Publication details [#62092]

Helmer, Kirsten. 2016. Reading queer counter-narratives in the high-school literature classroom: possibilities and challenges. Discourse 37 (6) : 902–916.
Publication type
Article in journal
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Place, Publisher


Using an ethnographic case study of a 13-week Gay and Lesbian Literature course, this article examines how a high-school teacher and her students handled queer-themed literature. Centered on episodes around the class’ engagement with two of the novels read in the course – Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle and Michael Cunningham's The Hours – the article paper provides insights into how these queer counter-narratives opened up spaces for unexpected queer moments which interposed disruptively into the heteronormative space of the English literature classroom, whilst also disclosing heteronormative discourses' tenacity. This research raises questions about the pedagogical frameworks which direct the execution of curricula centered on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer themes in secondary schools. It is proposed that queer counter-narratives offer productive sites where teachers and their student readers can parley the paradoxes of modern queer subjectivities as they struggle with concepts of identity, normalcy, and norms linked to various sexualities and genders. KEYWORDS: LGBTQ, queer pedagogy, queer literacies, counter-narratives, English language arts, secondary education