Forging queer feminist futures through discomfort: vulnerability and authority in the classroom

Órla Meadhbh Murray, Lisa Kalayji


This article explores how to do queer intersectional feminist teaching through the two authors’ autoethnographic reflections on our own teaching experience in UK higher education alongside queer and feminist pedagogy literature. We argue that central to queer intersectional feminist teaching is the negotiation of various discomforts in the classroom, whether discomfort is deliberately used as a pedagogical tool or it arises spontaneously and must be dealt with. However, it is a delicate and imperfect balancing act to negotiate competing aims and emotions in the classroom, whether they be ours as teachers or those of our students. The paper will focus on two key negotiations: ‘coming out’ and negotiating authority and privilege in the university classroom. Firstly, we will explore how to negotiate vulnerability in the classroom, particularly through using personal stories and ‘coming out’ as queer and as traumatised as a pedagogical tool. Secondly, we will explore how to acknowledge students’ own expertise and experiential knowledge, challenging the idea of the teachers as the only experts in the classroom, alongside the seemingly contradictory use of our position of power to challenge privilege in the classroom. These contribution to our overall argument that such queer feminist negotiations take time, something we are short of in the neoliberal university. Through these complex negotiations, we explore the challenges of prefiguring transformed feminist futures while navigating the less-feminist neoliberal present.


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ISSN: ISSN 2398-5836

Copyright (c) 2018 Órla Meadhbh Murray, Lisa Kalayji