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Methods on the Margins? Queer Theory as Method in Higher Education Research

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research

ISBN: 978-1-78190-682-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-683-5

Publication date: 26 September 2013


Queer theory is a form of critical analysis that aims to destabilize hegemonic discourses around sex, sexuality and gender, particularly in relation to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. This discursive chapter focuses on how queer theory, when transformed into method, or queering, provides a more embodied and holistic understanding of student learning in higher education. It notes that, whilst queering has become an applied method in some areas of higher education research, it has yet to address the phenomena behind university students’ sexual orientation and a more general orientation towards or away from study and learning. Core to such a method is: a four-dimensional paradigm for understanding the power of dominant discourses related to the body and orientations to learning – performance, performativity, materiality, and incorporeality; explorations of orientations towards or away from learning in which sexually influenced pleasure/shame amplifies those orientations; and longitudinal narrative enquiry.



Our thanks go especially to: Susan Carter, University of Auckland, for encouraging commentary; Chris’ research participants; and members of Glasgow University’s LGBTQ+ students association, who make thinking about learning so much fun.


Gunn, V. and McAllister, C. (2013), "Methods on the Margins? Queer Theory as Method in Higher Education Research", Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 155-174.



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