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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs

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Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.
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Chapter Two: Queer Paranoia: Worrying About and Through a Queer Dissertation Study

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CHAPTER TWO

Queer Paranoia: Worrying About and Through a Queer Dissertation Study

SUMMER PENNELL

 

When I began planning my dissertation, I was always thinking of scholars in the field of queer education. From examining texts on queer pedagogy, and listening to presentations at education conferences, I have noticed the tendency and “the danger of organizing our work along a queer spectrum, where the ‘more queer’ is privileged … over the ‘less queer’ … visible work in classrooms” (DePalma, 2010, p. 55). Despite queer theory’s disdain of hierarchies, sometimes they are present in the field as scholars judge whose work is worthy. I was worried that my work in a middle school classroom would fall into the less queer category. Would my study demonstrate I was worthy of inclusion in this group of scholars? Would it be queer enough for them? Had I been misinterpreting queer theory and queer pedagogy, and would I be looked down upon when I presented my work at conferences?

I was paranoid, and this paranoia continued throughout the execution and analysis of my study, and it is still present as I write this memoir. Will this chapter prove my greatest academic fears of being unworthy of inclusion? While I was writing my dissertation and looking over my field notes, I noticed I was conducting a “paranoid reading” (Sedgwick, 2003) of my own study. As Miller (1988) wrote, quoted by Sedgwick, “Even the blandest (or...

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