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Author ORCID Identifier
Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Sally Campbell Silverman
Critical and Cultural Studies | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Linguistic Anthropology | Social Justice | Social Media
I explore the ideologies of gender, language and education in conservative, Christian Nationalist, and White nationalist mothers groups. I draw on my own family history, as well as on two years of blended ethnographic research in online right wing communities and one year of fieldwork in New Orleans, Louisiana, to look at homeschooling, online schools, and public teachers’ social, linguistic, and educational practices -- what I call Alt-Education. Alt-education is of course a play on alt-right, and refers to the far-right ideology; but it also refers to an alternative to mainstream education, and to education through a broader range of materials and practices such as popular or media education. Alt-education is the ensemble of practices that conservative groups use to educate. It is who teaches, what is taught, how, and how education is discussed. It is how motherhood and femininity shape what is a good teacher. It is how female submission and white male heroism are transformed into facts, and how they are taught through creative and “natural pedagogy.” Last is the ideologies of education, the ways in which its value and practice are understood and used politically. In the first findings chapter, I focus on gender: the ideology of womanhood as motherhood, and mother as natural teacher, and the ways these can link our everyday media use with the fringes of the far-right. Next, I explore education: their opposition between mother and school, and between natural pedagogy and socialist indoctrination.In the third and final findings chapter, I explore far-right curriculum: the world as god’s story, language as a battle for the beautiful, and men as history’s heroes. In between each chapter I include auto-ethnographic “anti-biographies” which draw on my multiple and shifting positionalities as a White woman who grew up with the same kind of alt-education I describe in this text. In the conclusion, I look at the ways in which this conceptual framework helps trace the mainstreaming of far-right ideas, and can be applied to research on misinformation that has become crucial to efforts from public education to public health. Finally, I call for more critical and thoughtful research on the right, one that avoids tropes of the ignorant slack jawed yokel or the wild eyed fundamentalist, and recognizes its intersections with the mainstream.
Tebaldi, Catherine, "Alt-Education: Gender, language, and education across the right" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations. 2490.