Mapping Emergent Childhoods and Justin Bieber Fan Culture

Open Access
Sherbine, Kortney Beth
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 21, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Dissertation Advisor
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Committee Chair
  • Christine Thompson, Committee Member
  • Kimberly Anne Powell, Committee Member
  • Charles Richard Garoian, Committee Member
  • childhood
  • fan culture
  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Félix Guattari
  • assemblage
  • nomad
  • becoming
  • desire
My dissertation emerges as an experiment in thinking about children and their encounters with popular culture. I am particularly interested in the ways in which children’s encounters with other bodies and materials produce transformations that allow them to transcend representational images of childhood. Drawing from the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, I take up this dissertation as an ontological project as I consider the potentials of childhood. That is, I work to conceptualize childhood as emergent, relational, and non-teleological. My dissertation research involves very specific contexts of children’s encounters with popular culture. I consider participant observation research data from two Justin Bieber concerts and a university art program to think about the disparate ways in which children engage with and what emerges from their relationships with Bieber fan culture, in particular. I also consider a YouTube video of a young fan of Justin Bieber as I think about the productive flows of desire that create ephemeral, contingent subjectivities. Additionally, I work through the entanglement of my own fandom and my uncertainty as a researcher as I deliberate on the affective potential that emerges in encounters among bodies and materials. In all of these deliberations, I plug in Deleuzoguattarian concepts such as nomadism, affect, desire, and becoming as I think about the difference that is produced in the assemblages of which children, fans, and researchers are a part. Finally, I consider what a reconceptualization of childhood might mean for relationships with children in classrooms. Drawing on a project that emerged in my own second grade classroom, I reconsider Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophies in order to think about the ways in which relational and affective pedagogy might honor what it is that children are interested in, what their encounters are capable of, and what they are becoming.