Reading Gender(ing) through Pedagoggy in Action: A Multiple Case Study Employing Critical Discourse Analysis

Open Access
Reilly, Cole
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 23, 2009
Committee Members:
  • J Daniel Marshall Ph D, Dissertation Advisor
  • John Daniel Marshall, Committee Chair
  • Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Committee Chair
  • James F Nolan Jr., Committee Member
  • Lorraine Dowler, Committee Member
  • feminist pedagogy
  • pedagogy
  • read-alouds
  • discourse analysis
  • gendering
  • gender
  • class discussions
  • social constructivism
Feminism as a frame of reference (and feminist pedagogy in particular) attributes the socialization process of gendering primarily to cultural influences and media representations along with attitudes and ideals taught/learned at home. However, schools too are pivotal sites of such social constructivism, particularly with regard to appreciating sex and gender issues. At some level, schools unavoidably do teach such cultural constructions. When teachers neglect to disrupt, challenge, or queer gendered hegemonies (e.g., sex stereotypes, presumed sex role norms, and language representing gender bias), students may read their silence or inaction as an implicit endorsement of such taken-for-granted matters. As such, educators, particularly those in elementary education, have a responsibility to acknowledge and explore the role(s) they play in (or write into) the hidden curriculum of gendering. Drawing upon video technology, this study describes the pedagogical interactions (e.g., the language of instruction, teacher response, and class discussion) between and among students and their teacher as they negotiate gender-themed works of children’s literature during classroom read-alouds. Specifically, this research employs Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to illustrate how discourses of gender are pedagogically engaged within and throughout such interactions. Four emergent themes of discourse are identified: 1) binary conventions [e.g., constructing activities, perspectives, (cap)abilities, and consequences as gendered]; 2) feminized identities [e.g., princess- and sissy-talk]; 3) designer labels off-the-rack [e.g., using clothing to construct, allow for, motivate, and/or exoticize gendered identities]; and 4) “informed outsiders” [e.g., courtship, marriage, and child rearing as understood by children]. Ultimately, this study aims to encourage ongoing reflection as well as consciousness raising among veteran and preservice teachers with regard to the gendered discourses they might encourage, exercise, and/or exclude as part of their overall instruction, beyond just those lessons that entail reading aloud to others.