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Joel Wendland

Assistant Professor, Liberal Studies Department

Phone: 331-8192 
Office: 248 Lake Ontario Hall

LIB 301: Interdisciplinary Research Methods
LIB 350: The Immigration Experience in the U.S.
LIB 320: Voices of the Civil Rights Movement
LIB 201: Diversity in the U.S.
LIB 100: Introduction to Liberal Education

Research interests:

Prof. Wendland’s current book project, The Collectivity of Life (released in February 2016 by Lexington Books []), challenges dominant myths of meritocratic individualism through an extensive exploration of spatialized identities constructed in the stories people in the late 20th century U.S. told about themselves. It is a qualitative study of autobiography, self-writing, and oral narratives, which illuminates otherwise sublimated contradictions in individualist mythology of social mobility and establishes the “multidimensionality” of social experiences. Framed by an engagement with Marxian spatial analysis (following Harvey and Lefebvre), this book provides a critical discourse analysis of familiar autobiographical texts such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Audre Lorde’s Zami, as well as of less familiar ones such as Karl Yoneda’s Ganbatte, Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, and Victor Villanueva’s Bootstraps. In connection with this, a careful survey of more than 40 oral histories, offers the conclusion that working-class, left, or radical people in the U.S. have produced a counter-mythology of collective identity and mobility that cultural historians often fail to acknowledge, and that refutes substantively the mythology of meritocratic individualism.

Prof. Wendland is also developing a substantial study on racial formation in West Michigan.


Ph.D. American Studies, Washington State University