Re-envisioning sexuality education in Aotearoa New Zealand: thinking with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s aesthetic education to queer the field (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
This study situates itself in relation to on-going conversations about the future of sexuality education in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is philosophical and literary in its emphasis, even as it concerns itself with policy analysis and critique.
In response to concerns that school-based sexuality education in New Zealand finds itself in somewhat of a stuck place, this thesis looks to the possibilities opened up for sexuality education by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s aesthetic education—a pedagogical orientation and practice which deploys literary reading in an effort to train the imagination to know differently, thereby, bringing about a sustained and uncoercive rearrangement of desires. By thinking closely with Spivak’s aesthetic education—and by supplementing it with Leo Bersani’s conceptualization of sex as a modality of the aesthetic, including the choreographic—this thesis theorizes sexuality education in ways that seek to move it beyond the perspectives of physical education, health and wellbeing, to which historically it has been tied. In doing so, the thesis re-envisions sexuality education as a utopically focussed field—one which by positioning queerness as ‘horizon’ nurtures the potential to desire differently, more, and better.
As it explores Spivakian approaches to literary reading, this study draws upon the work of a number of philosophers, mainly from the Continental tradition, as well as queer, cultural, educational, literary, and literacy theorists, who prompt and inform reparative readings of a number of literary texts—most by queer cis male New Zealand authors. When, in the course of this thesis, literary texts are read alongside and athwart policy and review documents of the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office, it is in the hopeful/hopeless expectation that ‘something’ queer might result from a proximity that always inclines towards conceptual cross-hatching.