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Feminist Media Studies


The ideals of democratic education most often rely on a logic of identity that, as Theodor Adorno has argued, denies and represses difference. Young (1987, p. 63) observes that this repression relies on “an opposition between public and private dimensions of human life, which corresponds to an opposition between reason on the one hand, and the body, affectivity, and desire on the other.” This paper examines the private/public dualisms that construct the female teacher's body in the space of schooling. In particular, the paper constructs three scenes: reading student evaluations at the end of term, sweating through class, and a class discussion about identity, to discuss how the female teacher's competence is constructed through discourses of the body. Borrowing partly from Michel Foucault, the essay focuses on the ways discourses assumed to be private (the body) become part of the public space in order to evaluate intellectual competency. In this manner, the rational discursive space of the classroom is maintained through confusing the conformity of the body with the efficiency of the mind. The essay works toward a pedagogical stance that opens up dialogue with and through this female teacher's body. Through drawing attention to how the body performs through (non)conformity, this article hopes to not only deconstruct power/body relations but also offer a means to disrupt them.









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