The Potentialities of Post-essentialist Pedagogy

By Vicki-Anne Crowley and Cassandra Loeser.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper makes the argument that the notion of post-essentialism provides a resource for accommodating the multiple strands of intervention that have been brought to questions of the body and embodiment over the past two decades. Post-essentialism is explored as a multiplicity of theoretical interventions able to raise questions about the materiality of performing bodies, the interconnections between material and somatic bodies, and the larger issues of representation and cultural location. Post-essentialist approaches enable all bodies and identities to be investigated as strategically built and apprehended and interpreted by different people in different ways. The paper will demonstrate how a post-essentialist approach used for theorising, conceptualising and analysing the body in a university course simultaneously advocates a different and diverse pedagogic practice. The notion of post-essentialism pursued emerges from teaching the course “Hot Bodies, Cool Flesh, Sex, Race and the Visual Body” to a relatively liberal and ‘mainstream’ Bachelor and Honours student cohort in a university in a regional city in Australia. This pedagogical approach effects a movement out of disciplinary boundaries and the constraints of their resources and into a broad range of texts and performances. The course engages with sex work and sex workers, death, HIV AIDS, dance and disability, not as curiosity or site of normative and moral assertion, but in terms of pleasure, abjection, desire and potentialities. From this, it is proposed that post-essentialism provides a pedagogical practice and a critical tool of theoretical, conceptual and material intervention for any engagement beyond the normative, especially so in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary team teaching contexts.

Keywords: Post-Essentialism, Pedagogy, Bodies and Embodiment

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 7, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.153MB).

Dr. Vicki-Anne Crowley

Senior Lecturer, Education, Arts & Social Sciences, School of Communication, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Cassandra Loeser

Academic Development Research Education, Academic, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cassandra Loeser works in the role of academic developer research education at the University of South Australia. She creates and delivers resources, workshops and seminars for higher degree by research supervisors and students. Her research expertise is in the area of masculinity and disability having undertaken her PhD on the ways that young men with hearing disabilities negotiate the sites of recreation and sport, the arts, school, and friendship relations. Her research interests also include post-essentialism, gender and sexualities and innovative pedagogies for Honours and research degree supervision. At present she is pursuing research into the supervision of higher degree by research students with disabilities.

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