Topographies of Disruption: Queer(ed) Literacy Pedagogies Beyond the Binary


  • Liz Helton Columbia University, Teachers College


Queer Pedagogy, Queer Youth, LGBTQ, Intersectionality, Trans, Queer, English, Literacy


This article seeks to imagine the ways in which queer theor(ies), particularly those related to space and discourse, might hold implications for the (re)structuring of formal educational spaces. Through narrativizing the experiences of queer students, teachers, and moments in school, I hope to develop an understanding of what we might call “queer pedagogy/-ies,” wherein moments of disruption can be mined to cultivate more humane, soulful, and equitable school cultures. In leaning particularly on the work of feminist and queer theorist Sara Ahmed, I study how phenomena like “straightening devices” and “grid lines” act as regulating forces to maintain the status quo in schools, eclipsing opportunities for a queer imaginary and creative logic to rupture forth. In recalling how students often practice literacies of resistance, I outline how teachers might begin to (re)imagine pedagogy as being queered: as being intersectional, future-oriented, embodied, expansive, and, paradoxically, silent.

Author Biography

Liz Helton, Columbia University, Teachers College

Liz Helton is a first-year doctoral student in the English Education program at Columbia University's Teachers College. She received a bachelor's degree in English and American Literature from New York University (NYU) and a master's degree in English Education from Columbia University's Teachers College. She currently teaches in the MA program at Teachers College, and her research focuses on queer pedagogy and intersections between queer studies and English education.