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Using Queer Theory to Read the Hushing of Boys’ Reading: “A Thought of a Method” of Queer Educational Ethnography

New Directions in Educational Ethnography

ISBN: 978-1-78441-624-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-623-2

Publication date: 17 December 2016


This chapter explores queer theory as a “thought of a method” in educational ethnography by sharing stories of two third grade boys and situating them in a discussion of Britzman’s ideas about reading and Butler’s notion of fantasy. The stories are presented as a possible queer educational ethnography, in which the ethnographer writes the fantastic narrative of the boys as they read creatively to reveal and unsettle gender and reading as sites of constraint to which other constraints adhere. The boys’ reading itself is a queer reading of these constraints and as such makes alterity visible and possible. The study and the methodological framework suggest that educational ethnographers and other adults who work in schools should become attuned to the markers of constraint and alterity, so as to recognize, shelter, and maintain the alterity that children make possible. The chapter asserts children must be allowed to read for alterity, and shows how fantastic narratives that emerge from such readings are limited by the hushing of individuals who disallow alterity in classrooms. Ultimately, this chapter is relevant to ethnographers of education in that it suggests that queer theory not only is necessary to narrate and thus shelter the ways that gender can and should be unsettled in classrooms, but also allows us to narrate and shelter other queer urgencies related to fear, violence, and vulnerability that children experience or share in classrooms. Implications for the current climate of school reform based on standardization of curriculum are also discussed.



Bower, A. (2016), "Using Queer Theory to Read the Hushing of Boys’ Reading: “A Thought of a Method” of Queer Educational Ethnography", New Directions in Educational Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 35-64.



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