Teachers and Teaching: Subjectivity, performativity and the body

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (2):178-192 (2011)
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It has become almost commonplace to recognise that teaching is an embodied practice. Most analyses of teaching as embodied practice focus on the embodied nature of the teacher as subject. Here, we use Butler's concept of performativity to analyse the reiterated acts that are intelligible as—performatively constitute—teaching, rather of the teacher as subject. We suggest that this simultaneously helps explain the persistence of teaching as a narrow repertoire of actions recognisable as ‘teaching’, and the policing of conformity to teaching thus embodied. However, like performatively accomplished subjectivity, this repertoire is unstable and ambiguous, and thus open to change and disruption. Moreover, teacher subjectivities may lead them to mobilise these possibilities of disruption



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