Subject to Identity

Knowledge, Sexuality, and Academic Practices in Higher Education

By Susan Talburt

Subjects: Higher Education
Series: SUNY series, Identities in the Classroom
Paperback : 9780791445723, 296 pages, March 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445716, 296 pages, March 2000

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Table of contents


1. Haunted Questions, Inhabited Spaces


Seeking to Found a Locatin: The Gay Academic Union
Lesbian Identity Politics: The Limitations of Full Disclosure
Identity into Practice
Intellectual Practice among the Ruins
Delimiting Lesbian Academic Spaces
Entering the Inquiry
Narrative Knowing as Practice


2. Social and Institutional Places and Spaces


Entering Oasis and Liberal U: Island Communities
Finding a Place for Diversity
Centering Gays and Lesbians
Centering Liberal U: "The Circles in Which We Move"
Confessing Sins: The Work of Faculty
Locating Knowledges and Identities


3. Displacing Pedagogical Positionings


Opening Scenes
Im/Personal Pedagogies
Carol: Critical Enlightenment
Cross-Directions: Carol's Performances of Authority and Identity
Julie: Complications as Response
Stirring Them Up: Julie's "Particular Kind of Embodiment"
Olivia: Is There a Text in This Class?
"We Can't Reduce the Play [or Olivia] to One Message"
Less Euclidean Spaces


4. Departmental Academic and Social Knowledges


Julie and the Liminal Gap
Carol and Shifting Authority
Olivia and the Performance of Locations
Appropriation and Practice


5. Lesbian/Intellectual


Olivia: "The Cranky Lesbian Critic"
Carol: "You Don't Just Stay in a Place and Wallow in It"
Julie: "Responding to a Real Concrete Problem"
Exceeding Locations: Practices of the Self
Queer Ethnographic Spaces





Challenges the ways "lesbian academics" have been socially constructed.


This interpretive ethnography explores the academic practices of three lesbian faculty members at Liberal U. , a public research university. Drawing on poststructural theories, the text takes readers beyond constructions of lesbian faculty that rely on identity, voices, and visibility to consider the construction and shifting meanings of academic research, teaching, and collegial relations in practice. Talburt depicts the complicated relations of knowledge, identity, and sexuality as interrelated terms whose meanings are constructed as contingent possibilities. This book challenges us to rethink policy and practice, identity and difference, and knowledge and ignorance as lived and created in constantly shifting networks of relation.

Susan Talburt is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She is coeditor of Thinking Queer: Sexuality, Culture, and Education.


"A carefully conceived, brilliantly executed piece of work. " — William F. Pinar, coeditor of Understanding Curriculum as Racial Text: Representations of Identity and Difference in Education

"…by means of elegantly executed fieldwork, Talburt has produced a compelling portrait of the practices that both constitute, and are constituted by, successful female academics who are ambivalent about taking up lesbian identity in their professional culture. " — Qualitative Studies in Education

"The combination of respect for participant stories and sophisticated methodological understanding of the limits of 'authenticity' and 'voice' kept me turning the pages. The crisis of representation cuts across disciplines. This book enacts a way to use the ruins of correspondence theories of the real as a fruitful site for practices of doing and reporting feminist qualitative research that is lively, readable, and focused. " — Patti Lather, author of Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy within the Postmodern

"I find this book compelling on a number of levels. Perhaps most interesting to me are the ways in which the author renders complex performances that depict three very different women—each a 'lesbian academic'—putting the codified space of the academy to new uses, thereby engendering new modes of thought that bring us beyond identity categories, visibility politics and a reliance on tropes of voice. These are extraordinary achievements. " —Paula M. Salvio, University of New Hampshire