calorie deficiency, exposure and exhaustion, bear safety, and strains/breaks all manifested as we moved through Yosemite National Park (YNP) and the course, as did psychosocial issues including homesickness, peer pressure, and cliquishness. And beyond the extra-ordinary issues, we had to navigate and manage ordinary practices—eating, excreting, sleeping, and communicating—as they were negotiated within the parameters of place. Because of the severity of the potential consequences of inadequately addressing these issues (death!), I was often overcome with feeling as I performed teacher–tourist.
Teaching American Expedition was an exercise in managed chaos, a constant negotiation of kinds and levels of risk, and a strange grappling with the tensions between public and private. The experience of teaching this course was sublime and, in its sublimity, it resists linear, dispassionate analysis and demands a departure from traditional critical qualitative methods. This project posits the practice of scrapbooking as an arts-based, performative autoethnographic method of inquiry that allows me to interrogate my lived, bodied experiences teaching a tourism course grounded in CPP.
Scrapbooks are, by definition, autoethnographic; they connect individual experiences to broader cultural experiences through a systematic, analytical process intended to generate understanding and meaning. Scrapbooking as a mode of authoethnography can support “affect-aware pedagogy” by allowing me to critically examine my experiencing, affective body situated in time, place, and history.6 The practice foregrounds the subjectivity of the scrapbook maker, providing a narrative space to tell stories about herself and her relationships with others in ways that can make visible and confront oppressive sociocultural beliefs and practices. Its disruptive and subversive potential locates the scrapbook within the paradigm of performative autoethnography, which Tami Spry defines as aesthetic/epistemic praxis.7 Choosing scrapbooking as an arts-based method of inquiry opens up possibilities for thinking and understanding beyond the limitations of language, for honoring embodied experiences that are not easily or necessarily speakable, and for exploring how care is enacted in and through the practice of my pedagogy.
Scrapbooking also permits the production and dissemination of a research product that performs through its aesthetics the complicated, contingent, and contested meanings of the practices of teaching tourism critically. Pineau encourages us to move towards “poetically crafted” pedagogical scholarship that may include a “bricolage of form” in order to “create an imagined, shared space in which the human bodies of researchers, subjects, and readers can touch and be touched by one another.”8 The scrapbook as form facilitates the creation of this space. Danille Elise Christensen writes, “scrapbooks are intended to be ‘affecting works’; they are crafted in order to assert feeling and evoke power.”9 Thus, the scrapbook as research product has the potential to evoke the felt quality of the teaching experience.
The choice to employ as mode of critical scholarly inquiry a form popularly gendered feminine and consigned to the private sphere matters. The pervasive association of scrapbooking with domesticity positions the practice as “women's work”—“the practical and symbolic work” that “create[s] and maintain[s] the obliged affections and affective obligations of family love”—contributing to the invisibility and devaluation of women's labor (especially caring-for) and women's ways of knowing/doing.10 While I do not want to reinscribe gendered dichotomies (care/labor, emotion/intellect, private/public, nature/culture, teaching/research, etc.), it is important to assert the value of practices associated with women's epistemologies because, as Cinthia Gannett observes, “our culture … labels women's ways of speaking—whether actual or stereotypical—as restricted, inferior, and inappropriate for public use.”11 The categorization of scrapbooking as craft rather than art, a private as opposed to public practice, is an enactment of power that works to limit the agency of scrapbookers/women. Critiques of scrapbooking based on the aesthetic conventions of canon formation (art/craft), merit as defined by the academy's “regime of rigor,” and elitist perceptions of authenticity effectively toss the cultural practice into the academic waste bin.12 This dismissal of scrapbooking perpetuates social hierarchies rooted in sexist, classist, and racist knowledges.
Positioning the scrapbook as a form of arts-based critical scholarly inquiry, then, is a political act. Autoperformance projects, like scrapbooking, move us towards inclusive, “democratized art practice[s]” and, as Michael S. Bowman and Ruth Laurion Bowman argue, work “against the capture of art by concepts of genius and specialization.”13 Ronald J. Pelias and James VanOosting observe that performance studies practitioners resist the “artistic imperialism” of the art–culture system by “rejecting canonical security and exclusionary conventions,” creating a “radically democratic and counterelitist” scholarly paradigm.14 Employing this gendered form to investigate pedagogical practice makes aesthetic and epistemological value-claims about both the form (which performs care) and the subject (labor that cares-for, itself gendered feminine).
In the following sections, I outline the conceptual and logistical structure of American Expedition and discuss the implementation of the scrapbook as student research project. I then posit scrapbooking as a generative method of pedagogical reflexivity that allows me to investigate otherwise neglected aspects of my caring relations with students. After outlining the history of scrapbooking as a method of critical inquiry relevant to tourism practice, I discuss emergent themes and insights generated through scrapbooking my experiences as teacher of American Expedition. This project contributes to research on pedagogy and tourism as embodied practices in critical and performance-oriented disciplines. And, optimistically, I imagine this project as a movement towards developing a critical tourism practice informed by an ethic of care and contributing to a pedagogy of hope.
American Expedition interrogates, troubles, and celebrates the constitutive and transformative potentials of tourism. Following Orvar Löfgren, I position tourism “as a cultural laboratory where people [are] able to experiment with new aspects of their identities, their social relations, [and] their interactions with nature.”15 Students are asked to reflexively perform tourist as we journey to and move in/through Yosemite National Park. This kind of experimentation can, as Löfgren notes, facilitate a “new awareness of the body” and offers opportunities for “stretching old rules or even transgressing them.”16 The importance of a performance perspective in studying tourism is that it understands tourists as people who are engaging in particular practices as opposed to types of people; a performance perspective shifts the emphasis of inquiry to practice (doing/acting together) rather than character (being). Most importantly, a performance perspective reinvests the tourist with agency and makes visible opportunities to change harmful and destructive practices often associated with tourism (claiming/naming, controlling, removing, modifying).
Prior to departing for YNP, students spend four weeks in a traditional classroom exploring how wilderness has been imagined, constructed, and used in American culture. According to outdoor education scholars Phillip G. Payne and Brian Watchow, the approach to nature by educators as “a universalised and abstract space called ‘the wilderness’” that exists “outside of time,” and is characterized by “the absence of humanity” has been particularly problematic.17 Through primary texts (such as the works of John Muir, Albert Bierstadt, and Theodore Roosevelt) and secondary materials (including Roderick Nash, John Sears, and Marguerite Shaffer), students investigate wilderness as contextually bound, a social construction that tangibly manifests as place through particular practices and performances. “Nature” was and is often constructed through the discourse of colonialism as a place to prove one's mettle, hone and demonstrate survival skills, and escape the perceived drudgery and intemperate life of the city. Accompanying this discourse are notions of claiming and controlling space/place. Combined with the well-established tourist metaphors of exploration, discovery, and conquest, an outdoor education course like American Expedition has the potential to perpetuate sexist/classist/racist ideologies and oppressive practices (including imperialist nostalgia18), a possibility of which I am acutely aware and to which I deliberately attend.
While YNP is (re)constituted as place through various practices, central to the site's mode of existence as place is the practice of tourism. Pau Obrador Pons, emphasizing the importance of mobility and interaction to tourism practice, writes: “movement in tourism is not only a requirement to arrive at places, it is a way of inhabiting and apprehending them.”19 Through studying tourism, we see that places are “particular articulations of flows and assemblages constituted by [and] through internal and external relations.”20 Sites of tourism are processual and contingent, invested and inscribed with cultural, social, and political meanings. The human-made infrastructure of YNP, along with the dramatic and varied geography and ancient, glaciated geology,21 participate in myriad performances of identity, relationships, values, and histories. Beyond its geographical being, contends Tim Cresswell, place is also “a way of seeing, knowing and understanding the world.” Yi-Fu Tuan claims “places are centers of felt value,” while Edward S. Casey theorizes place as experience (an encountering or undergoing; an action).22 Place, then, is a performance, a way of knowing; place is epistemic—it is “part of the way we see, research, and write.”23 Through the performance of tourism, students directly participate in place-making—the construction and performance of Yosemite National Park as meaning-filled place.
Performing tourist at YNP is intended to inspire a deepening sense of the contested and emergent history of YNP as place. As Joseph Roach suggests, through the place-making practice of tourism, students can explore how history “is performed in the present by [museum exhibits, ranger-guided tours, and commercial outlets] that make claims on both the past and the future.”24 Margaret Werry is optimistic about tourism's critical, generative potential as a pedagogic tool.25 She relates it to Paolo Freire's and bell hooks's imaginations of critical pedagogy—“democratizing, dialogic, humanizing”—and calls on tourism scholars to “theorize the grounds for a critical tourism practice.”26 American Expedition posits that a critical tourism practice must be grounded in critical performative pedagogy. Performance as a critical method affects what Pineau describes as an “imaginative leap into other kinds of bodies, other ways of being in the world” that creates opportunities “for resistance, reform, and renewal.”27 Tracy Stephenson Shaffer offers a performer-centered approach to tourism research that privileges the lived experiences and bodies of tourists. In calling for researchers to “become” tourists themselves, she foregrounds the interpretive and critical agency of the tourist.28 In addition to Stephenson Shaffer, students read works by scholars who position tourism as a performed practice, including Edward Bruner, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and Valerie Casey. On the excursion, students are assigned exercises requiring engagement with other tourists, assessment of display interfaces, and self-reflexivity.29 Visiting YNP while critically inhabiting their tourist personas enables students to experience moments of defamiliarization, making strange the habitual (e.g., tourist habits of photographing, purchasing, and viewing) and calling attention to the everyday bodied practices that are often invisible parts of tourism (e.g., walking, eating, sleeping, urinating/defecating/menstruating, talking, perspiring, dressing, etc.). Through American Expedition, we worked towards establishing a critical tourism practice.
THE SCRAPBOOK ASSIGNMENT
When designing the course, I was committed to expanding students’ understandings of and experience with creative, expressive, and innovative methods of communicating their research findings. Werry, who led a travel-study course focusing on tourism, found that the “conventions of assessment” advanced by the managed university—an institution that positions education as a commodity—“discouraged the critically reflexive process” of students because these conventions position “learning as a transaction.” Her students’ responses were structured by imperatives of commodity consumption and read as “customer satisfaction report[s]” and “opinion survey[s].”30 Payne and Watchow, too, are critical of conventional assignments that require learners to articulate linguistic responses to an experience directly following the completion of the action, leaving no time for the meaning-making processes of an experiencing body.31 With these issues in mind, I chose to employ an arts-based assignment. Leavy writes “arts-based practices are particularly useful for research projects that aim to describe, explore, or discover” and are “attentive to processes.”32 Students were already studying scrapbooks as important forms of aesthetic and expressive culture employed by tourists, so having them construct their own scrapbooks seemed appropriate. Scrapbooking highlights the performativity of tourist practices and can reveal the aesthetic communications that constitute the subject position of tourist. Additionally, scrapbooking is relevant to students’ lives. The travel scrapbook continues to be one of the most popular and widely engaged genres of scrapbooks in the contemporary United States.33
Scrapbooking is a reflexive and recyclical practice that involves memorywork. Scrapbooks are assembled after-the-fact, allowing for reflexivity and analysis, and perform Annette Kuhn's definition of memorywork: a “conscious and purposeful staging of memory [through an] active practice of remembering that takes an inquiring attitude towards the past and the activity of its (re)construction through memory.”34 Marguerite Shaffer, who studied turn-of-the-century scrapbooks created by American tourists, writes, “tourism allowed middle-class Americans to reimagine themselves as active agents within the tourist landscape,” and scrapbooks functioned as a tool for staging and performing these (re)constructed narratives.35 Scrapbooking is a form particularly well-suited to memorywork as it is popularly regarded as an art of memory, an art of ephemera.36 José Esteban Muñoz defines ephemera as “traces, glimmers, residues, and specks” of lived experiences, including memories, whose materiality is palpable, though not necessarily “solid.”37 Ephemera as evidence, according to Muñoz, resists “dominant systems of aesthetic and institutional classification [and] is a mode of proofing and producing arguments” engaged by people challenging the exclusionary conventions of hegemonic institutions.38 Memory is a sensuous, embodied phenomenon that bedfellows with affect, and remembering is a contextually bound, intentional practice—an act of agency—that (re)constitutes memory. Remembering is concerned with shaping how the past is a meaningful antecedent to the present and can move us towards a desirable future—in this case, a critical tourism practice.39 Scrapbooking, then, as a mode of remembering, can perform critical cultural work. It can be, as Henry A. Giroux might say, an act of “insurgent citizenship.”40
In class, I emphasized the practice of scrapbooking as analytical and the product—the scrapbook itself—as performative. Students were required to keep journals (for which I did provided some structure through daily prompts41), take notes on class lectures and readings, and collect material objects. When we returned from YNP, students had a week to assemble their projects.42 I offered students the opportunity to retrieve projects once final grades were submitted and, to my astonishment, most came to collect their scrapbooks. While their attachment to their works serves as a testament to the personal significance of this kind of project, it also leaves me with few examples to analyze.43 What I am able to discern from the remaining projects is that student interpretations of the experience strongly echo the warnings I leveled and the interpretive comments I made during class sessions and throughout the semester. Specifically, student works point to the contagion of my fear.
Fear is an affective response that deeply shaped my teaching and shapes my scrapbooking. Fear permeated every decision, every move I made on all three trips. I feared for students’ safety. In certain moments—the slippery “stairs” to Vernal Fall, passing an oncoming vehicle along the narrow road with the two-thousand-foot drop-off, reaching Nevada Fall as a lightning storm approached, losing Shannon on the mountain—fear amplified to almost-debilitating terror. What if I lost a student? What if someone was seriously injured? What if they died? The weight of responsibility was crushing. My concern for students’ intellectual engagement was suspended the moment we boarded the plane. The primary course objective became survival.
My fear was transmitted to students via our Health and Safety sessions, the Safety Quiz they were all required to pass, and the stories I told about deaths in YNP.44 Park informational materials reinforced this fear, instructing “What to do if …” and stressing precaution. Students’ works echo these warnings and level judgements at tourists not moving with appropriate fear. Initially, I was gratified they had taken seriously my warnings and internalized my cynical, critical academic perspective. After all, we survived and they produced sufficiently insightful projects. But as I scrapbook these moments, I am troubled by the extent of my influence on student engagement and interpretation. Were students trying to demonstrate they had the acceptable experience by echoing my comments? Were they seeking my “expert” approval to “certify their experience[s] as genuine”?45 Have I created what Walker Percy would label an “educational package” that disposes of Yosemite, of tourism, of nature by positioning YNP as a specimen of place-making?46 Have I divested students of their sovereignty as knowers? Possibly.
SCRAPBOOKING AS METHOD OF PEDAGOGICAL REFLEXIVITY
When contemplating how best to investigate and articulate the meanings of my bodied and affective experiences teaching American Expedition, including my own performance of tourist, I returned to the scrapbook assignment for inspiration. I was seeking a method of pedagogical reflexivity that allows space to consider my biological, aesthetic, and emotional—as well as intellectual—needs and responses; a method that Nathan Stucky and Cynthia Wimmer would recognize as attending to my well-being by enabling a “sense of play, experimentation, exploration, and humor.”47 While scrapbooking is not an activity in which I had previously engaged, I am convinced of its relevance to tourism and its generative and transformative potentials, especially the capacity to act subversively on the traditions and subjects to which it attends.
In addition to its critical potential, the practice of scrapbooking cultivates caring, and scrapbooks, themselves, perform care and document instances of caring-for.48 Noting that the “theme of caring permeates” the practice and discourse of scrapbooking, Tamar Katriel and Thomas Farrell write: “the very making of the scrapbook is an indication of ‘caring’ about oneself, about significant others, and about the very shape of one's life.”49 Scrapbooks, however, are often associated with what Lisa Goldstein would characterize as the “gentle smiles and warm hugs” connotation of care that uncritically locates care as an element of a person's character as opposed to an intellectually and affectively conscious act.50 Caring, as defined through feminist moral theory, is a performance of what Nel Noddings refers to as a moral and intellectual relation; it is a deliberate and intellectual act of feeling with and responding to the Other in a way that gives primacy to the Other's expressed needs and goals.51 Scrapbooking as a critical, pedagogically reflexive practice is an act of caring-for my students.
Through experimenting with scrapbooking as a method of critical inquiry and pedagogical reflexivity, I can examine otherwise overlooked elements of my caring relations with students. For instance, in response to the expressed student need for reduced cost on two of the trips, I relinquished having my own cabin to bunk with two female students. Meeting students’ needs for social interaction and reassurance while managing my own desire for privacy was stressful; having to also share physical space exacerbated my anxiety (clothing, medications, and toiletries all easily accessible and available for scrutiny). Sharing space also prevented me from sleeping on one trip as one of the students with whom I was bunking snored—loudly. Additionally, I was plagued with insecurity and worry about the students’ experiences: how did students feel about sharing space with me, the teacher? Were the savings in cost worth their compromised privacy? Do I snore? The scrapbook as performative autoethnography allows me to play in and with the gaps between affect and analysis, to explore creatively the nuances of these strange, messy, chaotic moments in ways that, as Anthony Burke would say, “open space for insights that [I do] not yet have,” insights that may “bubble up from the [un]conscious or from sudden juxtapositions” of ephemera.52
History of the Scrapbook
To employ an aesthetic form as a mode of arts-based research, Leavy says we must “learn the rules and tradition” from which we are borrowing.53 The process of scrapbooking requires the selection of events/subjects/topics to include in a scrapbook, and through selection the scrapbooker exercises agency, making critical, interventionist decisions in the (re)presentation of a subject. The form of the scrapbook—the clippings, fragments, and notations—makes apparent the processes of selection and discrimination involved in this genre of narrative inquiry. The scrapbook as form employs the aesthetics of collage54 and assemblage, presenting carefully cropped photographs, images, mementos, and ephemera alongside labels and descriptions, anecdotes, journaling, quotes, and commercially-produced embellishments. Techniques of assembly include overlapping images and texts; “enjambing”55 or layering images by pasting the edge of only one side of one text over another so that the top text swings open like a door on its jamb; S. Alexander Gumby's “loose-leaf” approach that allows for expansion and reorganization;56 placing full texts in sleeves and envelopes; employing hidden techniques that limit access to materials to those people in-the-know; and the radical recontextualization of words, phrases, and images.
Scrapbooking, as an identifiable aesthetic practice, can be dated to the eighteenth century. The methods that characterize scrapbooking are rooted in historical practices of keeping commonplace books, which can be dated to as early as the sixteenth century, and persisted in popularity into the twentieth century. Commonplace books focused on “participation in the common culture”—by educated, wealthy, influential men—through hand-copying excerpts from important cultural texts and organizing those excerpts under topical headings.57 Commonplace books are distinguished from scrapbooks primarily by the handwritten copies of quoted materials in commonplace books and the snips of mass-produced print materials in scrapbooks. While it is unclear to what extent actual practitioners of commonplacing and scrapbooking differentiated their practices from one another, the forms developed distinct reputations in American culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, reputations articulated within the parameters of masculine/feminine, authentic/commercial, and elite/popular.
Scrapbooking achieved widespread popularity in the mid-nineteenth century as the emerging middle class embraced mass-market print materials made possible by advancements in printing and mass production. Technological advancements, especially in transportation, were simultaneously making possible middle-class participation in tourism. As tourism transformed from a practice reserved for the socioeconomically elite to a popular phenomenon embraced by the middle classes, so too did the forms of travel narrative shift from journals and diaries to scrapbooks. Travel journals and diaries were associated with the aristocracy and were markers of highbrow experience (i.e., literacy, cosmopolitan, refined taste), while scrapbooking was associated with the middling classes and was a marker of lowbrow experience (i.e., commercial, provincial, unrefined taste). This distinction was in large part based on the perception of commercialism and mass production as pedestrian and vulgar by the social elite. Travel journals and diaries were elevated forms because, like commonplace books, their creation required education and cultural literacy, the ability to write, and a perceived originality achieved through the physical traces of the author (the author's handwriting performed authority through presence).
Elite perceptions aside, both commonplace books and scrapbooks were commercially produced and marketed to targeted demographics; commonplace books were gendered masculine and scrapbooks feminine, even while the actuality of the practices (at least scrapbooking) contradicted this association.58 The commonplace book, according to Amy Mecklenburg-Faenger, was “gendered masculine through its association with systems of rhetorical education, systems that prepared men for public life.”59 The Aristotelian indexing system of organization employed in commonplace books was particularly important to the status of commonplacing as intellectually rigorous.60 Scrapbooking, in contrast, was characterized in marketing materials as a sentimental exercise that lacked meaningful organization and was best suited to the domestic sphere.61 Popular media also contributed to this association, employing the rhetoric of separate spheres (public/private) to frame the practices (commonplacing/scrapbooking) and assign cultural value through classification of their modes of communication (educative/gossipy). By the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, scholars of literary criticism were employing the term scrapbook to insult literary works they deemed of poor quality. In an effort to combat this maligning of the practice of scrapbooking, enthusiasts published articles and prescriptive literature asserting the value of scrapbooks as domestic tools, a means of facilitating women's fulfillment of their ascribed roles and responsibilities in the private sphere.62 These efforts, however, only reinforced popular understandings of scrapbooks as feminine and women as domestic. “The more scrapbooks became associated with women and children,” notes Mecklenburg-Faenger, “the less ‘valuable’ the genre seemed to be.”63
Mecklenburg-Faenger argues convincingly that the disparaging of scrapbooks was related to the “anxiety many people had about women's literacy practices.”64 According to Debora Lui, the practice of scrapbooking provided young American women in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries “avenues—otherwise not afforded to them—to archive and legitimize their personal narratives.”65 Indeed, women engaged in scrapbooking practices that troubled and disrupted normative gender roles. Shaffer notes that women's touring scrapbooks demonstrate their resistance to social restrictions and gender norms inflicted by patriarchy. In their travel scrapbooks, women reimagined themselves as “heroic figures” who were in control of their own stories.66 Similar to Kristin M. Langellier's characterization of the cultural practice of Show-and-Tell in quiltmaking, scrapbooking is an “oppositional practice” that allows scrapbookers to “maneuver within the constraints of femininity [and] may resist the imposition of values” from hegemonic discourses.67 For instance, in the antebellum United States, freeborn African American women, according to Jasmine Cobb, “asserted black womanhood as legible” by appropriating conventions associated with white womanhood, including scrapbooks, which were marketed to literate, middle-class and elite white Americans.68 The practice of scrapbooking allowed African American women to claim a space for black womanhood within popular Sentimental discourse, an arena from which they were otherwise excluded.69 Sentimentalism offered a variety of forms of power and visibility to upper-class white women by depicting them as “true” women, the heroines of the home.70 Free black women, omitted from the rhetoric of true womanhood, commandeered scrapbooks as a tactic of resistance, a mainstream medium through which they constructed and publicly performed themselves as true women.71 Scrapbooking was and is a political practice.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, in spite of the transgressive potential of scrapbook making, the gerund scrapbooking referred to a widely-popular, gendered practice of self-narration often lampooned in social commentary and popular culture. Scrapbooks as cultural products and scrapbooking as a meaningful cultural practice have been relegated to the scholarly margins, characterized in recent scholarship as “a private autobiographical practice so ubiquitous as to be off critical radar screens.”72 This marginalization is arguably due, at least in part, to the gendering of scrapbooking as a feminine practice. Scrapbooks have been characterized as “tasteless kitsch” by the media and academia, and consigned to a category of cultural products and practices deemed provincial, fatuous, and vapid, along with other practices associated with homemaking.73 Christensen examines the critiques of scrapbooks and scrapbooking advanced by arbiters of culture, including academics (and especially ethnographers), who question the aesthetic and intellectual value of forms of “commodity-mediated representation[s] of ‘real life.’”74 These cultural critics who, informed by the “modern art-culture system,” venerate the rare, singular, exotic, and inaccessible as fine art, discard mass-produced, commercial materials as worthless and trite.75 In a similar vein to critiques of tourists, scrapbookers have been stereotyped as “aesthetically immature” dupes who fall for the siren-song of advertisers or are puppets whose purse-strings are expertly pulled by commercial interests.76 In Scrapbooks, Jessica Helfand offers the first history of American scrapbooks, valorizing scrapbooks from the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as authentic, creative works of art while chiding contemporary scrapbookers as attention-seeking amateurs whose works are “primitive by objective standards” in large part due to their use of purchased embellishments that serve only as “extraneous decoration.”77 Like tourists, the practitioners of scrapbooking have been typed, with outsider assessments focusing on the kinds of people who scrapbook (their supposed character) as opposed to the practice itself. Focusing on tourism and scrapbooking as practices rather than tourists and scrapbookers as types of people (character) destabilizes unproductive binaries and resists what Renato Rosaldo points to as the “cultivation of ideology [through] attributions of character.”78
As Christensen encourages, scholars must remember the motivations of and practices employed by scrapbookers are separate from and not determined by the stereotypes of scrapbooking perpetuated through mainstream and academic media. We must attend to the differences between the current trends articulated by marketing and sales and the actual, lived practices of people. For instance, Kristin Gilger responds to critiques regarding commodification of experience by emphasizing that scrapbook makers appropriate “the materials of capitalism” by “cutting [them] up … and turning them into gifts to themselves.”79 Indeed, this appropriation and alteration can be understood as what Michel de Certeau calls a tactic of resistance or a tactic of living in an increasingly commodity-oriented, neoliberal society.80 The selection and arrangement of commercially-produced embellishments can serve as a mode of critical engagement, dramatizing commodity fetishism, pointing to tensions between elite/popular, and making visible sociocultural codes that structure interpretations of experiences.
In my scrapbooking practice, I found commercially-produced embellishments particularly useful as I interrogated my compulsion to “capture” our experiences through photography. While I had expressly encouraged students to be conscious of how technologies like phones and cameras functioned in mediating their engagement with environments, I was constantly overcome with a need to photograph everything. Embellishments allow me, in my scrapbooking practice, to dramatize the tensions between my compulsion to photograph, awareness of the tourist stereotype (a camera perpetually hanging from my neck), fear of the fallibility of my memory, and my own mandate to be present. They also enable a particular kind of play. Perusing the scrapbooking aisle at the Arts & Crafts store, I was energized by the sensuousness of colors, textures, and lines, thrilling to connections I was making between these bits and my experiences. I played with symbolism and metaphor, exclamation and invective, dissonance and emphasis, parody and satire. And I spent too much money. When I returned home with my carefully selected cache of commodities and began cutting, positioning, framing, and juxtaposing my ephemera, the form of play deepened—the process induced meditation and analysis.
I am surprised by the continued vividness of some of my affective responses. For instance, the powerful sense of embarrassment I felt (and still feel) at having to urinate in public and in proximity of students. Out of necessity, I was required to teach my female students how to urinate on our hiking excursions. The result of staying appropriately hydrated is that we needed to pee every couple of hours. Ignoring this bodily function on the 2011 trip resulted in a student becoming “lost” on the mountain. Her need to urinate caused her embarrassment and severe physical discomfort, so she left the group (without telling us) to seek a bathroom. For subsequent trips, I included in our safety preparations a lesson on How to Pop-a-Squat and faced the inevitable question: What about toilet paper? To which I responded, in order to leave-no-trace, we must shimmy and shake. The tutorial had unexpected results: several female students were so enchanted by the novelty and freedom of peeing “like boys” that they practiced the pop-a-squat even when we were not on trails. While some students embraced this practice, I was constantly embarrassed by baring my buttocks so close to students.
In discussing affect as it “animates and materializes social process in the classroom,” Margaret Werry and Róisín O'Gorman call pedagogues to “hold open the processes of affective experience, to dwell in and on them in the state of flux, discontinuity, and vulnerability that they engender.”81 I try to hold open and dwell in the embarrassment, but without much luck. I turn to Pineau, who offers a poignant discussion of addressing her (female) body's biological needs/functions in the classroom. But while I consciously agree with Pineau's assertion that ignoring these functions in the classroom compromises learning and understanding—losing Shannon on the mountain is proof positive—I still struggle to reconcile my affective response with my intellectual conclusion.82 And I cringe at the thought of someday having to teach students the proper way to empty their bowels outdoors (FYI: dig a hole, and if you wipe, carry out your waste).
While I haven't made much progress with embarrassment, I have been able to explore productively the effects of my fear. After scrapbooking several pages, I noticed an emergent aesthetic: ordered, neat, measured, controlled. Through the process of scrapbooking, I was managing and controlling experiences that, when lived in the moment, had felt chaotic, dangerous, and far beyond my control. Scrapbooking allows me to safely hold open and dwell on fear as it animated and materialized thoughts, decisions, and actions in our YNP classroom. For example, I discovered one of the ways fear materialized in my actions was through posturing. Upon reviewing the thousands of photographs accumulated on our trips, I noticed I had habitually arranged my body in “heroic” poses claiming strength, competency, bravery, daring, even while (and possibly because) I was constantly overwhelmed by fear, including fear of my inadequacy performing teacher. Dwelling in and on that fear through scrapbooking permits me to see the ways I was unconsciously drawing upon and (re)producing the narratives I was attempting to trouble. In reimagining/staging myself as a heroic figure in control of her own story, I was performing a particularly narrow, masculine iteration of “brave explorer” that inadvertently modeled problematic tourist practices (domination, claiming, conquest, egocentrism). Scrapbooking my experiences teaching American Expedition enables a depth of self-reflexivity that I did not achieve in the moment of experience, generating valuable insights into how affect affects my pedagogical practice, as well as my tourism practice.
Travel opens spaces for exploring relational and sociocultural performances constitutive of place, tourism, and pedagogy. The processes involved in traveling with students poke at and trouble the constitution of the teacher–student relationship while making visible practices often neglected in conversations about tourism and education (e.g., bodily functions). Scrapbooking has, historically, been used as a method of understanding and narrating tourism/travel experiences. This project positions scrapbooking as a suitable mode of inquiry into the experience of taking/teaching a travel-study course that articulates place as performance and tourism as a (potentially) critical practice. Framing scrapbooking and tourism—“intersections where people actually live their lives”—as critical performative practices operates, as Giroux might say, through “the terrain of culture and education to actually intervene in the world.”83 Because the analysis and synthesis central to the practice of scrapbooking ultimately affect its subjects, scrapbooking students’ and my experiences performing tourist at Yosemite National Park can move us towards a critical tourism practice and, hopefully, a better world.
Scrapbooking is an aesthetic, critical, and caring narrative practice. Shaffer writes of nineteenth-century tourist-scrapbookers: “in arranging and binding these visual and verbal memories into a coherent product … [tourists were] borrowing from, responding to, imitating, and adding to a wide array of cultural texts and stories” that intersect with and inform the practice of tourism.84 Scrapbookers are aware of the discourses within which they are working (family, home, education, travel, etc.) and of the public roles of their works, as well as the claims-value they are making through the display of their works. Scrapbook makers have, as Anne Blue Wills observes, extended the conventions and tools of scrapbooking beyond their marketed applications. Not only are scrapbook makers “keeping” memories by creating meaningful narratives, they are also employing the practice as a tool to explore and “understand more complex, more ambiguous… narratives about others’ and their own lives.”85 In this project, I experiment with scrapbooking as a performative autoethnographic method of inquiry that allows the researcher–teacher of tourism to attend to her body as evidence in ways that can productively contribute to discourses of education and tourism. The scrapbook as performative autoethnography can reveal and challenge what Spry might refer to as the understories of tourism and higher education or Pineau's “covert curriculum,” that reify certain articulations of power.86 For instance, the discovery of my heroic posturing reveals the continued influence of patriarchal principles—an understory of both tourism and higher education—on my understandings/enactments of bravery, leadership, and exploration in the classroom.
There are, however, limitations to the scrapbook as shareable research product: the form of the scrapbook, its materiality, is critical to the meaning produced in/through the practices of creating and audiencing the scrapbook.87 Publication of the scrapbook, whether conventionally or digitally, flattens the text, closes its invitational quality,88 and prevents it from offering a synesthetic experience. The scrapbook further loses its intimacy as it undergoes the necessary transformations for scholarly publication.89 Although the limitations of dissemination are significant, as a method of pedagogical reflexivity, scrapbooking can be a generative practice that enables conscious teaching by cultivating what Stucky and Wimmer describe as “a heightened awareness of methods, attitudes, hidden curricula, postures, and inflections” as it feeds the soul of the pedagogue.90 Thus, scrapbooking permits me to attend to my affective responses in the American Expedition classroom and enlightens my current efforts to care-for students. It offers the potential to (re)imagine my pedagogy, allowing me to narrate my past experiences (including the neuroses, errors, and failures) as meaningful antecedents to a future when I am able to realize a version of holistic, liberatory pedagogy.