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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Kimberlee Peréz

Second Advisor

Stephen Gencarella

Third Advisor

Kirsten Leng

Fourth Advisor

Claudio Moreira

Subject Categories

Other Communication | Other Education | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Performance Studies | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


This research brings together education research, queer theory, and performance theory to consider the worldmaking potential of the queer classroom. Using students’ stories about queerness in the classroom and my own stories about the classroom, I ask what we can learn from students’ voices about how queerness is/can be performed in the classroom and through relations. This study uses critical ethnography, personal narrative, and performative writing to examine the production of subject positions in the classroom, to connect this to a queer theoretical framework, and to explore the worldmaking potential of the classroom. I interviewed seven undergraduate students at a large, public university in New England. Participants identified as LGBTQ+ and had enrolled in at least one Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies course within the past two years. In each chapter, I use my own narratives and utilize a reflexive turn to examine the ways in which I make meaning about experiences with students in the classroom, and I present students’ stories to understand how they are making sense of queerness in the classroom. Analysis attends to the ways that students’ stories are constrained by and resist discourses of queerness, how the broader context of power structures produces and shapes the subject positions available to students, and the limits of possibilities of worldmaking in the classroom, including an imagined narrative of a queer classroom. I argue that the students’ narratives engage in discourses of power in complicated ways that reflect both constraints of discourse and resistance to normalizing processes of discourse, which, in turn, problematizes my own narratives about students’ uses of identity politics and attachment to structures of normativity. I argue that their stories reflect a complex understanding of classroom performances and queerness, and that, ultimately, we as educators should find ways to create the space to engage these performances in our classrooms. In conclusion, I address what we might do with our bodies in a queer classroom, reflecting on my own experiences in the classroom to show how we can struggle with queerness in productive ways.