Queer(y)ing the subject of queer theory

Year: 2013

Author: Gowlett, Christina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This presentation seeks to open up discussion about, and argue in favour of, the utility of queer theory beyond the arena of gender and sexualities research. I see queer theory – or what I like to call ‘queer(y)ing’ – as a mode of inquiry that unsettles boundaries, thus making it a useful methodological approach that can be used in a variety of education contexts. While I believe there are many varieties of ‘queer(y)ing’, the version I draw upon in this presentation is predominantly inspired by the work of Judith Butler.
Queer theory has a long tradition of being associated with gender and sexualities research. This association has, from my perspective, heavily shaped the normative understandings about using queer theory. In this presentation, I want to destabilise some of these assumptions and provide possibilities for doing queer theoretical research in ways that are different to the normative assumptions in circulation about it, in particular, the object and subject of analysis. I will provide examples of ways I have ‘queeried’ within the research domains of career counselling and education policy more generally. Importantly, this presentation will also discuss issues resulting from this cross-fertilisation and thus speak more generally about the place of theory in education research and what can happen when its foundations are destabilised.