The Power of Testimonio Pedagogy: Teaching Chicana Lesbian Fiction in a Chicana Feminisms Course at a Predominantly White Institution in the Midwest

  • Tanya Diaz-Kozlowski Illinois State University
Keywords: Chicana/Latina feminist pedagogies, testimonio pedagogy, Chicana lesbian fiction, Chicana feminisms


In this essay I extend Chicana/Latina feminist pedagogies to demonstrate using testimonio pedagogy to teach Chicana lesbian fiction: Gulf Dreams and What Night Brings opened up dialogical spaces for students as pensadores to critically examine the impact of racialized gender and sexual normativity within Chicano culture. Exploring the significance of students as pensadores using testimonio pedagogy cultivates pathways of epistemic disobedience that should be understood as responses to institutional power. I suggest testimonio pedagogy mediates marginalization by breaking down the false dichotomy between students and teachers, cultivates feminist consciousness-raising, and refuses hegemonic conceptualizations of schooling.

Author Biography

Tanya Diaz-Kozlowski, Illinois State University

Tanya Diaz-Kozlowski uses she|ella pronouns and is the Assistant Director and Adviser of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Illinois State University. She has taught and developed courses on Chicana feminisms, Latinx popular culture, queer and transgender theory, and gender, sex, and power. She is a teacher scholar writer who is grounded by her use of testimonio pedagogy, U.S. Women of Color feminisms, and Chicana/Latina feminist pedagogies. She earned her doctorate in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a minor in Latina/o Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015.