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The masked masquerade : superhero and princess narratives and gendered masquerade in an early childhood… Moule, Jennifer Carla 2013

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	 ?THE MASKED MASQUERADE: SUPERHERO AND PRINCESS NARRATIVES AND GENDERED MASQUERADE IN AN EARLY CHILDHOOD SETTING  by JENNIFER CARLA MOULE B. A. (Honours), Brock University, 2006  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Early Childhood Education)   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  October 2013   ? Jennifer Carla Moule, 2013  	 ? ii	 ?Abstract   Drawing from a poststructuralist feminist paradigm, this thesis considers the questions ?How do the observed popular fantasy narratives in a child care setting intersect with three- and four-year-olds? gendered subjectivities?? and ?How and why do these narratives contribute to marginalised subjectivities in this setting?? I spent two-and-a-half months in an early childhood classroom using ethnographic-type methods, with a perspective of ?methodological immaturity? (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008) in departing from the Mosaic approach of multiple methods (Clark, 2005). The study included six children ? two girls and four boys from three- to four-and-a-half-years-old ? with whom I engaged in ?conversations with a special purpose? (Eide & Winger, 2005), participant-observation, and the occasional activity-based methods.  In considering Butler?s (2008) conceptualisation of gender as masquerade, the children?s gender performances intermingled meaningfully with the fantasy play narratives of superheroes and princesses. The children seemingly masqueraded these commodified identities in body and discourse towards better satisfying the implicit expectations of a well-performed gender discursively put upon young children?s bodies. Further, through these embodied discourses, other child bodies were relegated to the margins. Much of this was demonstrated through the restricting discourses called upon by me in the research conversations themselves, such as calling on a boy/girl binary in asking about the ?rules for boys.? Thus, limitations of the research methods used are thoroughly discussed. This research suggests departing from an all-or-nothing mentality on ?allowing? this play, and encouraging new ways to engage with and depart from these narratives.      	 ? iii	 ?Preface  This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, J. C. Moule. The fieldwork reported in Chapters Three and Four was covered by UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board certificate number H11-02664.    	 ? iv	 ?Table of Contents 	 ?Abstract ............................................................................................................................................. ii 	 ?Preface .............................................................................................................................................. iii 	 ?Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................. iv 	 ?List of Figures .................................................................................................................................. vi 	 ?Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................................... vii 	 ?Dedication ...................................................................................................................................... viii 	 ?Introduction: Another Early Childhood Education Paper about Superheroes and Princesses .......... 1  Research Question .............................................................................................................. 3 Paradigm ............................................................................................................................. 6  Chapter One: Methodology ............................................................................................................. 10  Methodological Stance ..................................................................................................... 12 Research Design ............................................................................................................... 14 Recruiting Child Participants ............................................................................................ 14 Group Details .................................................................................................................... 16 Data Collection ................................................................................................................. 18 Data Analysis .................................................................................................................... 24 	 ?Chapter Two: Literature Review: Negotiating Differences in Early Childhood ............................ 27  Superhero Debates ............................................................................................................ 31 Uncontested Princesses ..................................................................................................... 36 All Being as Gendered. All Gender as Masquerade ......................................................... 41 	 ?Chapter Three: Data Interpretations: Masqueraded Gendering ...................................................... 45  The Perfect Male Child ..................................................................................................... 45 The Culmination: Superhero-dom .................................................................................... 61 Hair and Eyelashes: Discriminating Visual Markers of ?Girlness? ................................. 74 	 ?Chapter Four: Methodological Reflections: Recherch is a Hard One ............................................ 92  Limitations: Binaries, Erasure, and the Status Quo .......................................................... 93 	 ?Chapter Five: Layers of Masquerade .............................................................................................. 97 	 ?	 ? v	 ?References ..................................................................................................................................... 103 	 ?Appendices .................................................................................................................................... 113 	 ? A: Centre Recruiting Letter ............................................................................................ 113 B: Educator Consent Form ............................................................................................. 114 C: Parent Advertisement ................................................................................................. 117 D: Parent Consent Form ................................................................................................. 118 E: Interview Guide .......................................................................................................... 122     	 ? vi	 ?List of Figures 	 ?Figure 1. ?A lady with a car shirt? .................................................................................................. 77 	 ?Figure 2. ?A boy because it?s got no hair? ...................................................................................... 79 	 ? vii	 ?Acknowledgements  I want to extend sincerest gratitude to my inspiring and supportive supervisor Dr. Deirdre Kelly, my ever patient and insightful committee, Dr. Lisa Loutzenheiser and Dr. Mona Gleason, and to Dr. Claudia Ruitenberg for her vigor as my external examiner. Also thank you to the Early Childhood Education department at The University of British Columbia for making my unique, cross-disciplinary program possible. I would also like to recognize Dr. Hans Skott-Myhre, Dr. Kathy Skott-Myhre, and Dr. Rebecca Raby of Brock University for first inspiring me to look critically at the world and helping me build the confidence to do so.   This thesis would not have been possible without the unending support of my family ? special mention to my parents Maria and Jim, my Auntie Pat and Uncle Wayne, and my ?little? cousin Kyle for actually reading my first article. The sharp editing eyes of Allison Ward and Caitlin Campbell helped bring the first drafts of this thesis into coherence, not to mention their patient encouragement alongside that of my partner John MacQueen, and my amazing friends Andrew Natale and Lindsay Todd.   Finally, I cannot overstate my appreciation for the child care centre and its employees and families that accepted my presence with open arms, and especially the brilliant children involved in this research, who taught me so much beyond the scope of this paper and helped me accept spinach into my life.     	 ? viii	 ?Dedication  This thesis is dedicated to Billy*, the child who inspired it all.                     *Billy?s name, and every other child?s name referred to in this document as well as the child care centre?s name, is a pseudonym. 	 ?	 ?1	 ?Introduction: Another Early Childhood Education Paper about Superheroes and Princesses  Welcome to my master?s thesis: why yes, it is on a topic that you have probably read about before. Had someone told me that my master?s thesis would have centred on Superheroes and Princesses, I honestly would have rolled my eyes and yawned. Really though, why is that? Academic and adult-led discourses of legitimate knowledge blurred my lens on my own research. The institution of academic research values some knowledges over others. Much critique exists of the value of the types of knowledge produced by the natural sciences and quantitative research, over the humanities and social sciences, particularly in terms of qualitative work. However, within this latter category, a hierarchy continues to be pervasive with claims to discourses of uniqueness, breaking new ground, doing something ?particularly interesting? placed at the top of the hierarchy. There is absolutely a place for this, and it fit strongly into my self-concept as a graduate student. However, following this discourse in generating my data would have ignored what was important for the child participating in my research; in the case of this project?s setting, the ?typical, boring, and expected? interests of children spoke loudest. By denying discourses that relegate these observations as uninteresting, and truly deciding to push past my own biases allowed me to attempt to reframe the ?normal? activities of children as nuanced and densely meaningful. As Steele (2003) points out,  As commonly used, the word ?fantasy? denotes imagination, unreal or exaggerated images, illusion, and the like ? should not be taken ?too seriously.? But fantasy also has a particular psychological meaning, involving the fulfillment of psychic needs. (p. 75)  The discursive atmosphere created in an institution, I argue, directly influences these psychic needs. Through an institution such as early childhood education that uses discourses of 	 ?	 ?2	 ?developmental science and neoliberal definitions of a good subject, children who are relegated to a developmentally inferior position use the subjectivities available to them to negotiate their own forms of access to power.  Considering children as an already marginalised group offers a new image of early childhood spaces as disciplinary institutions within the dominant system of oppression (Millei, 2005) that privileges the self-regulating white, middle-class, masculine adult body and positions all other bodies as lacking. It is my belief that this system of disciplinary institutions and how children experience it contributes to the discriminatory discourses that already permeate the lives of young children (Katz & Kofkin, 1997). Furthermore, these discourses become inscribed onto children through the early imposition of restrictive subjectivities based on gender, race, age, ability, and so on, which become the responsibility of the child to bear and perform as Butler (2008) posits for subjects in general. Part of this is through the commercialized discourses they consume and embody in order to present an acceptable gendered body, such as the licensed Marvel superheroes or Disney princesses. Through discursive critique, I intend to trouble these subjectivities in order to ?create new meanings to challenge the current relations of power in our ways of understanding the world? (MacNaughton, 2005, p. 91). I want to broaden ways of including the voices of children in contemporary research in early childhood education, as current ones limit the types of voices that may be heard. The ?voice of the child? is a popular contemporary discourse in the field, which is intended to refer to meaning made by the child about her or his own world. Since their countries? ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1991 early childhood researchers in places such as Canada and Australia have been increasingly supportive of ?the child?s right to have a voice, and to have his/her opinions heard? (p. 251). To this end, they have striven to develop research that 	 ?	 ?3	 ?seeks to ?listen to the voices of children who are the most often silenced in the production of knowledge?? (Pascal & Bertran, 2009, p. 252). The emphasis on the ?child voice? ? the highlighting of children?s perspectives ? has been simultaneously supported by the emergence of Reggio Emilia?s influence on dominant early childhood theory, especially its celebration of the child as ?a social agent? (p. 10) and her or his ??hundred languages? of expression? (Pacini-Ketchabaw, Kocher, Berger, Isaac, & Mort, 2007, p. 6). One example of emphasizing ?child voice? in research is the emergence of the Mosaic Approach, a methodological framework originally developed by Alison Clark and Peter Moss that focuses on including the ?voice of the child? (Clark, 2005, p. 29) and is explicitly inspired by ?the theoretical perspectives explored in the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia? (p. 30). While I support certain key foundations of this framework ? as will be explored further later ? Reggio Emilia and the Mosaic approach have been appropriated to privilege the particular ?language? of the child that best invites adult interpretation and satisfies mandates of unique and intriguing research. Thus, only certain children?s voices, types of expression, and subject matter are ?heard? while others are marginalised, maintaining a neo-liberal agenda of extracting value from children?s lives to the benefit of a system by and for adults. Research Question I began with a research project inspired by my relationship with a child in my second full time early childhood educator position. In the summer of 2007, I met two-and-a-half-year-old Billy*. It was my first day on the job at a child care centre in Ontario, and it was morning clean-up time. Billy had been running around the room with a toy car, came up and showed it to me, and then ran away. When he came back, I enlisted him as my helper in the clean-up job and he was eager to join in. Soon after, I was warned by a couple of the other teachers that he would be 	 ?	 ?4	 ??difficult?; he and his family were struggling with poverty, mental health issues, and violence and Billy was expected to have similar issues. It did not take long for me to notice how these opinions affected the ways that teachers reacted to him. As I observed the day?s circle time, I noticed that Billy tried to grab one of my new room partner?s circle materials, and was asked to stop. He stomped his feet and kept trying, and then cried when he was again denied. My co-teacher, clearly frustrated, told him ?Okay! You?re going to the office!? and brought him straight upstairs to the supervisor?s room. This became an obvious trend in how all of the teachers would deal with Billy. He would do something they did not like, cry when he was removed from the situation, and then was taken to the office. I started to get the feeling that they did not want to bother dealing with him, and so I intervened when his behaviour disturbed other children or teachers.   Of course, Billy was not perfect. He would hit adults and children when frustrated, ignore requests of teachers, and enjoyed being chased when we would prefer he come to us. My personal experience of the latter mostly occurred on field trips, which was particularly challenging in open public spaces. Nonetheless, he and I formed a relationship and together we devised strategies that he could use to try to behave the way he was expected to, and he seemed proud of his increased listening and peer approval. What I most enjoyed was the opportunity to talk with Billy about his feelings, because he seemed to spend a lot of time expressing anger or sadness. Unfortunately, I had to interrupt our relationship for large spans of time as I only worked at this centre in the summers. However, I always looked forward to working with him again when I returned. When I returned for my third summer, he was not in class or on the attendance list. Soon I was informed that he had been kicked out of the child care centre, and no one claimed to remember why.  This relationship with Billy, and my disappointment with the chances he was denied, has inspired my interest in the experience of differences in child care centres ? which first focused on 	 ?	 ?5	 ?the experiences of those marginalised as ?problem children.? When going through the proposal approval stage of my master?s thesis, and especially after feedback from my committee, the focus became less specific for several reasons. The greatest of these were the ethics process and recruiting challenges ? especially within the timeframe expected for a master?s project. Ethical difficulties arose when attempting to define the parameters for who might constitute a ?problem child.? Although my intentions were to challenge this label and highlight the power these children can engage, the unspoken ways in which they can be labelled meant that my use of the label through research could instead reify that label in ways that are unethical for working with these children. Furthermore, questions arose about whether I would be able to do this in a way that would satisfy an ethical review. The task of recruiting children and securing the permission of their parents using the loaded label of ?problem child? would be very complicated if not impossible.  In light of these challenges, I broadened my research focus to allow for the spotlighting of marginalised subjectivities in a particular child care setting. Thus, the research question became: how do three- and four-year-old children understand social difference in a child care setting? Social difference was defined as divides of race, gender, ability, age, class, and so on ? the entirety of which I argued was not necessarily anticipatable. Thus, it is necessary to revisit the parameters of the research question with the information I now have about what was meaningful for the child participants in this setting. In order to guide analysis that reflects this, this thesis now aims to answer the questions:  ? How do the observed popular fantasy narratives in a child care setting intersect with three- and four-year-olds? gendered subjectivities? ? How and why do these narratives contribute to marginalized subjectivities in this setting?  	 ?	 ?6	 ?Paradigm  Poststructuralists ?want to deconstruct the conceptions by means of which we have so far understood the human? (Sarup, 1993, p. 2). However, attempting to claim and subsequently explain poststructuralist theories ? including those that intertwine with feminist thought ? is an ironic task. In An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, Madan Sarup (1993) declares that ?post-structuralism, in short, involves a critique of metaphysics, of the causality, of identity, of the subject, and of truth? and how they are ?structured by language? (p. 3). While Sarup?s characterization of poststructuralism is not untrue, the irony in providing such a definition ? and subsequently my attempted claim of its use ? is that it creates a ?Truth? for a paradigm that attempts to subvert Truths. As Butler (2011) points out, ?it is difficult to know [?] who or what is designated by the term ?poststructuralism?? (p. 4). That being said, in order to attempt to bring this perspective to my research project, I draw on a collection of original theorists who have contributed to this perspective. However, I must recognize that:  The original writers of ?poststructuralist theory? do not always name themselves as such. The writer, for example, whose work is perhaps most drawn on by those who name themselves poststructuralist is Foucault, yet Foucault himself expressed a wish to distance himself from the label. (Davies, 2000, p. 135) Therefore, like others before me, I will be drawing primarily from Foucault and Butler to inform my use of poststructuralist feminist critique of the discourses disciplining child subjectivities in this classroom.    According to Lyotard (1984), language is widely accepted as a neutral system, while the rules of language and its signs construct and define every aspect of society toward a specific order. The paradigm of poststructuralism contests language as a fixed and objective system of 	 ?	 ?7	 ?meaning and emphasizes that the meaning of words, concepts, and symbols are contingent, contextual, and especially power-driven. From this view, meaning structures such as binaries create divides that valourize some ways of knowing and being, while others are marginalized (MacNaughton, 2005). Meaning structures thus create ?regimes of Truth? (Foucault, 1989, p. 131): pervasive forms of accepted knowledge that serve as functions of power (Pence & Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2008). For Foucault (1977), power is not held but instead enacted in every interaction; power is produced by language and circulates pervasively, filtered through institutions and their technologies. Power and knowledge are interdependent, as they create and recreate each other:  ?the exercise of power itself creates and causes to emerge new objects of knowledge. Conversely, knowledge induces effects of power. It is not possible for power to be exercised without knowledge, it is impossible for knowledge to engender power. (Sarup, 1993, p. 74) This interdependence is especially relevant in early childhood education, a field that often must struggle for government legitimization and funding, and thus depends on the knowledge agendas of a liberal, capitalist society (Prentice, 2009).   Power-knowledge enacted by science engages institutions of schooling towards the production of ?normalized? bodies and the punishment of the abnormal (Millei, 2005). According to Foucault (2000), there are:  three modes of objectification that transform human beings into subjects [?which are:] the modes of inquiry that try to give themselves the status of science, [?] the objectivizing of the subject in what I shall call ?dividing practices? [?and] the way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject? (pp. 326-327) 	 ?	 ?8	 ?These three modes ? or technologies ? are present throughout educational discourses that converge to produce and reproduce subjectivities in early childhood settings. Subjectivities, and how they are (re)produced for and by individuals, are a strong focus of poststructuralist feminist scholars? work. Central to this work are theories of Butler, who, following and challenging influences of Irigaray, de Beauvoir, and Wittig, further troubles the assumed connectedness of sex/gender/desire by challenging not only their essential continuity but also the category of biological sex as a material fact (Butler, 2008). Without disrupting the ?biological fact? of a sex-based binary, she purports that the resulting gendered binary cannot be escaped. Doing so may be particularly important in regards to early childhood research; Davies (1989) suggests that it is this discursive binary that produces only very stereotyped gender subjectivities as available to young children, even despite curricular efforts to break these same stereotypes. With these discourses intact, ??persons? only become intelligible through becoming gendered in conformity with recognizable standards of gendered intelligibility? (Butler, 2008, p. 22).   This thesis reports upon this research project as it unfolded towards an understanding of how the children in one particular early childhood setting engaged play narratives ? particularly the ever-popular superhero and princess roles ? to masquerade their ideal gendered bodies and render others marginal. Chapter One outlines the methodological stance and specific procedures engaged in this project, including details about the child care setting and child participants. Chapter Two sets up this research by providing a review of how children are thought to understand social differences, and what is already known of the significance of superhero and princess narratives in children?s lives. The data is analysed in Chapter Three, highlighting how these children negotiated their own and others? gender performances through these fantasy narratives. Finally, methodological reflections and limitations are discussed in Chapter Four, 	 ?	 ?9	 ?followed by concluding thoughts and implications for practice in Chapter Five. Through this project, I hope to bring this popular topic regarding the gendered play of superheroes and princesses in childhood research into new forms of interpretation and new possibilities for understanding the social worlds of children.    	 ?	 ?10	 ?Chapter One: Methodology  While my history with Billy provided the inspiration for this specific research project, my journey towards it started with my introduction to the field of early childhood education through the ECE diploma program at Mohawk College in 2004. This program and its placements inspired my excitement for the field, and taught me the ?Truths? of working with children: developmental psychology, developmentally appropriate and interest-based programming, behaviour guidance, policies, and how to make up songs on the spot. This qualification allowed me to continue with full-time employment during the summer months of my subsequent undergraduate degree program. Today, I have accrued a combined five years? worth of experience in early childhood settings. From these summer experiences, Billy?s was only one of several situations that inspired me to think critically of those ingrained ?Truths? I had learned in college. During the remainder of these years, through the influences of Dr. Hans Skott-Myhre, Dr. Kathy Skott-Myhre, and Dr. Rebecca Raby, my BA in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University was also changing how I thought about children through exposure to poststructuralist and feminist thought. In combination, these academic and work experiences led me to the MA program in Early Childhood Education at the University of British Columbia. From this experience, I may ?legitimately? claim theoretical and practical preparedness to embark on this study.   Such a background provided me with some important insider knowledge within the ECE field, as I have some similar experiences to many of the early childhood educators alongside whom I worked during this research. However, Glesne (2011) points out ?even though you were once ?there,? you cannot safely assume that you know what the people are like in your research site? (p. 69). My experiences as an early childhood educator differed in many ways as well: my work and education in the field has been almost exclusively situated in Hamilton, Ontario, which 	 ?	 ?11	 ?differs in many ways from Vancouver, British Columbia. As a white, English-speaking young adult from a middle-class background, my access to continuing education and any other economic, racial, or linguistic privilege I hold in an ECE setting situated me in a position to enact power-knowledge over the educators in the setting. This certainly threatened to be the case among the children as well; by drawing on my ?legitimate? preparedness as an early childhood educator, I automatically called upon a system through which I may claim to know and order children in a setting over which I hold domain.  Many early childhood researchers believe that assuming an ?image of the child? in which children are thought of as ?agents? and ?co-researchers? can neutralize some of the adult-child power imbalance in research (Marr & Malone, 2007; Danby & Farrell, 2004). However, Glesne (2011) points out that if researchers are making most of the research decisions regarding with whom they talk, what they observe, and how and for whom they analyze and write up the data, they are in a position of power relative to research participants. (p. 148)  Although there are projects claiming to do ?co-research? with children under six (e.g., Marr & Malone, 2007), I would argue that they remain adult-led, adult-interpreted, and adult-written. While it may be technically possible for very young children to engage in these aspects and truly collaborate in research, I argue that it is not possible for adults to provide the required space or adequately deem it legitimate. For that reason, in my research I strove towards openness to the children?s lead, but I could not falsely categorize it as ?co-research,? by acknowledging that it was impossible for me to access the world of the child from a position that is anything but outside and above (Eide & Winger, 2005).  	 ?	 ?12	 ? A supposed ?remedy? to such a situation is impossible for me to posit here; at its core, research is about relationships, which cannot follow a formula, and to provide a structure for their cultivation stands only to undermine their potential for depth. Instead, Elliot (2010) describes relationships as ?dynamic and rich interaction between unique individuals who will create unique and particular moments? (p. 9) and, as such, emphasizes dialogue in relationships with children. Connecting the two, she explains that ?the nature of a dialogue is dynamic and engaged; relationships also are about engagement, responsiveness, and responsibility. Being alert to all aspects of another person requires a welcoming attitude and an open heart? (p. 4). Thus, an emphasis on dialogue in the relationships I formed with children, teachers, and parents worked towards connections that attempted to complicate any idealized position researchers ?should? hold in children?s spaces. I attempted to do this by omitting a procedure for creating relationships with the children, towards allowing a space for myself and the people involved in this research to ?just be? in the research setting, thus ?understanding the engagement between children and researchers as an open-ended, unpredictable process? (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008, p. 509). This stance, part of what Gallacher and Gallagher (2008) call ?methodological immaturity,? aimed to challenge current trends of ?participatory methods? in early childhood education.  Methodological Stance  With this stance of ?methodological immaturity,? I engaged in ethnographic methods; this is not, however, ethnographic research because my time working in ?the field? was too brief for this, although consistent with a master?s project. With hesitation, I aimed to follow and complicate current participatory trends, which ?can be said to extend and enhance, rather than replace, ethnographic approaches [through an] attempt to engage with children?s embodied and performative lives? (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008, p. 506). In particular, I partly drew from Clark 	 ?	 ?13	 ?and Moss? (2001) Mosaic Approach, whose name ?was chosen to represent bringing together of different pieces or perspectives in order to create an image of children?s worlds, both individual and collective? (p. 31). This approach engages multiple forms of ?listening? to young children towards ?recognis[ing] the different ?voices? or languages of children? (Clark, 2005, p. 30). Examples of this listening include the children?s drawings, picture taking, mapping, and dramatic play in order ?to engage the myriad symbolic languages through which children represent and communicate their experiences [?through] combining the visual with the verbal? (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008, p. 506).  However, this method?s emphasis on a participatory image of children, which ?treat[s] children as experts and agents in their own lives? (Clark, 2005, p. 31), ?risks setting up norms of appropriate engagement by implying that children should ?participate? in certain ways and not in others? (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008, pp. 507-508). Furthermore, it erases the ways in which children often ?act in ways beyond the limits prescribed by ?participatory? techniques? (p. 207), such as a refusal to participate ? an act that may be especially telling in discussions of difference and ?problem behaviours.? Thus, my strongest departure from the Mosaic Approach was a ?laissez-faire? approach to children?s involvement in my research methods in order to prevent reifying a disciplinary role in expecting their participation. Clark and Moss? (2001) approach, however, influenced my research methods because of its centricity in the current research of early childhood education; my work aimed to take this step in furthering the field and to inspire other possibilities for working with young children.    	 ?	 ?14	 ?Research Design In an attempt to find a child care setting for my research, I consulted the online Child Care Referral List for Group Child Care for children 30 months to school age, provided by Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. The centres that I attempted to recruit were chosen based on their not-for-profit status and their independence from a multi-centre system, the latter of which was to ensure a singular process of obtaining permission to access the centre. I visited these centres with copies of the Centre Recruiting Letter (Appendix A), which was handed to the site?s director, when possible, I had a conversation with the director. Upon my visit to Allegra, the director welcomed my research and scheduled my attendance at their upcoming staff meeting. At this meeting, I handed an Educator Consent Form (Appendix B) to each educator, explained the research to them as a group, and answered their questions. I told them that I could be contacted for questions they may want to ask more privately. Although I had suggested they contact me individually, the group collectively agreed to allow my research at their centre. When I returned for my research start date, during which I would simply acclimatize myself with the setting, I received the signed consent forms from each educator, and no educator withdrew from the study.  Recruiting Child Participants At Allegra, each family has a mailbox in the centre through which important information is communicated. They check this every day at pick up and/or drop off. After learning from the director which of the centre?s children was three or four years old, Parent Advertisements for the study (Appendix C) were put in each family?s mailbox. As parents returned the advertisement to me, those who had expressed interest in the study by indicating YES on the form were provided with a Parent Consent Form (Appendix D) to review, and we agreed upon a time within the 	 ?	 ?15	 ?following few days to discuss it together. For the parents? convenience, these conversations were held at the centre, usually after all children had been dropped off, or at the very end of the day.  From the beginning of my presence at Allegra, I had let all children there know that I was there to do research. I explained that I was there to learn about them by talking to them ? if they were okay with it. I gave myself the label of ?learner,? to differentiate myself from teachers, volunteers, and student teachers. I told them that what I learned ? if they thought it was all right ? I would write in stories for other people to read.   After a child?s parent had signed the consent form, I asked that child to chat with me. I told them that I had asked their parents if I could talk to them for my research, and encouraged them to talk to their parents about it too. I told each child that his or her parents had said it was okay, and that I wanted to know if the child was okay with it as well. This approach to obtaining assent is in some ways problematic; by first informing children of their parents? permission, the request may have become an obligation to them. Doing so may have been inadvertently coercive. Mentioning this first was intended to avoid seeming ?sneaky? or creating an uncomfortably secretive atmosphere for the children. What may be a suggested course for the future would be to inform children that they as well as their parents are being asked about the children?s participation, without emphasizing the parents? decisions.  In informing them of the study and their rights as participants, I told each child that I would ask them about their friends, their school, what they like to do, what they think is important, and what it is like to be a child. I would take some time watching what they do at Allegra and try to do some fun activities together. I told them that if they wanted me to stop any time they could tell me, that they could say ?no? if I asked them to do something, they could choose not to talk to me, and they could tell me I can not write stories about what I learn about 	 ?	 ?16	 ?them. I told them they could change their mind, say ?no? one time, and ?yes? another. I asked them if they thought that was okay and if they wanted to be in my research stories, at which time I added, ?it is okay to say ?no?? in a way that communicated equally positive feelings about that option. If they accepted this, that is when I would begin research activities with them, if they said ?no? or ignored this conversation, I did not include them in my research but suggested it again another day.  Thus, children joined my research project as this process occurred for each of them, and so the start date ? and thus amount of time in the research ? differed for each. The research began with Nathaniel, and continued with Rylin, Finn, Elijah, Rosalynn, and finally Allison, who returned from vacation partway through my data generation stage. No children withdrew from the study, though there were many times during which they were uninterested in participating and withdrew themselves from conversations, activities, or observations.  Group Details  Allegra is a one-group child care centre for up to 25 children, aged 30 months to five years, in a very spacious open-concept stand-alone building. It is located in the west side of Vancouver, and serves families from various economic backgrounds and home makeups. Some of these families are English-speaking and have resided in Canada for multiple generations, some are first- and second-generation immigrated families whose primary language is not English, and some are families temporarily visiting from another country whose primary language is not English. Most of the children at Allegra are white, while approximately a quarter of them are racialised, and none of the children have been identified with any disabilities. There are four full-time staff with their Early Childhood Educator Licenses, and one director. The centre regularly accepts volunteers, the majority of whom are Japanese students practicing their English language 	 ?	 ?17	 ?use. Thus, there are often extra adults in the room. Each adult involved in the classroom during my time there, including the director, the educators, and the volunteers were women, and all were racialised aside from the director and me. The programming follows themes, and separates older children during circle-time to engage in learning and activities focusing on school-readiness, apart from the other children. The day involves structured and free activities, indoors and out; transition times often included teacher-led story time, or free book reading, colouring sheets, and/or Duplo block play. The play of the boys in the centre commonly engaged superhero themes through dramatic play indoors and out, along similar lines of rescuing one another as "policemen" or "firemen," as well as Duplo play during which they almost exclusively constructed "parking lots" for small metal cars and occasionally narrated superhero story lines around them. The girls often played as peripheral characters to these superhero story lines, as well as constructing their own parking lots, or playing animal hospital, which often included costumes, or walking around in fancy dresses from the costume centre - and most of these girls, whether in costume or not, claimed to be princesses. Outdoors, in addition to the above, the boys and girls would often create food sale stands together, use the swings, or pick vegetables from the garden.  Only three- and four-year-old children were recruited for this research, as five-year-olds are more often included in research through their Kindergartens. There were six children participating in this study: four were boys and two were girls. Three of the boys (Rylin, Nathaniel, and Finn) were almost four and the other had just turned three (Elijah). One girl turned four during the study (Rosalynn), and the other was three-and-a-half (Allison). Two boys and one girl came from families whose primary language was not English, but all could use English 	 ?	 ?18	 ?functionally and socially in the class. Both of these boys were racialised while all other children could be read as white. None of the children were identified with any sort of disability. Data Collection  The following are the specific methods I engaged to answer the research questions: How do the observed popular fantasy narratives in a child care setting intersect with three- and four-year-olds? gendered subjectivities? How and why do these narratives contribute to marginalized subjectivities in this setting?  1. Interviews, or ?Conversations with a Special Purpose?   As discussed in the subsequent Literature Review in more detail, soliciting children?s views through interviews is particularly underrepresented in literature relevant to difference in early childhood. Alison Clark (2005) contends that this may in fact be beneficial because ?if exchanges between adults and young children are focused on the written and spoken word, then it is difficult for young children to have the ?upper hand?? (p. 46) and further imply that language is the domain of adults. While the wording of this problematically implies that spoken language is an unchangeable system that naturally favours adults, I do support the implication that the power-knowledge that produces language systems restricts some possibilities in dialogue, as well as attributes greater value and legitimacy to the forms of verbal utterances more commonly produced by adult subjects. For this reason, I hoped to celebrate the many ways of expression that the multiple methods of the Mosaic Approach (Clark & Moss, 2001) could generate, but also acknowledge that ?children?s accounts have their own validity in terms of being their own perspectives about the way the world seems to them? (Punch, 2002, p. 322), including their own forms of verbal expression. Furthermore, when used alongside observation, Cindy Clark (2011) suggests that interviews with young children ?can also be an antidote to adult arrogance, since 	 ?	 ?19	 ?they often arise out of what has been observed, and provide a chance to hear how children frame happenings? (p. 66). Thus, I intended for these interviews ? or more accurately ?conversations with a special purpose? (Eide & Winger, 2005) ? to allow me the chance to try taking children?s verbal utterances as inherently legitimate in stories about their experiences. The Interview Guide followed during this research can be viewed in Appendix E.   With this in mind, there is further debate over the ideal way in which interviews with children can be done. While Irwin and Johnson (2005) suggest that interview formats begin with close-ended questions and move to open-ended, Docherty and Sandelowski (1999) advise that researchers begin with free recall before moving to more direct questions. Meanwhile ? as previously stated ? Eide and Winger (2005) emphasize open-ended, guiding questions in ?a conversation with a special purpose? (p. 80) rather than a formal interview. I attempted to consider these suggestions for moving towards an understanding that patterned formats are not necessarily beneficial in working with young children. However, such decisions must ultimately be ?planned according [?] to the [apparent] expressional style of the child? (Irwin & Johnson, 2005, p. 826) while ?having a firm foundation in reflection about theory and practice and being open to changes and surprises? (Eide & Winger, 2005, p. 81). Thus, I engaged in these ?conversation[s] with a special purpose? (p. 80) for the duration of data collection, towards the goal of ?a kind of intersubjectivity [?] during which meanings are conveyed through interactions? (Clark, 2011, p. 76). As such, I did not provide specific, pre-prepared questions in the belief that they would be a disservice to my ethics and my relationships with the children.   When I had these conversations with the children, they varied based on the child and situation. In general, most of the exchanges began with ?tell me about?? ?what do you think about?? or ?why??, and nearly every conversation continued as I asked ?why?? to what they 	 ?	 ?20	 ?told me or I reflected what they had said. I asked why in order to encourage them to make meaning about what they were sharing, as well as reflecting a pattern of inquisition typical of children this age. For some children, this mode of inquiry was ineffective. For example, Rosalynn was consistent in answering ?why? questions with silence, disregarding the conversation, but could be engaged with yes/no questions, and questions in which I suggested something that she might consider to be ridiculous, so that she could correct me. This was the same case for Elijah, who also was interested in ?what? type questions. While these were the types of questions to which Elijah could more easily respond, Rosalynn?s particularities seemed more reflective of her interest level in participating. Thus, I attempted to adjust my questions to better engage these children. 2. Participant-observation of the children and their space.  The first two weeks of research involved general observations, while I also acclimatized to the classroom and built connections with the children and the teachers. As Punch (2002) points out, it is important in all research to first gain rapport with all participants ? whether children or adults. In this research, the teachers served as a first point of rapport as they are the adult gatekeepers to the world of the children (Punch, 2002) and were present for all data collection. Thus, these first two weeks included relating to the shared experience of an early childhood educator, as well as demonstrating an unobtrusive and/or non-evaluative presence. Furthermore, this time allowed familiarity to develop between the children and myself, with the intent to boost their comfort with my presence as I became increasingly integrated within the program (Clark & Moss, 2001). Thus, these weeks also involved many casual conversations with the children in order to adapt my communication style and present myself a casual, non-disciplinary adult member of the classroom, defined as a learner. 	 ?	 ?21	 ? ?[T]echniques such as observation have a strong tradition in the early years field,? according to Clark, McQuail, and Moss (2003, p. 1), and hold importance because they enable ?a situated consideration of children within a dynamic social environment, with close-at-hand scrutiny of children?s roles as social actors? (Clark, 2011, p. 42), as well as ?help[ing] to newly frame, with nuance, what is familiar? (p. 41). This latter point holds importance in acknowledging what I may otherwise consider ?normal? aspects of an early childhood classroom as ?strange? (Clark, 2011), thus bringing a critical eye to their textuality. Observations were detailed in field notes throughout both months following the first two weeks, and focused on several aspects of the children?s activities in the classroom. Important in these observations were numerous texts, including child/teacher interactions, child/child interactions, group conversations, the children?s non-verbal cues, classroom routines, norms, rules, and classroom materials. While this array allowed for broad observations, they were continuously guided by the following questions:  ? How and why are children defined in these texts?  ? How are bodies and behaviours ordered through these texts?  ? How is power-knowledge enacted through these texts?  ? How do gender, race, class, ability, age, religion play out in these texts?  All of these foci of observation were read as classroom texts that informed a later synthesis of the children?s experiences, and how grand discourses intertwined with how the children viewed their worlds.  3. Supplementary Mosaic-type methods associated with interviews and observations.  As hinted at earlier, ?visual, spatial, and physical tools [in research] should not be seen as ?creative extra? but offer a challenge to the dominant learning styles that value verbal/linguistic skills at the expense of other means of communication? (Clark, 2005, p. 47). Recognizing these 	 ?	 ?22	 ?types of methods as valuable aims to complicate what are considered legitimate ways of communicating. Furthermore, because verbal methods may be less suitable for some children ? especially non/pre-verbal children (Clark, 2005), ?using task-based methods can enable further benefit,? Punch (2002) explains, ?the use of drawing gives children time to think about what they wish to portray. The image can be changed and added to, which gives children more control over their form of expression? (p. 331). This aspect then encourages a multifaceted form of dialogical listening that includes ?internal listening or self-reflection? (Clark, 2005, p. 35), ?multiple listening or openness to other ?voices?? (p. 39), and ?visible listening [?] through the construct of traces? (p. 42). Thus, by supplementing the ethnographic methods of interviewing and observation with Mosaic-type activities ? specifically drawing, colouring, and co-reading storybooks ? I could learn something further about the children?s points of view. The aim in using this range of methods in this was not for interpretation or labelling but to encourage new possibilities for conversations beyond questions and answers.    However, a major concern with using these activities ? often termed ?participatory research? ? is that they run the risk of reifying traditional curricular expressions of docile task-completion on the part of the children (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008). For this reason, the initial intent of including such tasks in this research remained open-ended, and surfaced only in the event that such activities happen to occur. I included them as supplements to ?interviews? and as the basis for observations, and through them the children were able to give meaning to the texts they engaged with through the course of their typical days in a child care setting.   Colouring in sheets and free drawing were recurring activities that the children and I engaged in as a popular option among the transitional activities in the morning and after naptime. Each time, we would comment on each other?s pictures, and I would occasionally start 	 ?	 ?23	 ?conversations during the process focusing on their pictures and mine. Evolving from their focus on gender characteristics and evaluations of ?normal? in these comments and conversations, I began to draw human figures as inspiration for deeper discussion. These were drawn with the intent of visually challenging what they seemed to hold as status quo about gender markers, and added to through the conversation, often at their guidance or in reaction to their comments. In one case, the attempt was to draw a figure as gender neutral: with no parts or markings that are specifically gendered. In the two proceeding figures, I attempted to illustrate a mixture of supposedly contradictory gender markings. Through these, I got a feeling for some of the nuances in how the children actively inscribed bodies and particular visual features as gendered. Examples of these can be found in Chapter Three.   While, in the moment, these activities felt like a natural emergence from the typical research engagements at the art table, it may be seen as too great an intrusion on my part as researcher. In many ways, it brings too great an adult influence into the data collected; through this activity, the children were not creating the data?s direction, but instead appeasing my direction of interest. Furthermore, this may have influenced the types of drawings they created after these activities, and the gender markers that they emphasized may have been influenced by my drawings, rather than interpretations of them. Although this emphasizes a bias of responses, I would be wrong to imply that there exist unbiased qualitative research interactions. As argued by Kvale (1996), the question is ?not whether to lead or not to lead [through interview], but where the interview questions should lead, and whether they will lead in important directions, producing new, trustworthy, and interesting knowledge? (p. 159). Thus, it may be more valuable to critique the method I improvised as unwittingly leading to narrow responses from the children, precluding greater creativity, and disciplining the children?s responses to a maintained binary of gender.  	 ?	 ?24	 ?Data Analysis While doing the data analysis for this research, I idealistically subscribed to the following perspective from Lather (1991): ?Data might be better conceived as the material for telling a story where the challenge comes to generate a polyvalent data base that is used to vivify interpretation as opposed to ?support? or ?prove?? (p. 91). This is especially important in order to impose the least amount of dominance on the experiences of the young participants in this work with the intent of decreasing my own inevitable adult interpretations of this ?data.? Thus, I decided against the conventional use of deep coding for analysing these experiences towards a form of story telling through display of large chunks of data.  What I felt may better support Lather?s (1991) suggestion of ?telling a story? is the element of the Mosaic approach that mandates reflective analysis in research with young children (Clark, 2001, p. 31). Similarly, I followed the suggestion of: writing successive stories as you spend more and more time in the field [?to] evaluate not only how your understandings developed over time, but also how your initial understandings may have constrained what you could find because of where you initially looked. (Palys & Atchison, 2008, p. 309, citing Lofland & Lofland, 1995) Therefore, to analyse the data I followed the following steps: 1. Listened to the audio data, read observation data, read reflective notes repeatedly and on an ongoing basis, keeping events intact; 2. Noted recurrent trends as well as strong examples of trends and standouts outside of trends during successive engagements with data; 3. Wrote successive stories; 	 ?	 ?25	 ?4. Reproduced whole dialogues as "documentation" telling those stories for public analysis;  5. Opened story for critique;  6. Wrote other story lines for multiple possibilities, from other perspectives, and included them for others to read.  The thorough academic discussions of the Mosaic approach emphasize documentation as the initial step of ?analysis? in order to continue the cycles of listening to young children (Rinaldi, 2005; Clark & Moss, 2001). However, the scope of this project as a master?s thesis did not allow for this full process of reflecting on analytic meanings with the children. Nonetheless, by ?producing traces/documents that testify to and make visible the ways of learning of the individuals and the group? (Rinaldi, 2005, p. 23), this documentation within this thesis intended to enable a synthesis of information similar to Clark?s (2011) metaphor of the Kaleidoscope. Forming data as a Kaleidoscope allows all forms of data to be viewed publicly, aesthetically, and flexibly. Clark (2011) emphasizes that, rather than working from a ?scissors and sort? process, a Kaleidoscope-like synthesis allows interpretations to ?reflect children?s poetics and imaginal thought? (p. 176), thus attempting to disrupt traditional adult-like methods. This concept seems similar to MacLure's (2013) suggestion, inspired by Deleuze and drawing from Lugli (1986):  Rather than working under the auspices of metaphors such as tree, matrix or table, perhaps we could think of coding as the ongoing construction of a cabinet of curiosities or wunderkammer (wonder cabinet), [...considering] collection as a form of inquiry - an open-ended experimentation with, and receptivity to, bodies of knowledge whose contours and sub-divisions were constantly shifting and expanding. (p. 180)  	 ?	 ?26	 ?To do this, I aimed to provide transcripts of entire dialogues in order to demonstrate their density, productivity, and contradictions. This aimed to maintain the ethics of my approach to research with young children and the integrity of the data, thus ?taking full advantage of densely meaningful narratives, recitations, and enactments [?] to appreciate fully even while being systematic? (Clark, 2011, p. 176).  In the end, however, Clark?s (2011) phrase ?taking full advantage? should continue to resonate; despite my efforts to synthesize, celebrate, and honour children?s narratives, they continue to be my efforts and absolutely represent my own bias and agenda in decisions of inclusion, organization, and even what was researched in the first place. In attempts to improve the transparency of this process, my engagement of the Kaleidoscope display of data sought to make my interpretations ?tangible and capable of being interpreted? (Rinaldi, 2005, p. 23). Furthermore, I hoped to look at the data from various interpretations in order to acknowledge the fluidity and multiplicity of meaning in a given event and highlight the dynamic possibilities of each moment.   	 ?	 ?27	 ?Chapter Two: Literature Review: Negotiating Differences in Early Childhood Research has been done from various frameworks that usefully inform a discussion on how children negotiate their subjectivities in early childhood settings. Interestingly, the majority of this work draws on personal expressions from children, as it seemingly acknowledges a child?s active role in demonstrating and (re)creating what might constitute her or his ?identity.? The majority of these examples understand ?identity? in early childhood as a continuously evolving process, and it is unclear whether this process relies on assumptions of children?s status as being ?in development? or draws from a framework of fluid, or constructed selves. Thus, there are particular ways that scholars believe young children create their own ?identities,? which may explicate processes through which subjectivities are negotiated. The relevant literature points to multimodal forms in which children have been observed to (re)produce their identities. One example explicitly highlights self-creation through an arts-based journey that occurs throughout childhood. Specifically, Binder and Kotsopoulos (2010) explain that, through art, ?[w]hat is transforming for children is the understanding of their own inner landscapes where they can explore and validate their social and cultural ways of learning? (p. 22). What I believe this emphasizes is the creative processes that some children use in constantly making sense of their lives through the discourses available to them (Davies, 2000).   Meanwhile, social interaction is the strongest method through which children are thought to create their own identities, according to the literature. Komatsu (2010) framed this too as a creative process, referring to a ?self in interaction? as only one of multiple possible selves. From this point of view, the self is ?not stable knowledge or identity, [but?] emerges from the configuration of turns in the conversation [?] and from the observer?s active orientation to merge them into one integrated, meaningful presentation? (p. 219). In other words, the self evolves from 	 ?	 ?28	 ?social conversation, and an intelligible self is not inherent but instead mandated by social partners who reflect the discourse of a knowable identity. Drawing on sociocultural theory, Park (2011) also draws on the importance of social interactions from a ?developing? perspective through which ?identity? is seemingly developed through dialogue with a more experienced peer. Though it seems to consider identity as something to achieve through learning, this perspective continues the dialogic form of self-creation but must be expanded to a more fluid and evolving perspective of ?self.? While this emphasis on dialogue and/or social interactions may seem relevant only to children who are verbal, Mansson (2011) emphasizes that:  actions, body language, and emotional expressions are important parts of the interaction. [?] Children create meaning through the subject?s constant response to the environment and events, and at an early age, physical signals are particularly meaningful. (p. 11) Through this point, Mansson helps to broaden what is considered social interaction and expression and emphasizes a refocus on the various ways in which young children may express themselves and create meaning.   While I will highlight later how gendered discourses are examined in early childhood settings, some of the literature did point to the less dominant lines of marginalization that contribute to creations of ?identity? in early childhood. Park (2011) suggests that presence of multicultural materials that are not explicitly talked about presents a classroom culture through which ?diversity?? ? which she in particular uses to refer to racial and ethnic diversity ? ??is to be seen but not heard or spoken about? (p. 406). This exclusion is seemingly replicated in her observations of the classroom, ?where students, particularly older White girls with high status in the class, actively excluded students of color (of varying ages)? (p. 407). Children also seemed to 	 ?	 ?29	 ?recognize this. In the work of Jesuvadian and Wright (2011), young children used dolls to demonstrate an understanding of and empathy for the ways in which white and racialised children predominantly consider children of colour less attractive ? ? and are more often excluded. Furthermore, race is explicitly discussed between children through the process of othering (MacNaughton, 2005) and making ?claims to identities? (Park, 2011, p. 401), despite dominant discourses framing children as ?color innocent? (p. 388).   The dominant discourse of childhood innocence is prominent in hiding all forms of marginalization that are quite real in the actual experiences of young children. Most hidden behind childhood ?innocence? are oppressive discourses of heteronormativity. This was seemingly explored in only one study, in which Surrees and Gunn (2010) argued that conceptions of ?innocence? along with ?development? silenced the very real and observable ways in which young children?s play and interactions reflected their diverse understandings of love and relationships. Meanwhile, they posit that these discourses simultaneously encourage young children ?to construct themselves as heterosexual subjects? (p. 45) while precluding their capacity for creativity in how their ?identities? might intersect with sexuality. This is especially demonstrative of Butler?s (2008) understanding of self-disciplined subjectivities, where these children are given responsibility to create themselves, yet must do so within the strict confines of what qualifies them as an intelligible, heterosexual subject. Of course, as Butler (2008) famously contests, an identity is not coherent without an adequately performed gender; this is reflected in much of the literature in its emphasis on gender?s role in young children?s ?identities.?   Arguably, gender may be the most prominent discourse in the categorization of young children, whose sex is discussed, identified, and interpreted through gendered lenses even before birth. Thus, infants do enter the world as discursively pre-gendered beings, thus expected to fit 	 ?	 ?30	 ?intelligibly into very strict categories, which follow them quite closely throughout early childhood. This immersion enforces a strict gendered binary onto young children, to which most children vehemently adhere even within ?anti-bias? curriculums (Davies, 1989). At the same time, early childhood settings ? even when self-defined as ?anti-bias? ? are infused with discourses of gender which regulate the possibilities for young children. The literature especially highlights the aforementioned discourses of ?innocence? as strongly integrated with gender. For example, a practitioner named Sheralyn Campbell reflected on her own gendered notions of ?safety,? which regulated a gentle, calm, and unimposingly deficient space of femininity for preschool girls (MacNaughton, 2005). As such, preschool rules and adult reactions to behaviours become technologies of heteronormative and patriarchal discourses towards narrowed possibilities for young children.   This gendered disciplining occurred even with preverbal children. Mansson (2011) observed that the toddler classroom is ?a gender-producing setting where children?s conditions and opportunities differ? (p. 20). In this classroom, Mansson observed that the young girls were often positioned, through discourses of ?innocence? and ?development,? as ?needy? ? especially in situations of managing behaviour. Such a position ?can be problematized from a gender perspective [?as it demonstrates that] when girls take up space, becoming noisy and making demands, they are positioned as obstinate and angry? and have defied what is expected of them as girls (p. 16). This observation begins to illuminate the gendered ways in which children are positioned in relation to discourses qualifying them as good or bad.     	 ?	 ?31	 ?Fantasy Play Narratives  Woven within, through, and around the disciplinary structures imbedded in early childhood institutions, are cultural narratives surrounding children in and out of these settings. Extremely dominant in these are the popular culture packages sold to young children as a lifestyle. According to Wohlwend (2009),  Identity messages circulate through merchandise that surrounds young consumers as they dress in, sleep on, bathe in, eat from, and play with commercial goods decorated with popular culture images, print, and logos, immersing children in products that invite identification with familiar media characters and communicate gendered expectations about what children should buy, how they should play, and who they should be (New London Group, 1996). (p. 57) As identities for purchase, these ubiquitous narratives infiltrate children?s own lives, as well as their interpretation of how the world is structured. As lenses onto reality, children can use them as gateways to enacting power in their worlds. As Dyson (1996) points out,  In making use of popular and traditional cultural symbols (like Superman or Cinderella), children may position themselves within stories that reveal dominant ideological assumptions about categories of individuals and the relations between them. (p. 473).  Superhero Debates Educators, parents, and researchers are generally ambivalent about superheroes. While the literature in this field is numerous, that which discusses superheroes as children?s culture almost exclusively debates a moral panic of violence versus the ?prosocial? possibilities of superhero narratives, with further work encouraging ways in which the two poles can be mediated.  	 ?	 ?32	 ?Anxiety about superheroes is prevalent, and often results in the banning of such play in early childhood settings, though the play theme is recognized as a strong force in children?s lives (Anonymous, 2013; Bromley, 2010; Miller, n.d.; Fortis-Diaz, 1998). Some are concerned that ?Children?s creativity can be diminished. Superhero play can glamorize fighting and killing and foster unnecessary aggression? (Bauer & Dettore, 1997, p. 21). Furthermore, researchers emphasize ?superheroes? frequent use of violence? (Martin, 2007, p. 241), and the ?conflict-driven superhero play they see on TV, which can be quite physical.? From this comes an overarching concern of this play ?getting out of control? (Miller, n.d.), thus with an emphasized need for it to be ?managed? by ?redirecting the aggressive play? (Fortis-Diaz, 1998, p. 237). To facilitate this need for ?management,? scholars and educators provide many suggestions. Bauer and Dettore (1997) suggest educators ?help children develop and clarify roles for superheroes? (p. 20) towards emphasizing superheroes as prosocial and humane characters. De-Souza and Radell (2011) define the aim of redirecting superhero play as ?Allowing young children to explore the possibilities of heroism while feeling safe and not intimidating others,? declaring it ?both healthy and fun? (p. 31). The literature seems to argue that superhero play is sufficiently valuable to encourage educators and parents to help reframe it towards its more ?positive? potential.  Many scholars have emphasized the ways superhero narratives can encourage a dedication to justice, doing the right thing, forgiveness (Martin, 2007), problem solving, a helping attitude, courage, safety, and a feeling of control (Weinstein, 2011). Many supporters of superhero play seem to present adult concerns about the potential anxieties experienced by children, and believe using these narratives help children find their own power in their disenfranchised lives. This is heavily reflected in the breadth of research that introduces hero narratives to developmental tools, such as those intended to build social skills (Block, 2013; Karniol, Galili, Shtilerman, Naim, 	 ?	 ?33	 ?Stern, Manjoch, & Silverman, 2011; Hatcher & Petty, 2004), intervene with play therapy (Rubin, 2007; Haen, 2011), and develop literacy and numeracy skills (Meier, 2009; Clyde & Mills, 1993). These developmental tools are almost exclusively marketed to boys, interestingly reflected by Weinstein?s (2011) assertion that ?renewed interest in superhero play has come on the back of the [United Kingdom] Government?s push to raise achievement by boys? (p. 15) ? a concern paralleled in contemporary Canadian and American educational foci (e.g. Sokal, Katz, Chaszewski, & Wojcik, 2007; McMullen, 2004). Emphasizing superhero play as a solution to boys? achievement struggles seems to reflect the view of ?needing to modify the ?feminine? nature of schooling? (p. 477), exposed by Weaver-Hightower (2003) as reflecting backlash politics. Thus, it may be argued that using superheroes to empower ?children? is instead a panic against the fear of girls dominating boys in school.  The forms of ?prosocial? learning celebrated in popular superhero narratives, such as Batman, Spiderman, and Superman reflect a liberal society?s values of individualism, the idea of a clear right and wrong, and the dominance of power and strength. These notions of power and dominance are also paralleled by the discourse of hegemonic masculinity, defined by Connell (1995) as ?the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women? (p. 77). ?Children readily appropriate the struggles of superheroes as their own, using them as a cathartic force in the exploration of control in their own environment? (Marsh, 2000, p. 211), thus possibly using the narratives as a permitted method of fighting for power as an disempowered group. Marsh (2000) points out that superhero play allows children to ?explore the world in terms of its opposed extremes: good/evil, male/female, right/wrong? (p. 211), many of which are increasingly put upon them as they 	 ?	 ?34	 ?become three and four years old. However while they use this play to explore their realities of these discursive dichotomies, the narratives are well formulated to reinforce these binaries and encourage the ways in which they organize the world to privilege hegemonic white masculinity.  While much work evaluates the sexism, racism, and other oppressions of particular comics and hero narratives, the in-depth evaluation of the specific texts may not relate to their intersections with three- and four-year-olds? experiences of them, as many do not have access to these in their official forms. Some cultural critics have pointed to the nuances of different generations of superheroes that attempt to position and reposition the hegemonic role of the superhero, challenging dominant narratives, and highlighting the superhero lines that break the moulds. However, what is brought to young children is the overarching metanarrative of the sanitized, hyper-marketable superheroes, of which children generally receive only images, toys, and the occasional animated movie.  Licensed clothing, stories, and childhood items form the primary way in which these children learn about superhero-dom, a market that accomplishes something similar to the amalgamated Disney Princess line, and erases their variations and nuances while providing a very specific model of hegemonic, heteronormative manhood to young boys. As Jule (2011) points out:  Boys-as-superheroes is also marketed aggressively. Boys are to be active, violent, and powerful. Boys move in packs to achieve this hegemonic masculinity; they are ?one of the boys? and use guns and act aggressively towards girls or even the younger or weaker boys?[and] have the potential to undermine a fuller exploration of gender identity. (pp. 38-9) It is this gender identity and set of characteristics that is marketed to young boys, stemming from the overall ?mood? of comic narratives rather than their narratives. Thus, although he explores the 	 ?	 ?35	 ?racial nuances in various comic stories, for this age group Singer?s (2002) assertion remains primary:  Comics still perpetuate stereotypes, either through token characters who exist purely to signify racial clich?s or through a far more subtle system of absence and erasure that serves to obscure minority groups even as the writers pay lip service to diversity. (p. 118) Although education researchers who support superhero play emphasize its highlight on justice and goodness, what qualifies as ?good? is politically defined based on defending capitalism, whiteness, and a heterosexual ideal (Shugart, 2009). These overarching values are solidified by the obvious mainstay that, in the narratives available to young children, ?The hero is often male and white. The female heroine is always?  ?hot?? (Wanzo, 2009, p. 95), thus emphasizing to children who deserves to be, as Wanzo (2009) points out, ?the chosen one? (p. 95) and who is not deserving.  Although Jule (2011) may have a point in her belief that ?the superhero is not as problematic as the princess for young girls? [because] the more sustainable attribute of action make the superhero more helpful? (p. 39), the overarching narratives allot a disproportionate amount of power wielding to boys, and particularly to a boy with particular privileges. Interestingly, this power allotment is seemingly celebrated by the aforementioned supporters of superhero play, much of which evades the social power dynamics and oppressions that can stem from such a narrative of dominance through hegemonic masculinity. With a superhero, there is always someone ?saved,? and always a ?bad guy,? and supporting superhero play without acknowledging these associated positions may be equally problematic as the positions that overtly relegate young girls to docile positions.   	 ?	 ?36	 ?Uncontested Princesses Despite the popular debates over superhero play, princess narratives or play in young children?s lives are seemingly undisputed in the public sphere, such as in periodicals for educators or parents. However, some academics ? primarily cultural analysts and early childhood researchers ? have explored their imbedded messages and forms of integration. Although not all observed engagements with princess culture have revolved around Disney Princesses, the pervasiveness of this brand over others makes it the primary source of princess-related data for the three to four year age group, implying that non-specified princess narratives are likely still inspired by this consumer phenomenon. Unlike superhero play, whose play engagement is sometimes contested, princess storylines are culturally critiqued for their stereotypes, while most instances of play are lauded for their potential to subvert rigid gender lines.  Early childhood and education researchers have looked at children?s integration of princess narratives in both literacy activities, free-play, and integration of literacy and play projects. By encouraging children in primary school to author their own stories, MacGillivray and Martinez (1998) inadvertently accessed girls? interpretation of princess-ness, through which they joined the boy authors in ?creat[ing] worlds with powerful men and needy women? (p. 76). The stories written by girls primarily involved girl characters as central ? who were often princesses ? but who were victims in their own stories. They poignantly conclude that these stories ?show [them] what little girls in our society are learning about how their gender could or will define their lives? (p. 70), and that ?fairy tales as fantasy seemed to encourage rigid gender positioning? (p. 78).  The expressions of gender seen in MacGillivray and Martinez?s (1998) work reflected emphasized femininity, which Connell (1987) describes as the form of femininity ?defined around compliance with this subordination and is oriented to accommodating the interests and desires of 	 ?	 ?37	 ?men? (p. 184). Wohlwend (2009) points out that this femininity is reified by Disney?s Princess brand. She argues that it ?further amplifies the discourse of emphasized femininity by bringing together the eight heroines, homogenizing them by highlighting their common beauty ideal and washing out their slight variations in personality and power to control their own destinies? (p. 66) - the eight heroes being the princesses who headline the eight Disney princess movies . Jule (2011) echoes this interpretation of what princesshood is supposed to mean to children:  A princess accomplishes very little other than being beautiful. The princess is usually passive and objectified or praised for her appearance: because of this, she is an icon of the ultimate image of femininity (slim, long flowing hair, beautiful facial features, etc.). Her special and narrowly defined beauty is where the fantasy lies. Intelligence and competence are not necessary requirements for the job. (p. 33) As princesses act as a strong influence in the expression of young girls? own gender positions, girls seemingly learn their value as specifically appearance-based and as a submissive position to maleness. Not explicit in these definitions of a princess? value are their intersections with race and class, which are also strong in this idealized culture. In a recent article in The Washington Post, for example, the author argues that the princess culture of young girlhood teaches children ?from the earliest ages to revere and idealize symbols of wealth, power and inequality? (Levinson, 2013). This is reflected by MacGillivray and Martinez (1998) who observe that the idea of ?being ?plain and ugly? seemed to be attributed to a lack of money for clothes? (p. 81), relegating the less affluent to a status of less beautiful.   Possibly more salient, the Disney Princess brand and its full integration into young girls? lives promotes a homogenized value of whiteness, re-relegating coloured bodies to margins as ?exotic,? not-quite-princesses, while passably white-washed. Disneyfied princesses and their 	 ?	 ?38	 ?movies pervasively pit symbolism of whiteness as good and dark or blackness as bad, whether dressing good and evil characters, idealizing Snow White?s pure white skin, or Europeanizing ?exotic? characters to frame them as the heroes (Hurley, 2005). For the latter, contrary to their cultural traditions, Pocahontas and Mulan are each reframed as a westernized individual fighting for individual-framed ?rights? against her own culture (Cappiccie, Chadha, Bi Lin, & Snyder, 2012), through which the films actually vilify their cultures and therefore the cultures of the children who are supposed to relate to these princesses. Meanwhile, both Jasmine and Pocahontas are acknowledged as more scantily clad than the white princesses, and represent inauthentic ethnicized versions of the prototype or historical figure, respectively. As part of a mission to design what Kim (1995) exposed as supposedly ?the finest creature the human race has to offer? (p. 22): Glen Keane, the film?s supervising animator, researched the paintings of the real Pocahontas but wasn?t very impressed, so he made a few ?adjustments.? Besides her beautiful ?more Asian? eyes, he gave her a body with a wasp waist, sexy hips and legs, and breasts that are truly impressive. (Kilpatrick, 1995, p. 36) Furthermore, in the most recent film The Princess and the Frog (2009), ?Disney?s first animated black princess? and her brown-skinned love object pass off their colouredness for the majority of the movie by masquerading as frogs, a ?safe space? of colour-blindness provided to them by Disney (Gehlawat, 2010). These framings of the non-white princesses made available to young girls by Disney imply that an idealized non-white femininity is sexual, not availed modesty, and rejects its roots for the individualized culture of the west.   The individualized values pervasive in Disney storylines ? princess or non ? support their biggest driver: capitalism. Through Disney?s ?discovery? of the three- to five-year-old market to 	 ?	 ?39	 ?which they primarily market the Disney Princess line, children of this age have been ?colonized,? as put by Coulter (2012). She argues that Disney has infiltrated her children?s lives ?from the birthday parties they attend to the clothes they wear to the books they read at night? (p. 146); girls of this age specifically can conduct every single event and routine of their lives through the consumer products of the oversimplified Disney Princess brand. This provides a ?pervasive gendered metaphor for young children and gives children [a] critical message about what gender looks like and means? (Jule, 2011, p. 33). As mirrored in the stories accessed by MacGillivray and Martinez (1998), Disney?s princesses are emphatically submissive and at the mercy of the men in their story lines. As Orr (2009) points out, ?while the real power struggle [in most Disney princess films] seems to be among women, in actuality, they are competing for access to power through men, who may rule kingdoms? (p. 18). Thus, the breadth of this research implies very dangerously narrow positions available to young girls as emphasized femininity, including across race and class.   What in some ways counters these critiques is Wohlwend?s (2009; 2012; 2012) work within the princess-based play spaces of young girls and boys in an early childhood setting. Overall, the princess has been identified as ?a key focus in girls? play and fantasy life? (Jule, 2011, p. 33), which was equally mirrored in Wohlwend?s work as it was by MacGillivray and Martinez. The difference, however, is Wohlwend?s (2009) observation that ?[princess] play offered the opportunity to alter the character identity that comes prepackaged with commercial dolls and to reattach a play-inspired identity? (p. 66). Her very thorough exploration of these instances provides a much more complex and messy picture of the influence of princess narratives for young children. While the narratives are originally packaged for the children, the children in her study were able to use play to ?improvise to overcome gendered obstacles? (p. 77), and 	 ?	 ?40	 ??accomplish social work in the classroom in complicated ways: to restrict peers but also to create spaces for accessing, improvising, and animating otherwise unreachable identity texts? (Wohlwend, 2012, p. 607), including ones in which boys could be princesses. She illustrates a play world through which children can dialogically negotiate the positions for themselves and socially produce new narratives through the media already important to them.  While critiques of the princess narratives highlight a pervasive disempowerment of positions girls can occupy, what is evident in Wohlwend?s work is the power exercised by girls through these narratives, which allowed them to control the direction of the play. This is highlighted in Orr?s (2009) explanation of the interest of this age group in princesshood: ?A prince may not only be irrelevant to little girls; he may actually get in the way. After all, little girls like being princesses, at least partly, because of power? (p. 20). Thus Wohlwend emphasizes the importance of encouraging these narratives to be acted out in play, allowing them to ?experience dissonance? (2009, p. 77) towards recreating the narratives to better suit their desires. However, the pervasively commodified packaging of the princess may preclude this active engagement. As Jule (2011) points out,  All-princess-all-the-time prevents larger understandings of the world. A total immersion into the princess world limits meaningful connections with a larger world, one that includes sports, museums, outdoors, other books and learning activities. (p. 40) Thus, the engagement with princess narratives may challenge the stereotypical positions they provide, the ubiquity of the Disney Princess brand itself as a lifestyle rather than play material may point to the primary ways in which young girls are consuming and using princesshood.    	 ?	 ?41	 ?All being as gendered. All gender as masquerade. Given that princess and superhero discourses are imbued with capitalist rhetoric and have become a vehicle through which cultural capital can be gained for some children, it is no surprise that brands such as Disney have capitalized on the creation of a lifestyle, rather than merely creating toys that can be discarded. The pervasive nature of these fantasy worlds is undeniable, as highlighted by academics such as Jule (2011) and witnessed firsthand by many parents and early childhood practitioners. Engaging fantasy as reality seems reflective of Butler?s conceptualization of performative gender. Children are acutely aware of how their bodies are strictly regulated in early childhood spaces. As such, ?children?s identities are connected to their failure or success in managing their bodies in accordance with their teachers? demands? (Leavitt & Power, 1997, p. 66) meaning that they ?not only must maintain bodily control but must be seen by their teachers and peers to do so. They must ?stage? their bodies for both adult and peer approval or suffer the consequences? (p. 53). Thus, a child?s life is highly performative. While part of this is performing ability and docility, gender is highly regulated on and within these children?s bodies. As Butler (2008) argues, there is no pre-gendered body. With this, Martin (1998) argues, ?hidden school curriculum of disciplining the body is gendered and contributes to the embodiment of gender in childhood, making gendered bodies appear and feel natural? (p. 495). Although she seemingly uses a developmental lens, Martin aims to connect early years institutions to gender performativity, a poststructuralist feminist reconceptualization of gender as a masquerade. This concept was first presented by Riviere (1929) in her now infamous argument, ?Womanliness therefore could be assumed and worn as a mask, both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisals expected if she was found to possess it? (p. 38). Building from Riviere, Butler (2008) argues that 	 ?	 ?42	 ?there is nothing ?before? the mask or the accompanying masquerade, instead defining the masquerade as  the means by which femininity itself is first established, the exclusionary practice of identity formation in which the masculine is effectively excluded and instated as outside the boundaries of a feminine gendered position (p. 65) Through this definition she asserts, ?the inner truth of gender is a fabrication? (p. 186), and that the entirety of genderedness is masqueraded.  Thus, a thorough read of Butler?s (2008) discussion of masquerade is arguably an essential component to the influence of the fantasy gender play of young children. She argues: gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts. The effect of gender is produced through the stylization of the body. (p. 191)  This body stylization, Martin (1998) and Leavitt and Power (1997) might argue, is shaped and disciplined in early childhood. Early childhood spaces become the public institutions that regulate how children stylize their bodies with ?the strategic aim of maintaining gender within its binary frame? (Butler, 2008, p. 191). Davies (1989) has identified this ubiquitous gender binary as key in children?s supposedly ?natural? enthusiastic adherence to stereotypical genderedness. As pervasive and limited worlds of fantasy, the masquerade inherent within superhero and princess roles seems to be a particularly key component in understanding children?s engagement with gendered masquerade, especially considering Butler?s (2008) declaration that ?a true gender is a fantasy instituted and inscribed on the surface of bodies? (p. 186, emphasis added).  	 ?	 ?43	 ? The fantasy of a true gender serves to define bodies, but also to instil perpetual striving for a fantasized ideal that cannot be reached: all bodies will fail to perform gender ?correctly? in one way or another. Butler (2008) explains the nuances of such a system: The paternal law as the inevitable and unknowable authority before which the sexed subject is bound to fail [?] guarantees failure [and] is symptomatic of a slave morality that disavows the very generative powers it uses to construct the ?Law? as a permanent impossibility. (p. 77) People buy into and defend the concept of a ?natural? genderedness, thus masking the ways in which they are set up to fail. As children become devoted to the gender binary and their own ?natural? gender, as exposed by Davies (1989), they seem to reflect exactly the system of which Butler speaks. It seems to be an anxiety of gender failure that motivates the masquerade; as Holmlund (2002) claims, it is ?fear and narcissism? (p. 222) that lies behind masquerades of both femininity and masculinity. The masquerade comes about in order to cling to a coherent identity that does not truly exist:  According to the understanding of identification as an enacted fantasy or incorporation, however, it is clear that coherence is desired, wished for, idealized, and that this idealization is an effect of a corporeal signification. (Butler, 2008, p. 185) I argue that children learn their bodies are in need of control and evaluation ? are necessarily gendered ? and this is created through the provided coherent fantasies put on them through superheroes and princesses.   Furthermore, masquerade has been consistently discussed as a way in which to access power. While Tiana in The Princess and the Frog has already been analysed to access freedom and safety through her masquerade as a frog (Gehlawat, 2010), Irigaray (1985) argues, ?the 	 ?	 ?44	 ?masquerade [of femininity]?is what women do?in order to participate in man?s desire, but at the cost of giving up their own? (p. 185). While primarily a feminist concept about feminine masquerade, Butler (2008) frames all genderedness as a performative masquerade, while others argue there is a specific but unique masquerade of masculinity (Weltzein, 2005; Moss, 2008). Femininity as masquerade is said to be distinguishing oneself from masculinity for the benefit of masculinity (Riviere, 1929; Butler, 2008; Irigaray, 1985), while Moss (2008) portrays masculine masquerade as the erasure of femininity, and ?fashioning [oneself] in the likeness of a predecessor, either imagined or named? (p. 391) yet always ?exquisitely masculine? (p. 392). Both are framed in relation to heteronormative hegemonic masculinity ? accessing masculine power to the extent they may.  Interestingly, Davies (2003) suggests that those subjects without a coherent ?inherited? identity are better at acquiring the ability to masquerade. Beloff (2003) seemingly agrees in likening masquerade to camouflage, which she suggests, ?is used by a marginal, despised, discreditable group that wishes to avoid being actually labelled [as deviant]? (p.61). Young children are marginalized by age and explicitly monitored for deviance from normalcy. Thus, while Davies? and Beloff?s arguments in many ways assume a genuine self beneath the masquerade, young children?s engagement with a gendered masquerade and especially the heightened gender performances in fantasies of princesses and superheroes might be a reaction to this marginalization. Through engagement with these, children access some power in managing the information gathered about themselves and their relationship to ?normal? (Beloff, 2003). The data in this research explores how the children at Allegra negotiated their own positions and organized their social worlds through fantasy narratives.    	 ?	 ?45	 ?Chapter Three: Data Interpretation: Masqueraded Gendering  Although superhero and princess themes in an early childhood centre are typical, they are not unremarkable. Through conversations, observations, and the daily activities at Allegra, the children showed me the nuances of how these narratives structured their selves and their social lives. The concept of gender as masquerade seemed to weave through how they negotiated themselves and their positions as children in the setting. This was shown through four main themes: an attempt to embody the perfect male child, culminating in the use of superhero narratives in regulating selves and others, and very specific visual markers of girlhood, emphasized through the engagement of princess narratives to regulate selves and others. Overall, these narratives gave children the opportunity to create themselves and have an impact on their worlds, but simultaneously subjected them to unquestioned truths of an unequal society. The Perfect Male Child As young boys ? also holding the status of being older children in the program ? Finn, Rylin, and Nathaniel were simultaneously encouraged to compete for social power by means of hegemonic masculinity, but just as consistently reminded that they do not and are not permitted to engage power through their status as children. In many ways, these three boys, and to a lesser extent, Elijah, attempted to forge their childhood masculinity in ways reflective of the research I outlined in the previous section. Increasingly aware of how their bodies are expected to perform, they attempted to frame themselves in a way that merged hegemonic masculinity and the optimal child body in an early childhood setting. They attempted to distance themselves and other male characters from femininity, demonstrate their optimal ability and strength, and prove masculine superiority in ability and strength. The culmination of this lies in a steadfast dedication to the identity of a superhero.  	 ?	 ?46	 ?As previously suggested, children are acutely aware of the gendered positions to which they must conform their bodies. Davies (1989) surmises that children hold steadily to gender stereotypes because they are aware of the binary frame of gender that ?[is] understood to found and consolidate the subject? (Butler, 2008, p. 191). These boys ? including Elijah ? used their understanding of a gender binary to distance themselves and ?masculine characters? from the position they know they should not occupy, in order to eke out their coherent gender. However, Elijah often used language and fantasy to position himself as masculine and specifically not-feminine regardless of how his body performance was interpreted, and even enacted resistance to a rigid masculinity.  Although Elijah was not consistent in his gender performance, he often denied his connection to femininity. When asked if he liked a drawing of a princess, he was quick to reject it and suggested a ?big spider? instead; when asked his opinion of a Barbie dress, he grumpily referred to it as ?garbage.? He often mislabelled colours, but seemed to clearly understand the expected gendering of colours, such as in the following conversation:  Elijah (wearing a pink shirt): You can?t be Spiderman! Me (wearing a blue shirt): Why not? Elijah: Because you?re wearing a pink shirt Me: I?m not wearing a pink shirt!  Elijah: Yea you are! Me: You?re wearing a pink shirt! Elijah: I?m wearing a green shirt! You?re wearing a pink shirt and I?m wearing a green shirt and I have Spiderman everything.  In the first place, that he agreed to wear a pink shirt could be interesting; however, if he did not acknowledge it as pink, can wearing it be considered remarkable? Though it is possible that he chose it personally, appreciating it aesthetically regardless of what colour it might be labelled. In any case, Elijah could seemingly assert power over the meaning ascribed to his shirt through language and fantasy. This seemed to be achieved particularly by flipping himself to the 	 ?	 ?47	 ??right? side of a gendered binary: he distanced me from Spiderman via my ?pink shirt,? establishing them as opposites, and positioned himself on the Spiderman side via his ?green shirt? which he also positions as opposite from a ?pink shirt.? Seemingly, this fantasy was engaged to masquerade as appropriately performing masculinity and distanced from femininity. He further seems to attempt to strengthen this position through a capital claim of owning ?Spiderman everything.? This may suggest that by claiming appropriately gendered costume ? in this case a green shirt ? and an ownership of Spiderman things, Elijah could find his own access to the label of Spiderman. However, another possibility lies in this example as well as that of the Barbie dress and princess drawing: Elijah may have found value and power in our adult/child dynamic by providing contradictions and denials to what was suggested about or asked of him. He may also have felt called to perform masculinity because of what is being asked or suggested; to him, these may have been ?test? questions with a ?correct? answer expected by the asker. However, if this is the case, his engagement in its call was fluid. In one case, while wearing a crown and going about the classroom, a teacher asked him ?are you the king of Allegra?? he replied ?No! I?m a superbunny!? While the possibility of deliberate denial may be integrated, his response contradicted a potential call to masculinity. Through donning the mask of a ?superbunny,? he was embodying a challenge to the supposed rigidity of the superhero?s masculinity. He was free to create a position of his own of supposed contradictions and deny masculine-housed power of the position of ?king.? Through these observations, he seemingly wove in and out of masqueraded masculinity, while consistently contradicting what others suggested or asked of him.  Finn, Nathaniel, and Rylin much more consistently distanced themselves, male characters, and boys in general from femininity. Their refusals were solid and often ?explained? as self-	 ?	 ?48	 ?evident. When I asked him ?do you know the best part of being a princess?? Finn responded in a voice of disgust ?no? ?cause I don?t like princesses.? Although the question did not inherently connect him to princessness, the content might have stirred an anxiety imploring him to distance himself from knowing anything about that topic. However, by phrasing the question as ?do you know? likely contributed to Finn?s reaction. In the first place, the close-ended question calls upon a binary where he knew or did not, implying there was a right/wrong binary that may be tied to his gendered performance. The potential accusation imbedded in this question further implied a correct answer, especially as an adult who has been interrogating the children?s relationship with gender, something that was clear to the children. As I have also argued that children in a child care centre are aware that their bodies and genders are to be performed ?right,? my questions may have been interpreted as one of those demands to ?pass? as appropriately gendered bodies. Thus, were he anxious over a connection to princesses, it is quite possible that my position created that anxiety. Meanwhile, talking about an androgynous football player I had drawn, Rylin emphasized that the player does not like flowers nor bunnies, reasoning ?they just don?t!? Through this, he may have been emphatically ensuring that he passed a perceived gender test through my questions.  The densest conversation demonstrating the necessary distancing of boys from femininity occurred in the following exchange: Me: Well why don?t you tell me the rules of being a boy? Nathaniel: Well boys are not a princess? Me: Ok. Nathaniel: And they don?t wear a dress?  Me: Oh? Nathaniel: But some boys do Me: Ok. Nathaniel: And I don?t know any boys who wear a dress anyways Me: Ok. What do you think about that? Nathaniel: I think that? no boy has a dress. ?girls have dress. 	 ?	 ?49	 ?Me: Really? What else? what do boys have to do? Nathaniel: Boys? they have to wait for dinner the little ones? but the big kids? they don?t have to wait for dinner ?cause they can make it for themselves.  As a conversation that came soon after his female peer?s emphatic proclamations that princesses are girls and must wear dresses (see the final section of this chapter), Nathaniel seemingly understood my question as a continuation of that debate. Through this progression, he reflected my uncritical dependence on the binary: if there are rules for girls as princesses, what are the rules for boys? Such a binary underlying my question positioned boys as the opposite of girls and a necessity of seemingly inherent rules for both ? rules that must therefore be opposites as well. It may be interesting that Nathaniel drew boundaries for boys around the ways their bodies cannot perform or be seen, rather than they way boys must perform or be seen. Through this, he explicitly distanced himself from what has been determined as feminine, though few other possibilities were provided for him through my question.  Illustrating the strong pull of the binary, possibly emphasized also by my adult gaze of implied evaluation, Nathaniel was first seemingly drawn out of the binary in discussing boys in dresses. When he says ?but some boys do [wear dresses],? he is likely referring back to images he had been shown of men in kilts earlier that week. However, the linguistic binary implied in boyness in opposition to girlness and exacerbated in my questioning denied that experience and redisciplined him to conclude: ?no boy has a dress? because ?girls have dress.? Interestingly, once he concludes about boys in terms of gender, potentially to satisfy my agenda, he directs the conversation to a different binary that governs him: adult/child. The spontaneity of this may imply its greater importance to his experience and his current thoughts about his body positionality. Engaging the discourse of ?becoming,? Nathaniel pointed out the vulnerable position of being ?little? and its inferiority position, through which he was not yet considered capable of feeding his 	 ?	 ?50	 ?body when he pleased. This may be suggestive of the domination my adulthood holds in conversations with him and potentially the other children, superseding my own femaleness and the ways in which they considered gender.   This may be prescriptive of a greater emphasis on observations over conversational data. The way Finn, Rylin, and Nathaniel performed their bodies in classroom activities reflected their ambivalent position between maleness and obedience ? an embodiment often retained as feminine. An example is the following observation: During the weekly yoga class, the yoga teacher ? a female ? encouraged all of the children to put the soles of their feet together, hold a finger antenna from each hand up beside their heads with their elbows out, embodying ?a very pretty butterfly.? Rylin performed the task and proclaimed loudly over the yoga instructor ?mine is a Spiderman butterfly!? Finn retorted in a competitive tone, sitting cross-legged without attempting to be a butterfly ?well mine is a germs butterfly!? Nathaniel piped in from the other side of the room, waving his elbows and knees: ?mine is already flying!? He continued to fly for a moment, waiting to be acknowledged by Rylin and Finn; when he went unacknowledged, he flopped his arms down from their antenna position.   When asked to engage in an arguably feminine task of embodying both a butterfly and ?prettiness,? these three boys engaged in three different ways but all navigated the task to achieve ideal forms of masculinity and ?goodness.? Rylin, seemingly the leader of the group, took the dominant route of entangling superhero discourse into his ?good child? obedience of butterfly embodiment. Finn called upon the dirtiness and shock encouraged by boyhood by loudly declaring his butterfly a ?germs butterfly,? though challenged adherence to goodness in his nonparticipation. Nathaniel did not attempt to morph his butterfly, but aimed for competing with his peers on his butterfly?s physical competence and his ?good child? ability to anticipate the next instruction and physically achieve it. The competitive nature of this act is clear when ? once ungratified ? he abandoned his butterfly and stopped participating, arguably the most benign form of child rebellion.  	 ?	 ?51	 ?Although they all seemingly aimed for demonstrated ?obedience? in the task, their negotiations with participation and skill seemingly depended upon each other?s approval rather than the adults of the space. All three participated in the task discursively with each other, trying to compete on masculinizing the butterfly. However, Finn seemed comfortable achieving this ?goodness? without physical participation, while Nathaniel?s participation was seemingly dependent on his peers. When he forfeited his claim for peer approval, he stopped participating, seemingly unconcerned with adult approval. They seemingly resisted full obedience to the yoga teacher?s vision of being a ?pretty butterfly? while trying to claim obedience between each other; they may have considered their peers? evaluation of their ?goodness? above hers. As an adult woman, only joining the Allegra group one hour a week, interest in her approval was generally fleeting. Rylin in particular would demonstrate bursts of loud, embodied excitement for her view towards the beginning of the yoga session, but would seemingly turn to engaging loudly with Finn ? sometimes over the yoga teacher?s voice ? when not reciprocated by the yoga teacher. Potentially a factor in this is the yoga teacher?s gender presentation as female.  Had the yoga teacher been male, to whom would these boys perform their masculinity, and what would it look like?  How would they interpret the task of embodying a ?pretty little butterfly,? and how might they enact their position of ?child? in opposition to ?adult??  Optimal Ability and Obedience: The Art of Hoop-Jumping The children who participated in this research in the age category of latter half of three-years-old and older ? thus all but Elijah ? seemed particularly interested in proving the ability and obedience that they understood as demanded of them, done dominantly through competitive comparisons among one another and against younger children. General examples of this included successfully colouring within the lines, sitting quietly and ?criss-cross apple sauce,? correctly 	 ?	 ?52	 ?answering questions, and using polite and ?friendly? language. As shown in the following event, the children knew there were optimal ways to perform their child bodies within the boundaries of ?good? in early childhood: A group of the children were colouring the Olympic rings. Towards the end of colouring his rings, Nathaniel declared loudly ?I have the right colours? to properly colour the rings according to the teacher?s model, while checking to ensure that other children, including looking pointedly at Rylin, were aware of his success.   By aiming to prove their optimal obedience and ability, these children attempted to prove their fit as a ?good child? as defined discursively within the child care centre, and greater societal discourses enforced by developmental science, the education system, and economic interests. Here I repeat Leavitt and Power?s (1997) argument that children ?must ?stage? their bodies for both adult and peer approval or suffer the consequences? (p. 53), which seemed clear in Nathaniel?s checking for other children?s awareness of his success.  The children who felt compelled to adhere to performance rules, also felt compelled to ensure other children ? as well as myself ? attempted to self-discipline within these boundaries. This was clear in the following conversation:  Me: Why can?t we scribble?!?! Rylin: I?M not scribbling!!! Me: I know, but why can?t we scribble?! Rylin: Because? we don?t wanna? we have to stay in the lines! (at this point, I begin to scribble on my colouring page) Rylin: NOOOO! You can?t scribble!  This exchange shows that, to Rylin, scribbling was self-evidently bad, implying that a child?s way of colouring is a measurement of her or his ability, and this discourse has become ?common sense? to Rylin. My original questioning of the practice shows Rylin?s anxiety of being judged as less able and therefore scribbling, causing him to quickly defend himself. This anxiety might have come from the ambiguous line between ?scribbling? and ?colouring,? which in Allegra had been 	 ?	 ?53	 ?framed as a rigid binary. Due to this ambiguity, he had previously debated over his own work at Rosalynn?s accusation that he was scribbling. By the point of this conversation, he had asserted power over this form of evaluation by imposing it upon me, and positioning himself as banisher and determiner of ?scribbling.? It is important to note that Elijah ? for whatever reason ? did not seem interested in the competition of ability, though took the chance to enforce real or imagined rules to me when he felt like doing so. He knew the narrative of disciplining one?s body for an early childhood setting, enacted power over me with it, but did not concern himself with performing within it.  By attempting to position themselves as more skilled and able in their daily events, and further narrating stories to position maleness as more capable than femaleness, the boys used discourses valued in an educational setting to accrue power over other children. Jacobson (2010) points this out in school narratives, saying  The assumption here is that differentiation is important both in school and in life. Hence, motivational discourse within school dictates that one finds one?s place in comparison over and against one?s classmates. Ranking becomes a means of motivation through differentiation. (p. 268) Thus, the setting of an early childhood centre ? especially one that emphasizes school-readiness ? unwittingly supports the use of masculine- and ability-based power to dominate other children, since ?the discourse of who counts and who does not becomes linked with who dominates? (Jacobson, 2010, p. 273). As Rylin, Nathaniel, and Finn continuously proved their own ability over others through the discourses that encourage this, such as defining who scribbles and who does not, they boost their own position as ?good children? by dominating others.   	 ?	 ?54	 ?Masculinized Superior Ability Though often obedience in a daycare setting demands a docility that may be considered performing femininity, these boys used narratives that assign superior ability ? which can be considered necessary in proper obedience ? to masculinity, as many dominant discourses of ability tend to do. By doing this, they could align themselves with hegemonic masculinity, while performing docile obedience. This was demonstrated most clearly when I asked the children to interpret the stories they would ask me to read. For example, in the following exchange, Rylin denied my integration of princesses into his book about racing cars, eventually mimicking a stereotyping narrative of ?female drivers.? This was deduced despite a lack of images or naming of drivers in the story, where only the cars with tinted windows were pictured; the implied drivers remained necessarily male.  Me: Princesses can drive racecars! Rylin: No they can?t!  Me: Why not? Rylin: Actually they can! Me: They can? Rylin: No they can?t!  Me: Why not?  Rylin: Because? they just don?t know, they don?t know how to drive cars. Me: Why not? Rylin: Cuz they don?t know. Me: Why? Rylin: Cuz they just don?t. Me: Who knows how to drive racecars? Rylin: Only race guys. Me: Only race guys? What about race girls? Are there race girls? Rylin: Yea. Me: There are race girls? Rylin: No.  (later)  Me: What would happen if there were girl drivers? Rylin: They will smash [other boy]?s car.  	 ?	 ?55	 ?Some nuances within this exchange go further to challenge a simply gender-based interpretation. My integration of princesses into the storyline may have drawn resistance for multiple reasons: the story is well known by Rylin and so he may have been attempting to correct my change to the story. Further, he may be denying princesses? ability to drive racecars based on their acceptable storylines as opposed to solely their gender. This of course integrates gender but does so through the underlying connotation of princess narratives, which Rylin is not necessarily calling upon.   Furthermore, Rylin?s exclusion of princesses from driving racecars is ambivalent throughout the discussion, which becomes a debate in which he switches sides at whim. Rather than his opinion of princesses as racecar drivers or the existence of ?race girls,? switching his opinion and eventually asserting refusal to include a group that I clearly wish to include may have evolved into a form of meaningful play for him. For Rylin, the exchange may be more about asserting power in our adult/child, interrogator/interrogated dynamic, which he may engage through the language game of defining and redefining the boundaries of who may occupy the space of the actor in racecar driving. Thus, as Rylin successfully defines boundaries as ?guys? as the only potential racecar drivers, their suggested opposite ? through my increasing reliance on a binary of gender in this discussion ? must therefore fail at racecar driving by ?smashing? where true racecar drivers would not.   However, through this conversation, we both follow a gender binary discourse that leads Rylin to re-discipline himself as well as me to the masculine status quo of racecar driving. My suggestions in this conversation rely on this status quo as understood, and thus it speaks louder than my actual words. Rylin?s ambivalent position in the discussion may have been in response to two simultaneous pulls: my expectations, given power through my position of adult, and the 	 ?	 ?56	 ?discourse of a normal, masculine storyline of racecar drivers; the dominant discourse pushes through and wins. Although these children either could not or would not explain their reasons for denying female characters? abilities or positions, they emphasized the importance of strength in many of their interactions, conversations, and play. By exploring this further in directed conversations, I learned that the children were particularly clear on who holds strength and ?power,? determined by them in size, age, and most notably gender. In the following discussion that included Rosalynn, Nathaniel, and Finn, images in a storybook were interpreted to assign strength to some over others. The book was typical of family-centred stories for this age group: it featured a heterosexual ?nuclear? family of animals, with a father and mother and two children - the boy child older and the girl child younger, following a popular pattern that seemed to implicitly emphasize male importance. Like in many stories, the male child was the main character of the story. As this story centred on celebrating father?s day, extended family was introduced: the paternal grandfather and grandmother. After reading the story, we looked at two images. Image One is the front cover, the four main family members in portrait style stood in two rows (from left) father and mother behind the brother and sister. Image Two was the last page of the book as the gathering was ending: grandmother was carrying a large pile of presents to the car as the grandfather said goodbye to the father, mother, brother, and sister. The following conversation came from examining these two images: (Image One)  Me: Who?s the strongest? Rosalynn: Dad! Me: The dad? Why? Rylin: ?Cause he?s bigger. Me: ?Cause he?s the biggest? Rylin: Ya!  Me: Why do you think so Nathaniel? 	 ?	 ?57	 ?Nathaniel: Because he can lift a whole car Me: How do you know? Nathaniel: Because he?s the strongest Me: How come?....why? Nathaniel: I don?t know why  (Image Two) Me: Who?s the strongest here? Nathaniel: The strongest? (N points to grandpa) Me: How come?  Nathaniel: Because he?s grandpa. Me: And? What makes him stronger? Finn: No the grandpa? Jennifer the grandpa?s not the strongest.  Me: Why? Finn: ?Cause he?s not the dad Me: Only the dad?s the strongest? Finn: Yea Me: But why not mom? Finn: Because the grandpa? (audio cuts, remainder of utterance is lost) Me: Why isn?t mom the strongest? Nathaniel: No dad?s the strongest  Me: Okay but why not mom? Nathaniel: ?Cause she?s not ever the strongest Me: Why? Nathaniel: ?Cause she?s not?  (later)  (Image Two) Me: Who?s the best? Nathaniel: Dad Finn: Dad!  Me: Why? Finn: Because Me: Because why?  Finn: Because the dad is? most power Me: He has the most power? Finn: Yes   (later)  Me: Who?s the strongest here? (Finn points to dad) Me: But isn?t she carrying the most presents? (points to grandma) Finn: Yea but she doesn?t have enough power Me: Why? 	 ?	 ?58	 ?Finn: Because she doesn?t have enough power!!!  Clearly here, Rylin, Nathaniel, Finn, and Rosalynn were associating adult males with strength and power, maintaining this association consistently, including in the face of a counter-argument. However, these ideas seemed to be implied in the status quo images of heterosexual, male-headed family found in the book, and potentially reinforced by my questioning: by asking who is the strongest, I imply that one is the strongest, and draw from an uncomplicated masculine-dominated definition of physical strength. As I continued to perpetuate and even strengthen the implied patriarchal discourse in the story, the children may have been further encouraged to do the same. Again, as I argued against them, I implied the norm as the male adult figures as the strongest, and the children were subtly encouraged to acknowledge the ?correct,? ?normal? configuration. The texts seemingly served as law, and trumped potential interest in appeasing my adult position as ?right.?  What is left for questioning is how the conversation may have gone with a text that challenged these norms. However, by engaging with the stories requested by the children, it may suggest which stories and which narratives were of value to them. Furthermore, counter narratives were not observed in any available stories during my presence in Allegra. Seeing as the narratives running through these storybooks seemed to be the dominating factors in their positions in these conversations, alternative resources may provide a greater range of possibilities for these children. Perhaps this may create greater insight into whether the text of storybook is held as unquestionable, or whether the children are unwilling to depart from the dominant discourses that these particular stories perpetuate. The latter possibility reflects what Davies (1989) observed in asking for children?s reactions to The Paper Bag Princess (1980), a feminist fairytale that children interpreted and responded to through a patriarchal bias.  	 ?	 ?59	 ?Furthermore, to build on the discussion of the story?s images, I asked these children to elaborate on the idea of power and holding strength. Me: how does somebody get power? Finn: I don?t know!  Nathaniel: From their food!  Rylin: At the power store!  Me: At the power store? How does a person have power though? Rylin: Just does Me: How? Rylin: By going to the grocery store!  Me: Who in this room is the strongest?  Rylin: Umm Mr. head!  Me: Mr. head! I see no mister head? What do you think Finn, who in this room is the strongest? (no answer) Me: What about you Nathaniel? (no answer)  Me: What about you Rosalynn, who do you think is the strongest? Rosalynn: I don?t know  (Rylin goes in front of Rosalynn to flex his muscles to prove he is the strongest)  Rylin: In Allegra? Rylin and Me and Nathaniel Me: Why?  Rylin: Because he always play with me and? we?re superheroes!   Very interestingly, Rylin engaged a hegemonic act of heterosexual masculinity to prove to the only girl child in the conversation that he is visibly muscular and strong, seemingly aiming to ?win? her assessment of strength over the potential others. In this act, he demonstrated awareness of the ways in which one?s embodiment could attribute him a dominant masculinity that he perceived as preferred by the female child, as well as expected rituals of winning girls? affection. He did not engage in this when Finn and Nathaniel considered their answers. They also seemed to intersect economic access with gendered strength and power, as they claimed these are acquired at various stores. Furthermore, by drawing on the superhero discourse, Finn was able to position himself and his group of friends as the strongest people in the daycare centre, including teachers.  	 ?	 ?60	 ?While it may be ambiguous whether they believed I meant to include only children, the following exchange clears up that the adults of Allegra were excluded due to their gender.  Me: Are you strong? Finn: I don?t know Me: What about me, am I strong? Finn: No Me: No? Why not? Finn: Only big boys!  Me: What about big girls! Finn: No Me: No? Why not? Finn: Because!  Me: Because why? Finn: Cuz it?s only big boys only.   The claim to strength was seemingly instrumental to these boys to claim dominance, including in social situations that in no way seemed to hold strength as a factor. An example of this was the following event, which occurred on my first day of data collection, before engaging in any research conversations: I take a break from pushing Nathaniel on the swing to push another older, female child on her swing. Nathaniel: No don?t push her higher! I have to be higher than her. Me: Why? Nathaniel: ?Cause I?m a big strong boy and she?s just a little girl.  Through this argument, Nathaniel attempted to engage my position as a way to obtain power, as found also by Gallacher and Gallagher (2008), justifying his dominance over a female child through the strength he could ?naturally? claim as a male child. Although whether or not one gets pushed on the swing to a certain height does not seem to relate to strength, Nathaniel called upon it as the reason I should push him more and higher than I did his female peer. To him, it was self-evident that his supposed strength should allow him dominance over female peers in all aspects of the child care setting, especially because he maintained his position after I told him that the child in question was in fact older and bigger than him. If necessary, this position of dominance could 	 ?	 ?61	 ?be enacted physically over a female peer, such as when Nathaniel was observed struggling in a tug-of-war over a toy that both he and a female peer wanted to use.  Me: So? how did you feel when you were pulling the toys with [female child?s name] Nathaniel: Happy!! Me: Yea? (laughs) Why?  Nathaniel: ?Cause I?. (trails off) Me: ?Cause you what?  Nathaniel: ?Cause I wanted to. Me: You wanted to pull the toys from her? Nathaniel: And I?m Very Strong!  Me: Ohhh and it shows that you?re really strong? ?is she strong?  Nathaniel: No!  Me: Why? (no answer) Me: Why not?  Nathaniel: ?Cause I don?t want her to be strong!   Here Nathaniel admitted that his struggle with the female child was engaged to prove his dominance, and he reveled in his success. By doing this he successfully performed hegemonic masculinity at the risk of sacrificing ?goodness? in the early childhood setting.  The Culmination: Superhero-dom An interest in violent play is considered ?typical? and expected of maleness, but considered unacceptable behaviour of the ?good child? in a child care setting. To mediate this arguably impossible intersection of social demands, Rylin, Nathaniel, and Finn navigated their understanding of the child care setting, the expectations of their gender performance, and the boundaries of the ?good child? in attempts to best masquerade an inoccupiable identity position. By assuming the identity of superhero, these male children were able to inhabit a position as the ideal boy child in the eyes of peers, teachers, and themselves. As Anggard (2011) points out, superhero and fighting play are instrumental for boys to distance selves from femininity, especially including active exclusion of girls from the play, to define maleness as distant from femaleness. Thus this play continued the demonstrated distance and dominance the boys had been 	 ?	 ?62	 ?asserting in earlier examples. It also allowed them to be ?acceptable? children to teachers who accept this as typical of young boy play, as well as prosocial characters in favour of obedience. Thus, superhero-dom became the masquerade through which these boys could grasp a supposedly coherent gender and solution to the anxiety inherent in an impossible position: Always already a cultural sign, the body sets limits to the imaginary meanings that it occasions, but it is never free of an imaginary construction. The fantasized body can never be understood in relation to the body as real; it can only be understood in relation to another culturally instituted fantasy, one which claims the place of the ?literal? and the ?real.? (Butler, 2008, p. 96) By ?being? a superhero, the boys could appropriately fantasize their bodies within the cultural limits imposed upon their bodies.  Through this masqueraded identity, these children could not only engage obediently but also enforce the obedience of others by engaging dominance and physical force. This was especially clear in the children?s non-play identity acts of maintaining order among peers. Some examples of this were clearer than others, such as in the following observation:  While the children listen to a story by a teacher, Elijah begins to make odd noises and faces in Nathaniel?s direction, trying to engage him in play during the story. Reacting to this, Nathaniel grabs Elijah?s arm with two hands and squeezes hard while staring at him without expression. Nathaniel is still sitting appropriately with his legs crossed, quietly and calmly, and Elijah does not react, continuing his noises and faces. Nathaniel repeats his physical force with one hand on Elijah?s leg. The teacher notices and says to Nathaniel, ?hands to yourself!? Then she continues with the story, to which Elijah has now returned his attention.    In this observation, Nathaniel was able to maintain a high level of embodied obedient rule following while attempting to use the physical force associated with hegemonic masculinity to enforce Elijah?s obedience. While of course, he was not following classroom rule by attempting to hurt Elijah, he seemingly attempted to balance an obedient embodiment with policing his peer, 	 ?	 ?63	 ?which seems to be prioritized over complete ?goodness.? This seemed to be a reasonably successful engagement of both masculine power and ?good? child behaviour, especially considering the results.  Although the teacher acknowledged and discouraged Nathaniel?s physical force, as required of the Good Early Childhood Educator, the intervention did not go further to include the typical discussion expected to interrupt children?s violence against one another. Specifically, Allegra as an institution subscribes to a program created by the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre called Safe Spaces, which aims to target and prevent bullying behaviour. Through this program, the teacher would have been expected to remind Nathaniel about Elijah?s right to a safe body, and identify his behaviour as unsafe. In many cases this would have been continued to a discussion between Elijah and Nathaniel facilitated by the teacher. This reaction may have been dampened because  the dominant assumptions of educators within early childhood education continue to position boys? gendered behaviours as innocent, harmless, natural and inevitable parts of their development [?], validating restrictive masculinities through leaving them unquestioned and unproblematised. (Keddie, 2003, p. 301) Nathaniel?s behaviour could have been considered typical and harmlessly part of boyhood. Furthermore, the teacher may have been attempting to fit the Good Early Childhood Educator role by achieving a smooth and uninterrupted story time, which was to be used as a transition to the lunch routine. Nathaniel?s embodiment, his policing of Elijah, and the teacher?s quick discouragement of his act of force may all have supported the early childhood value of a smooth and docile transition. A higher energy exchange may have engaged discourses of control in early childhood education that imply the teacher had lost that control, as in the 	 ?	 ?64	 ?Kindergarten classroom highlighted by (Millei, 2005). Thus, the teacher?s mild response may be seen as having rewarded Nathaniel?s assistance in her goals as a Good Early Childhood Educator.  While this might point to a great influence of educators on the gender performances in an early childhood setting, the discursive position of Good Early Childhood Educator mandated within these settings are a ubiquitous force of power/knowledge aimed to discipline educators to the benefit of an education system of social control (Ortlipp, Arthur, & Woodrow, 2011; Langford, 2008). Simultaneously, the Good Early Childhood Educator ? understood as a female embodiment ? is defined by a scientifically sanctioned discourse of women as natural caretakers of children, integrating patriarchal discipline onto the role. Just as those discourses define femininity (de Beauvoir, 1976), the discourse of the Good Early Childhood Educator provides a position for educators that is unoccupiable in its contradictory mandates of control and compassion, research and emotion, which result in inevitable dissatisfaction in the perpetual attempts for ?success.? As may be seen in the above observation, the tension within such a discourse further governs the experiences of the children in these settings who in some ways may be required to weave between and through them. Through carefully navigating this, Nathaniel could aim for power over Elijah ? who did not submit, however ? while mediating it with a satisfying level of docility. In the end, his goal was achieved and Elijah turned his attention to the story, and Nathaniel had successfully enforced for ?good,? just as a superhero should.   Important to this identity of superhero were the boundaries that the boys themselves create around it, primarily, of course, that of gender. While there were instances during which girls could participate in this play as superheroes, this participation required permission from the boys and 	 ?	 ?65	 ?could be taken away at whim. This was the case when Rosalynn attempted to play superhero, and was accepted only intermittently. This was also true when I attempted to assume a superhero role by putting on a cape. The exchange that follows demonstrates the ambivalent boundaries: Me: ?I?m going to put this on!? (puts it on) Finn: You can?t put that on. Me: Why not?  Finn: That?s not yours Me: Well it?s not yours either? it?s the daycare?s!!  Finn: You can?t be a superhero. Me: Why not? I want to be a superhero. Finn: Because wings are for boys. Me: What? Finn: Because the wings are for boys. Me: Why are they just for boys?  Finn: Because they are. Me: Hmm? well?. I?m going to go write that down!  Finn: Write down? ?superhero Jennifer?!!   During the majority of this exchange, the gendered boundary of being a superhero seemed rigid and unambiguous. The wings ? which were seemingly synonymous with cape ? that I had put on, could not be considered mine because they were necessarily indicative of being a superhero, and it was made clear that my mandated gender performance precludes my possible inclusion in this role. This conversation also seems to point out the potential age boundaries among a superhero designation ? as an adult, dressing up as a superhero may have been unacceptable to Finn, and so by ?boys? he may have been calling upon both gender and age. As with exchanges with other children, he may have also found this an opportunity to reach for and exert power, as he seemed to consider the garb of a superhero his domain and not mine. Uncritically, my reaction seemed intent on re-exerting my power as an adult and one who may hold knowledge of him above his head.  Thus, in the final moment, I was granted superhero-dom at Finn?s command that I write myself as such. In the first place, this adheres to the observation that the boys acted as the gatekeepers of girls? inclusion in superhero-dom, but it is very likely that my position of power 	 ?	 ?66	 ?resulted in a last minute acceptance into superhero identification. My declaration to write down his superhero rules may have been interpreted as a threat or adult disapproval of his exclusion of me from the category, or as ?telling on him? as he knew I was writing his words down for others to read. Meanwhile, it remains possible that he considered those two words the topic of our conversation, but not meaningful in combination with one another. Overall, the engagement of power may have continued in his dictation of what I should write down, where he could include himself in the power activity of creating knowledge about our exchange, but perhaps with a new attempt to satisfy my adult expectation. As one who may have aimed to create the barriers of who may be considered a superhero, he attempted to maintain that role by ?allowing? me after I exerted my power.  The Hyper-Mask of Superheroes Rylin, Finn, and Nathaniel comprised a main clique of boys in the classroom whose bond seemingly depended upon their superhero play. The particular superhero seemed irrelevant: identification to specific superheroes changed over time, context, and social demand. While superhero play between these three occurred quite often during outdoor and indoor free play, these times were not limits for the children?s involvement in superhero narratives. These three boys identified each other and themselves as superheroes throughout the day, and were matter-of-factly identified as such by other children, including the three other children in this research. Thus, this identification was seemingly understood and integrated into the classroom?s social dynamic. This play and identification was also strongly taken up by Elijah when the mood struck ? arguably more often than other forms ? but fluidly occurred among other possible play and identifications, such as doctor, pilot, girl, and some sort of agent, the name of whom was uninterpretable by me. Rosalynn occasionally proclaimed herself a superhero among the play of Rylin, Finn, and 	 ?	 ?67	 ?Nathaniel, but she never played a starring role, and occasionally attempted to be the character ?saved? by the superheroes; Allison was never observed playing either as a superhero, or as a supplemental character to superhero play. Social Co-Dependency Nathaniel, Rylin, and Finn persistently emphasized the centrality of superheroes in their friendship group, and vice versa.  Me: Why are they your friends? Nathaniel: Because I love to play superheroes with them.  Me: So Rylin, what do you like about superheroes? Rylin: ummm well I like about just playing with Finn and Nathaniel, they both want to be Batman and I want to be Spiderman.   Me: What do you like about Allegra? Finn: I like my mom to go to my home and buy a Batman shirt and a Spiderman shirt, and I like to fly and play with Rylin and Nathaniel.   Me: What do superheroes look like? Rylin: I don?t know. Me: You don?t know? Rylin: Well? I?m Spiderman and Finn?s Batman?  As in the above quotes, each of the boys explicitly connected superhero play to their friendships, going in both directions: they were friends because they played superheroes together, and they liked playing superheroes because they were friends. This co-dependence was clearly the dominant point they wanted to share with me about superheroes.  This reflects Butler?s assertion that the performativity of gender is a ?public action [?] with the strategic aim of maintaining gender within its binary frame? (p. 191).  This was also demonstrated in Keddie?s (2003) work, in which  boys? self-categorisations and their potent desire for self-legitimation and belonging are pivotal in construction of their sense of masculine ?identity.? Located and shaped 	 ?	 ?68	 ?within the context of broader gendered discourses, these patterns of desire form and reform - strengthen and amplify through the competitive social dynamics and power relations of the group. (Keddie, 2003, 301)  The depth of this co-dependence was apparent in the following exchange.  Me: Why the same? Nathaniel: Because I?m his friend, so I like- Me: Friends do the same thing? Nathaniel: (noise) Me: what if you did something different, what would that do? Nathaniel: Well I love to do the same thing as Finn. Me: Why? Nathaniel: Because I love him so much and he?s my friend. Me: Hmm so friends should do things the same? Nathaniel: Yea. Me: Why do friends have to do the same?  Nathaniel: I dunno why???..but that?s all I have to talk to you about.  By restricting themselves to this social dependency and maintaining it within the strict gender boundaries of superheroes, these boys mirrored Keddie?s (2003) boy participants who ?discursively produce and re-produce the group?s patterns of desire mobilized around restrictive and destructive masculinities? (p. 303). By being part of this group, the boys designed each other?s desire and maintained the ways in which they could be boys.  This seemed especially salient towards the beginning of my research stay at Allegra, as Nathaniel did not seem to yet be part of the group. Many of my initial observations of their play showed Finn and Rylin playing superheroes together, with Nathaniel attempting to join from an outsider position. To do this he relied upon his knowledge of superheroes, especially differentiating between ?blue? and ?black? Batman to represent ?good? and ?bad? Batman (the implications of which are discussed in the following section). During his attempts to join the play and friendship group, he declared himself Blue Batman, and tried to engage in play fighting against whichever peripheral children were embodying the bad guys during that play. When, 	 ?	 ?69	 ?during the first few attempts, he did not feel accepted, he would transform into Black Batman, who could therefore express his frustration through being the antagonist to his hopeful friends. After several attempts of joining the social group through superhero play, Nathaniel seemed to naturally evolve as a member of this group. Who can be socially mobile in this way and why will also be discussed in the following section.  Economic and Cultural Capital Although the three boys were able to access superhero narratives together, Finn seemed to vary in his access, focusing strongly on accumulating licensed superhero items through access to capital. This may connect to the ways in which he struggled slightly more along lines of language, culture, and even gender at times.  While Nathaniel contended, ?only Rylin and Finn are my friends,? Finn was a bit more inclusive about who could be considered his friends: Finn: Because I like to play with my friends and I like to play by myself. Me: So why do you like to play with Rylin and Nathaniel?  Finn: Because. Me: Because why? Finn: Um because; and I like to play with [two other children], because?. And I always ask you.  (later)  Me: What is the best part of being a superhero? Finn: well if Nathaniel and Rylin is not here then I play with Rosalynn and [other girl child] and they are not playing with me, then I will not ? then I will ask someone to play with me.  Through a less restrictive proclaimed social group as well as admitting girls and less popular boys as part of his friend group, Finn was sacrificing some claim to hegemonic masculine sociality. This was supported also as he was least often observed engaging in fighting play or aggression against others. Rylin and Nathaniel were likely to engage masculinity and language ability to 	 ?	 ?70	 ?debate or reframe their play within the guidelines of the child care setting. Finn, however, would more often recoil without words when challenged. While he was well liked by Rylin and Nathaniel, he was more quickly admonished, such as a quick retort of ?I already knew that? following an utterance to Nathaniel. As English is a secondary language to him, his utterance formations in English were less smooth and less dense in vocabulary than his two peers. Thus, his role in social negotiations, including the play spaces of superheroes, was occasionally secondary to Rylin and Nathaniel.  Although the following quote illustrated the social co-dependency of superheroes, Finn?s explanation that his enjoyment of Allegra came from ?[his] mom to go to [his] home and buy a Batman shirt and a Spiderman shirt? shows the strong importance of capital access for his participation in superhero narratives. Finn seemed to emphasize this much more than the other two, as well as more regularly wear or emphatically display licensed superhero possessions. However, economic access was not unique only to Finn. As previously explored, the world of superheroes for three- and four-year-olds is accessed socially, but also as part of commercialism. Though she speaks of princesses, Wohlwend?s (2009) assertion that these licensed materials pervade young children?s lives and provide restricted gender positions holds accurate for boys? experience with licensed superheroes. While not all boys have access to them commercially, their ubiquity in western contexts creates their worlds, and further assigns social value based on access. For boys with access, they equally ?blur the line between play and reality, allowing children to live in-character? (p. 58). As in Finn?s case, increasing access to licensed superheroes could have been used to mediate the access of other boys to the hegemonic masculinity afforded in the discourse.  	 ?	 ?71	 ? Furthermore, ?bad guys? were identified partially based on their relationship to capital, where ?bad guy clothes? were contrasted with ?nice fancy clothes:?   Me: Is there a way that bad guys look?  Nathaniel: Well some bad guys dress up in nice fancy clothes but I can still tell they?re bad guys because I think about that, and some bad guys wear bad guy clothes.  Me: What do bad guy clothes look like? Nathaniel: Just clothes that aren?t good.  While economics contributed partly to this image of a ?bad guy,? race and social skills were strong factors as well. Just as Hurley (2005) exposes a white/black dichotomy of good/bad within Princess narratives, Marsh (2000) points to the racialised, non-Western portrayal of bad guys in superhero narratives. Baddies are frequently dark-skinned; only a few narratives contain positive images of black characters. In addition, some villains speak with non-American accents, accentuating their ?foreignness? (p. 219). Following suit, these boys explicitly connected ?badness? to blackness. During a story about several puppies, my questions about the characteristics of the puppies showed Finn?s strong suspicions solely about the black dog, which was never pictured or spoken of as fighting.  Me: Which one do you think is scary, is any of them scary? Finn: This one. Me: Why? Finn: Because the black dog is scary. Me: Why is the black dog scary? Finn: Because they fight each other.  More explicitly, was the binary noted in a previous observation of Blue Batman (good)/Black Batman (bad) throughout the children?s play and discussions, such as in the following:  Rylin: Well? I?m Spiderman and Finn?s Batman? and Black Batman is the bad guy. Me: Why is Black Batman a bad guy?  Rylin: Well because? just is.  	 ?	 ?72	 ?This dichotomy persisted despite the reality of ?original? Batman wearing a black costume and being assumedly ?good.? The explicitness of this association of black with bad emphasizes the white privilege embedded in the hegemonic masculine power accessed by these boys through the superhero narrative. While not all of these boys are white, they could all access white privilege through distancing themselves from the blackness of a ?bad guy.? This could be bought, socially negotiated, and of course proved through the body.  Social skills also pervaded the access to superhero status, and assigned marginality to others. As Nathaniel pointed out:  Me: How do you know someone?s a bad guy?  Nathaniel: Because they?re mean. Me: What else?  Nathaniel: Well Joker tells bad jokes?. And the Penguin is just not friendly.  Telling bad jokes is an interesting component of identifying a bad guy, and although Nathaniel referred specifically to a character from Batman, paired with being ?mean? and ?not friendly? presented an interesting category of character traits. Whether a joke is ?good? or ?bad? is pretty clearly culturally determined, and especially a child being able to effectively participate in humour is based upon a certain level of cultural access, social skills, English language skill, and cognitive ability. These also seemed to be mediators when it came to children being able to present themselves as ?not mean? and/or appropriately ?friendly.? Thus, boys already marginalized by these factors were not only excluded from the relative social power of superhero-dom but were relegated to the position of ?bad guy,? explicitly or not.  Creating Bad Guys As all children are marginalized as incomplete people, in a setting designed to evaluate and restrict their bodily performance these boys? suitability as ?super? boys was constantly in threat. Through narratives that provide them with physical dominance, they could position 	 ?	 ?73	 ?themselves as strong and powerful, as well as good and worthy. Unfortunately, this was seemingly at the expense of the children who could not afford superhero privilege. If the superhero was created in camaraderie, the bad guy was socially isolated; if the superhero was a purchased commodity, the bad guy could not afford this identity; if the superhero could masquerade gender to his advantage, the bad guy would not fit the bill; if the superhero could negotiate culture to his advantage, the bad guy fails in negotiation; if the superhero could ?appropriately? perform his body, the bad guy?s body would not perform as well.  These ?bad guys? then, can easily be found in an early childhood setting, as Rylin, Finn, and Nathaniel necessarily defined their optimality in binary comparison to other children, especially other boys. This was further observed in their consistent rejection of two specific boys who would attempt to play with them. When speaking of them, both Rylin and Nathaniel would categorize them as ?not friendly? and suggest an expectation that they would ?break their work,? tearing down whatever construction either child would be building. Butler (2008) explains the creation of this binary position of roles through the discursive maintenance of stable identities:  ?Inner? and ?outer? make sense only with reference to a mediating boundary that strives for stability. And this stability, this coherence, is determined in large part by cultural orders that sanction the subject and compel its differentiation from the abject. Hence, ?inner? and ?outer? constitute a binary distinction that stabilizes and consolidates the coherent subject. (p. 182) This narrative imbedded into schooling thus pits children against each other, necessarily relegating some to marginal positions as others attempt to distance themselves from the undesirable. Through their social bond, they form ?agreement on matters considering goodies and 	 ?	 ?74	 ?baddies?in order to establish the friendship group as ?goodies? with an agreed purpose to deal with baddies,? (p. 101) as in research by Giugni (2006). Hair and Eyelashes: Discriminating Visual Markers of ?Girlness?  I was told a lot about the specific markers that the children might have considered ?girl specific? through free drawings. At first this process was unintended, coming about in casual conversation, but as this came up pretty consistently I decided to vary the supposed gender markers I included in the drawings I would make of imagined people. It is important to note that, as discussed in my methods section, this activity was problematic in its role in leading children towards narrow, categorical responses. As reflected in Davies? discussion of the gender binary underlining three- to five-year-olds? adherence to emphasized gender, the children?s explanation of visual feminine markers relied on their opposition to boyness and seemed unshakeable even when explicitly contradicted by real life examples. Furthermore, they reflected de Beauvoir?s (1979) position of the feminine being the ?only gender,? markedly Other to the masculine normal, non-gendered subject.  Arguably the most important aspect of visual ?girlness? was the aspect of hair. Some of the drawings were deemed female because ?she?s got hair? (Rosalynn), or a specifically aesthetic type of hair such has ?blonded? or ?curly? (Nathaniel), while drawings were deemed to be male because ?he?s got shaved hair? (Rosalynn) or ?no hair? (Rosalynn and Nathaniel). Though the former referred to a drawing without hair, the latter referred to a drawing with short hair. Though the length of hair represented a uniform distinction between aesthetic boy and girlness, the children referred to girlness as an addition of hair in contrast to an imagined hairlessness of the ?normal? model: boys. This reference to hair and hairlessness was not restricted to my drawings but to references to real people as well, such as where Rosalynn explained that she knows I am a 	 ?	 ?75	 ?girl because ?you?ve got hair!?  Eyelashes were a secondary characteristic that was particularly important to illustrated representations of girlness. They were especially powerful in making anthropomorphized but otherwise inanimate objects look female. For example, Rosalynn and Nathaniel were colouring in sheets of a boat with facial features. Rosalynn was trying to make her boat into a girl:  Me: oh are you putting eyelashes on there? Rosalynn: That way it?s a girl. Me: Oh? so to make something a girl you put eyelashes?  Rosalynn: Yea ??.but maybe if you put lipstick on then it?s a girl!!!  In this exchange, she emphasized the importance of the eyelashes, and then added the idea of lipstick, which implies that ?eyelashes? might instead refer to mascara. However, she did not add colour to the boat?s supposed lips yet remained comfortable in her boat?s ?girlness.? Meanwhile, Nathaniel declared his boat to be a boy, despite adding nothing: Me: Why is that one a boy? Nathaniel: ?Cause I?m not? ?Cause I?m colouring it blue.  His initial hesitation seemed to suggest the boat?s boyness because of its lack of some additive, but Nathaniel seemingly felt more certain of the boat?s boyness when calling upon its colour. However, the colour became irrelevant when he decided he would rather add eyelashes later in the colouring session.  Me: Why does yours have eyelashes Nathaniel? Nathaniel: ?Cause it?s a girl one and I?m going to give it to my mummy!!! Mummy?s a girl!!  He strongly emphasized the justification of the boat?s girlness by calling upon his mother as the female recipient, implying that the boat would not or should not be a girl were it for himself or his father. It is also interesting that Nathaniel afforded his boat a change in gender, which the children found hard to accept in my drawings of people, possibly because of its original status as inanimate object, which may therefore be allowed to subvert assumed rules of static, unchanging sex and/or 	 ?	 ?76	 ?gender status. The addition of eyelashes to inanimate objects seems to follow common patterns of cartooned characters such as Minnie Mouse, who are understood to be female ?versions? of the male counterparts, distinguished only by colour and eyelashes. Eyelashes as a visual marker were powerful and could sometimes supersede the absence of hair, such as in the following event:  Me: Some girls have no hair, why is it a boy? (Rosalynn prompts me to make eyelashes) Rosalynn: now it looks like a girl.  However, this was not a permanent marker when the drawing was re-examined, as the exchange ended with Rosalynn?s re-declaration: ?That looks like a boy because its got no hair,? despite the meantime addition of a dress.  The clothing component was an interesting phenomenon itself. Although I will discuss later the criticality of clothing in marking a princess specifically, clothing that might be considered specifically for boys or girls never superseded the importance of hair and/or eyelashes. In one drawing, shown in Figure 1, I had first drawn the character without a cape, and Nathaniel interpreted it as the following:  Nathaniel: It?s? a lady with a car shirt. Me: A lady with a car shirt? Nathaniel: And a doll in her hand. Me: Hmm? why is it a lady? Nathaniel: Because that blonded hair.  	 ?	 ?77	 ? Figure 1. "A lady with a car shirt". Although he found it important to add the description of the ?car shirt? to the label of ?lady,? 	 ?	 ?78	 ?having a shirt that is typically worn by boys did not yield any hesitation over her femaleness. To push this further, the cape was added and her hair was changed:  Me: Now what does mine look like? Nathaniel: A girl.  Me: What else? Nathaniel: A superhero girl saving a doll. Me: Why does mine look like a girl still. Nathaniel: ?Cause girls have curly hair.  Despite having dominant narratives that negate girls from superhero roles, the presence of ?the hair,? though increasingly ambiguously drawn, dominated these narratives to maintain the drawing?s girlhood.  Furthermore, the icon of ?the dress,? which we will discover is a non-negotiable of princess-hood, was a topic of contention. On one hand, the children would not verbally accept that boys could possibly wear dresses in our discussions of the drawings. In discussing the picture of the person with ?shaved hair? (final image shown in Figure 2), the following argument ensued: Me: But look at Nathaniel! He has eyelashes! What kind of clothes should I put on it? Nathaniel: A dress!  Me: But that doesn?t make it a girl! Boys can wear dresses. Rosalynn: NO BOYS WEAR DRESSES!!!!!! Me: Yes some boys wear dresses. Rosalynn: No. Me: Yes. Rosalynn: No. Me: Yes. Rosalynn: No. Me: Why not?... why do girls wear dresses? Rosalynn: Because they have eyelashes.   This ostensibly self-evident argument maintained a rigid boundary between boys and dresses, however as previously mentioned when a dress was added to the character, they were still ultimately deemed ?a boy because it?s got no hair,? thus showing the insecurity of supposed gender ?Truths.? 	 ?	 ?79	 ?        .        Figure 2. "A boy because it's got no hair"  The rigid rules regarding boys and dresses are in line with the following observation made over several days:  On one day, one of the older boys in this research decided to wear a red tutu that he found in dress up clothes. He willingly posed for a photo of himself by one of the teachers. A different teacher later saw the photo, who then questioned him about it in 	 ?	 ?80	 ?a manner that poked fun about him wearing a tutu and ? albeit jokingly ? demanded an explanation from him. He actively denied the incident despite physical evidence, and further denied it when I tried to ask him about it from a standpoint of celebration.   During the original event, he seemingly was quite pleased to partake in wearing the tutu, and even posing for a photograph in it. This suggests that he saw possibility in performing himself in nonconformity to gender: he occupied a space in which the lines of a gendered binary were blurred or erased, that gender ?queerness? was an acceptable mode of being for him in that moment. However, he would later verbally deny the event. This may have been mediated by the joking attitude of the original questioning, which seemed to imply a problem with him wearing a skirt, employing a metanarrative that defines males? performance of femininity as demeaning. Doing so seemed to strongly re-discipline this boy into a hegemonically masculine performance of heteronormativity; he was reminded that gender nonconformity is unacceptable for him. By completely denying the event, this boy seemed to be reacting to the ?fear and narcissism? (Holmlund, 2002, p. 222) by lying in order to reassert his performance in a masquerade of masculinity. His reaction reflected Beloff?s (2003) explanation as the masquerade of the marginalized: ?we are also constantly in some state of danger. We have to keep up with work on the ?right? self all the time? (p. 58). As a child at the mercy of adult evaluation of his performance of masculinity, he had to backtrack by engaging a new fantasy in which the event did not happen.  The Reign of Princesses Nathaniel wants to be a ?helicopter saver person so people don?t die.? Finn wants to be ?a police officer on a motorcycle at the fireworks to protect people and keep them safe.? Elijah wants to ?get bigger and bigger and bigger!? Rosalynn wants to be ?a princess.? ?What do they get to do?? ?Nothing!?   The above juxtaposition of dreams reflected Jule?s (2011) description of the idea of a princess: ?A princess accomplishes very little other than being beautiful. The princess is usually passive and 	 ?	 ?81	 ?objectified or praised for her appearance? (p. 33). Similarly, all children described princesses exclusively in image terms, such as in the following conversation: Elijah: And I will dress up as Spiderman and you dress up as princess. Me: I am? Okay if I?m going to dress up as a princess what do I need to do?  Elijah: You need dress up and you need a makeup. Me: Makeup? Elijah: Ya. Rylin: And you need?. Nail polish!  Me: Nail polish?  Elijah: Ya!  Rylin: And you need a wand!  Most of the items these boys relegated as belonging to a princess are intended to enhance her appearance, implying both that she should be valued for her appearance but also that it is perpetually not good enough.  Similarly, in a group discussion with other girls about what princesses are, Rosalynn suggested a crown, dancing, and shoes with flowers and glitter as important aspects of being a princess. Although dancing implies activeness, the princess is relegated to an ornate form of movement, made obvious when Rosalynn proclaimed that a princess walks ?slow? because ?she don?t want to damage [her shoes].? Rosalynn?s value of princesses was exclusively image-based, emphasized when she was asked what a princess should do when she is angry: ?comb the princess?s hair.? This is particularly pointed, as Rosalynn very strongly proclaimed her own identity as a princess, showing that it was clearly a metaphor she used for her own identity (Jule, 2011). Hurley (2005) argues: Not only does the Disney version provide visual images for the fairy tale it is depicting, these images and the relative value of group membership associated with the images are then translated into beliefs children hold about status in particular group membership, in relation to notions of good, bad, pretty, and ugly as reflected in the films. (p. 222)  	 ?	 ?82	 ?So, beyond simply emphasizing a girl?s appearance, the images presented through the commodified Disney Princess brand value some categories of appearance over others. This includes valuing whiteness over non-whiteness, skinniness over all, and so on, thus relegating certain children to the margins, just as the superhero discourse defines ?bad guys.?  Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria As previously mentioned, ?A prince may not only be irrelevant to little girls; he may actually get in the way. After all, little girls like being princesses, at least partly, because of power? (Orr, 2009, p. 20). This idea resonated greatly with my observations of the self-defined ?Princesses? at Allegra, as princes were 100% absent from their narratives of what princesses do and need. Furthermore, Allison was thoroughly able to ascribe princess status to herself to enforce arbitrary parameters to me about princess inclusion lines, positioning herself as a power holder over the discourse. This was not as clear for Rosalynn, who was generally quieter and more passive, but engaged in the same power withholding ? at Allison?s lead however ? to strongly deny my princess entry at every occasion, as well as other girls who were not wearing dresses. By doing so, Allison was able to stay within the bounds of an appropriate performance of femininity, as Ringrose and Renold (2010) explain: ?A primary way girls are socially sanctioned to express meanness is through a direct regulation of other girls? sexuality? (p. 585). Though she may not have intended to express meanness per se, she was able to regulate her social world and the position of others within it through this femininely appropriate form of meanness.  Through this regulation of my gender position she was also able to acquire defining power over me as a departure from the adult/child and researcher/researched dynamic. This was obvious in the extended debate shown below: Me: Can I be a princess?! Allison: You can?t. 	 ?	 ?83	 ?Me: Why not!? Allison: You can?t!  Me: Why? Allison: Because you don?t have a dress. Me: Well? what if I pull my (extra long) shirt down to make a dress! There! Ha-ha!  Rosalynn: Nooooo!!! Allison: Noooooo!  Me: Why?!? Allison: It?s not a dress. Me: Oooooh I?m a princess (I twirl around). Rosalynn: No!!! Me: Why?? What else do I need?? (Allison stands up)  Allison: A dress with a puffy thing, see? (shows her dress with crinoline).  Me: Ohh a dress with a skirt like that??  Allison: A tutu and- Me: A tutu! Huh! So does that mean YOU?RE a princess?? Allison: Yea.  (later)  Me: Why am I not a superhero?!?! Allison: You can?t be it. Me: Why?? Allison: ?Cause you?re not a boy! Me: ?Cause I?m not a boy?!?  So? can you be a superhero? Allison: (shakes head no)  Me: No?!?? Allison: A princess. Me: A princess? What if I wanna be a superhero!  Allison: (shakes head no) Me: Why not?! Allison: ?Cause you?re a girl!  Me: Hmmmm ? hmmmm?. I wanna be a superhero!  Allison: No! you can?t! No no no no no. Rosalynn: No no no no no no no!  Rylin: No no no!  Me: What am I then if I can?t be a superhero and I can?t be a prin- Rosalynn: Be a kitty cat. Me: A kitty cat? Rosalynn: Yea.  Me: Can Rylin be a kitty cat?  Allison: Noooo. Rosalynn: Nooo. Me: Why not? (nothing)  	 ?	 ?84	 ?Me: Can Elijah be a kitty cat?  Elijah: I can be a kitty cat!  Me: What do you think, Allison?  Elijah: I wanna be a kitty cat!   (Allison nods)  Me: Ya? Allison: Yea he can because (something I could not decipher about his hair).  Me: Hmm can Elijah be a superhero? Allison: He can be a kitty cat. Me: Not a superhero?  Allison: No. Me: Why not?  Elijah: You can be a kitty cat, a superhero, and a princess, you can be!  Me: I can?!?! Allison: No!  Me: What about Elijah? Allison: Yea he can be superhero. Me: Can he be a princess? Allison: No? he can be a superhero. Me: But can he be a princess? Allison: You can?t be a princess. Me: But can Elijah be a princess? Allison: No he?s gonna be a superhero. Me: But what if he wants to be a princess? Allison: But he?s a boy! And I?m a girl because I?m dressed up in my dress. Me: But sometimes boys wear dresses.  Allison: No! they?re boys!  Me: This is very complicated. Why can boys only be superheroes?  Allison: Because they?re boys! (laughs) They?re boys!!  This debate was interactive with the discourse of binary gender positions, and relied heavily on only two symbols of princesshood: being a girl, and wearing a particularly feminine dress. To her, one necessitated the other; putting on the form of dress she considered the costume of a princess made her a girl, and she was required wear this costume because she is a girl. This circular logic supports Butler?s (2008) argument that all gender is masquerade. The costume makes her a girl, which mandates her costume.  Furthermore, the binary interacts with her positioning of Elijah. She recognized the ways in which he blurs gender lines, specifically referring to his hair, which hung to his shoulders. 	 ?	 ?85	 ?Thus, she first allowed him the position of ?kitty cat,? which Rosalynn also positioned me as, implying that it represented to them an ambivalent position that did not mandate idealized femininity or masculinity, but instead an undefined gender position, akin to the identification of gender queer. This position seemingly defied gender as a binary, finding positions that resisted an either/or understanding of gender. However, just as Nathaniel restricted himself during our conversation toward deciding dresses are not for boys, Allison seemingly followed the gender binary to decidedly categorize Elijah as superhero ?because he is a boy,? discursively re-masking him in his ?appropriate? gendered fantasy.  Masked and Unmasked Princesses  What was quite different about Allison and Rosalynn from the aforementioned Wohlwend?s princesses and those in other related research, was that Allegra?s princesses never seemed to play princesses. Over two months, neither of the girls was observed acting as a princess, neither in body nor through dolls, as in other research (e.g. Wohlwend, 2009). Although potentially ?princess-y? clothes were available for dress-up, neither was observed wearing them. One interpretation of this is that they did not need to play princesses as they simply were princesses, and so everything they played and did was a princess role.  According to both Wohlwend (2009) and Orr (2009), the Disney Princess line affords this role of being princesses to little girls who can afford it. Furthermore, the emphasis of Disney items in all aspects of life emphasizes this being and rarely lends itself to acting the role. This maintains the idea of princesshood as passivity but also as a young girl?s reality as opposed to fantasy play that is expectedly put on for play and taken off when desired. Disney?s form of princesshood is not taken off the body. However, Allison did decide that one is no longer a princess without her dress with a simple ?no,? while Rosalynn similarly declared her own sister 	 ?	 ?86	 ?and female friends to be boys because they were not wearing dresses on a particular day. However, with the pervasiveness of Disney products, one might assume that many girls, including Allison and Rosalynn, are able to continue their princessness as they remove their dresses and put on their princess pyjamas and sleep in princess - or at least pink - sheets, and wake up to brush their teeth with princess-themed toothbrushes (Orr, 2009). ?The pervasive availability of consumer products associated with the Disney Princess films blurs the line between play and reality, allowing children to live in-character? (Wohlwend, 2009, p. 58). This is similar to Butler?s (2008) explanation of the corporeal signification of gender:  Such acts, gestures, enactments, generally construed, are performative in the sense that the essence or identity that they otherwise purport to express are fabrications manufactured and sustained through corporeal signs and other discursive means (p. 185).  The Disney Princess line specifically provides a purchasable and valuable package of corporeal signification, allowing the purchasers to properly perform emphasized femininity. Just as superheroes, girl children can thereby mediate their social position through their access to capital.   Pretend play actually seemed to be the girls? opportunity to depart from princesshood and occasionally even emphasized femininity; when they did play pretend they would most often engage in family, hospital, or animal play. On occasion they would also adopt typically masculine characters, either peripherally partaking in boys? play or playing completely separately. The only time either Rosalynn or Allison was observed wearing any icon of princesshood, was when Allison was going around the room with another female friend, both wearing crowns. When asked by a teacher if they were being princesses, Allison asserted that no, they were monsters. As a follow up, we had the following dialogue, which Rosalynn and Rylin joined:   	 ?	 ?87	 ?Me: So what kind of monster do you like being, Allison Allison: Mmm a girl monster. Me: Tell me more. Rylin: I like to be a? Allison: No (to me). Me: no? Rylin: I like to be (mumbles) a boy monster. Me: You like the boy monster?  Rosalynn: I like the girl monster!!  Me: Why?  (pause)  Rylin: I can?t- she can?t tell you. Me: Oh..  Rosalynn: Can?t tell you!  Me: What does your girl monster look like?  Rosalynn: No. Me: Nothing? It?s just invisible?  Rylin: It?s just a little grey. Me: Little grey?  Rosalynn: It?s a secret. Me: Ohh it?s a secret. Rylin: Mine is a secret too!   To me, this conversation yields many insights, as the three children enacted different social positions and agendas throughout. In the first place, that Allison?s crown-related play involved embodying a monster is an interesting departure from the emphasized femininity of princessness. When asked about it, however, she insisted her monster was a ?girl monster,? which can be read through the various perspectives of gender as masquerade. It may reflect Riviere?s (1929) argument of masquerade used to hide any association a female may have with masculinity, or, similarly, a reaction to a sense of ?danger? of being found out as deviating from ?normal? (Beloff, 2003). Similarly Rylin took this cue to assert that his would be a ?boy monster.? From a Butler perspective, where all being is gendered, and all gender is masquerade (2008), monster play may have allowed Allison to put on a different mask, but then discursively readjusted it under my adult gaze. Through this evolving masquerade, however, the boundaries of Allison?s gender performance are shown as more fluid than asserted in her declarations of princesshood; she 	 ?	 ?88	 ?continuously navigated different discourses to perform her gender in various forms.   While the above analysis assumes that Allison?s monster only evolved into a ?girl monster? once questioned, the monster may have been feminine throughout the play, through which she may have asserted power over a typically masculine play character that she could now claim as her own. These redefinitions rippled into the possibilities of gender performance for Rosalynn as well. Seemingly, as Allison had opened ?girl monster? as an acceptable position for a princess, Rosalynn asserted her interest in the ?girl monster? as well, again attaching herself to the discursive power held by Allison. They also accessed a different type of power in the researcher/researched relationship by consistently telling me ?no? as I ask my questions, again initiated by Allison and supported enthusiastically by Rosalynn.  This ?no? has many interpretations: Did Allison feel uncomfortable feeling my gaze as she stepped out of her gender role? Did she enjoy enacting access to power in our conversations as a departure from the typical adult/child dynamic? Rylin however, attempted to interpret this for me ? and potentially for Allison by claiming, ?she can?t tell you,? an explanation to which Rosalynn quickly adhered. While Allison did not explicitly agree, she continued answering ?no? to me and did not disagree with Rylin, including when he began describing the appearance of her monster for her, without knowledge and without regard for her and Rosalynn?s wish to keep the information from me. While Allison and, by association Rosalynn, worked to hold power over me in this conversation, they seemed to yield this power to Rylin when he attempted to mediate our standstill. In doing this I wonder about Rylin?s motivation: Was he attempting to position Allison as a ?good girl? by providing an adult-acceptable explanation for her denial? Doing this could be supporting how ?femininity calls upon girls to perform niceness? (Ringrose & Renold, 2010, p. 584), as he may have seen this as a superhero?s opportunity to ?save? Allison and return her to a 	 ?	 ?89	 ?gendered position of niceness within my adult gaze. Or did he see her ?no? as an opportunity to guide the narrative, assert masculine dominance, and prove his obedience as a ?good child?? In any case, Allison yielded to Rylin?s interjections and silently approved his interpretations. However, she consistently denied me, which may have held the greatest importance to her in terms of enacting power during this discussion, with little interest in Rylin?s role.   Through my discussions with Allison and her peers, the most important thing I learned about princesshood is that I have no access to it. The ways in which this certainty was explained, however, seemingly got caught in the discursive binary of gendered roles and appearance markers.   Through these debates, they called upon different discourses available to them to reframe my gender, and my exclusions from princessness, superheroness, girlness, and boyness. This was rationalized based on colours I wore, the length of my hair, and most importantly that I was not allowed in their groups. The underlying context of course was my outlier position of adult, upon whom they could enact power from their otherwise dominated position in an adult/child binary by relegating me to the margins, while their categories were maintained in seemingly true coherence. By doing so, however, Allison in particular illustrated the potential fluidity in her understanding of gender, but seemingly placed a male/female binary as required discursive norm for her own position, and those of her peers.  Saving and Protecting One afternoon two boys, including Rylin, and one girl were playing. The boys repeatedly play-acted saving the girl. Rosalynn was watching and then she ran to the ?dangerous? side and called to the boys ?Save me! Save me!? Rylin looked at her, laughed, and said ?uh no, we?re not going to save you.?   As a self-defined princess, Rosalynn saw the game of being saved as part of her domain. She attempted to join the play as the girl being saved, expecting to naturally fit this role, combining her daily masquerade with the stereotypical play roles. However, she was denied by Rylin and 	 ?	 ?90	 ?immediately placed to the margins of what she might consider her own gender positionality. Implicated in this observation is that, despite the power girls could engage through the princess narrative, boys ultimately decided who was to be saved: who was really a princess.  The discourses underlying princesses as objects to be saved could be seen in the following conversation:  Me: So why does a princess need saving? Rylin: I don?t know. Me: You don?t know? What was the danger you were saving [that girl] from? Rylin: So no one gets her. Me: So no one gets her? Who?s going to get her? Rylin: I don?t know. Me: What if somebody gets you? Rylin: Huh? Then I protect myself!  Me: Can [the girl from the game] protect herself? Rylin: Mmhmm. Me: Then why do you have to save her? Rylin: Because just sometimes I want to. Me: Can a princess protect herself? Rylin: No-oo (a serious laugh).  Me: No? Rylin: I don?t think that she can do it. Me: Why?  (nothing) Me: How about big boys can they protect themselves? Rylin: Yup. Me: How about big girls, like mommies can they protect themselves? Rylin: I don?t think so.  The way that Rylin responded to the idea of ?princesses? protecting themselves speaks volumes: he laughed. Although he decided that the girl from the play situation could protect herself, he seemed to feel able to ? at his leisure ? decide when she might be saved by him. Also, despite first acknowledging that she could save herself, he later followed the gender binary to re-discipline himself; he relegated mothers, definably there to protect children, as incapable of protecting themselves. When I suggested someone might ?get him,? his reaction of ?huh?? implied that this suggestion did not match with his gendered understanding. The language of ?so no one gets her,? 	 ?	 ?91	 ?especially as it clearly did not apply to him, relegated the girl in this play as an object to be possessed. Seemingly, Rylin was engaging all of these discourses, which are ubiquitous in childhood culture as ?normal? and of great value, to perform his position as hegemonically masculine through the girls? self-positioning as princesses.    	 ?	 ?92	 ?Chapter Four: Methodological Reflections: ?Recherch is a hard one?   To the goal of noticing the seemingly unremarkable, and challenging dominant forms of valuing children?s participation, I want to draw upon Gallacher and Gallagher?s (2008) position that non-participation is rarely as valued as children using their ?voices.? There were many, many instances of non-participation by all of the participants in this research, that can be seen as dense with meaning. There seemed to be two main types of withdrawal and/or deflection (non-)responses in the data I collected. The first was a general disinterest or discomfort in having or continuing a conversation, by virtue of the engagement in conversation itself. In other words they seemed to simply not want to talk, such as in the following:  Me: How bout you Rosalynn what are you making? Rosalynn: Nothing!! Me: Hmm what are you doing then? Looks like you?re doing something (no response)  This type of non-response was particularly common from Rosalynn, but at some point came from each child. For research participants, this response and/or non-response should clearly be considered acceptable, reflecting the ethic of opting out of participating whenever desired. I found that this could sometimes be a frustrating boundary to hit when researching, especially when working with young children. When time felt like a factor, or I feared a lack of ?sufficient data,? I began struggling against my urge to enact adult power over the children, such as trying to bargain participation from them: ?Can I talk to you real quick? And then you can read a book?? However, by not responding, or the similarly denying answer ?I don?t know,? uttered in passing as they physically exited the conversation by Rosalynn, Rylin, Nathaniel, Finn, and Allison, these children were engaging participant power through their discursive position as children who are na?ve of the world. Similarly, Elijah would sometimes exit a conversation by giggling and uttering a silly response: 	 ?	 ?93	 ?Me: What?s your favourite part of daycare? Elijah: ca ca!  Me: car car? Elijah: caca! Me: ca?? Elijah: yeaaa ca ca hahahaha.  Through this, they can effectively masquerade the ?normal? na?ve child in order to control their situations and manage the information presented (Beloff, 2003)  Another way of withdrawing from the conversation spoke more to the discourses drawn upon during that conversation. This was when children would end a conversation when I would ask ?why?? answering, ?because it just is!? or some variation. These examples are presented throughout the data interpretation section, such as Rylin?s response ?just is? as to why Black Batman was a bad guy, or ?just ?cause? to why ?we don?t like scribbling,? or Allison?s final reasons behind the rules of being a princess. Beyond a simple wish to conclude the conversation, these dismissive responses may imply self-evidence to what the children were trying to say. This potentially reflects Foucault?s (1989) concept of ?regimes of Truth? whereby certain forms of knowledge, typically ?official? or ?sanctioned? forms of knowledge such as those produced by the disciplines, professions, or governmental bureaucracy, become dominantly accepted and hold social power. The children not only come to ?know? certain things about themselves, their peers, and their worlds, but also learn that these knowledges are unchallengeable, static Truths. Limitations: Binaries, Erasure, and the Status Quo As a novice researcher, I found attempting to bring my fiercely theoretical perspective to fieldwork a challenge. Despite arguments to the contrary, I am a strong believer that poststructuralism can guide practice and inquiry with young children toward dialogical knowledges that may challenge the status quo Truths of the field. Although early childhood researchers ? primarily in other country contexts ? have written about the application of 	 ?	 ?94	 ?poststructuralist theory to research in these settings, I had been underwhelmed by and critical of their seemingly dampened approach to doing so. However, I must admit that I do not believe that I was true to this paradigm in my application of methods at Allegra; I expected that my theoretical dedication to poststructuralist feminism would mean that my methods would follow suit. That was not the case. By entering this space with a binary understanding of theory and practice, I did not attempt to integrate my paradigm into my interactions with children, thus maintaining a space that demands ?accurate? representation of worlds (Edwards, 2011) and a static perspective of the children?s gender performances. To have integrated theory as practice would have better supported a poststructuralist feminist lens by ?enact[ing] responses that gather and matter rather than simply represent [?] to respond to the other rather than simply represent the other? (Edwards, 2011, p. 530), thus seeing these performances dialogically and more dynamically.  The moment I entered Allegra I was repeatedly drawn into Teacher Mode from my own biases about early childhood settings and personal expectations of myself within them ? a position that precludes a dynamic and multiple metaphor of children. This has come through in many of my quoted conversations with the children; in my role as adult-as-disciplinarian, my use of discourses with the children guided their answers to fit a rigid form of organizing themselves. Although I may have attempted to avoid explicitly providing only two gender possibilities, my actions, what I pursued in our conversations and activities, and my questioning about possibilities for girls and possibilities for boys necessarily drew upon that discourse. To proceed under the guise that I did not draw upon it ? or even that I did the best I could to avoid it ? would be a farce. Where the question ?why?? from a child to an adult may reflect curiosity, the same question from an adult to child might easily suggest a challenge to her or his point of view, a demand to explain his or herself, an evaluating marker of abnormality. This may be especially impactful in questions 	 ?	 ?95	 ?about aspects of an identity that ? as I have argued ? they are continuously learning that they must perform correctly.     Following this, what can come from my analysis? When moving past a singular interpretation of each event, the children were better seen for their multiplicity, as the children involved in some way engaged with each possibility behind each event. As our discussions in my space of adult and researcher regulation continued, the disciplining power of dominant discourses from a binary frame of gender increased the binds around the possibilities for those children. That is not to say, however, that those binds maintained that restriction beyond our exchange.   Despite my intent to examine children?s experiences in social differences--that included, but were not limited to, ?divides of race, gender, ability, age, and class?--my lens narrowed drastically in the field, mostly centering on gender and age. More than anything, in this thesis, specifically in my conversations, observations, and analysis, I almost entirely erased race. I erased race as is commonly done in early childhood spaces, as a perspective of liberal multiculturalism that dictates the racial understandings acceptable for education, and especially for such a sanitized space as early childhood (Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2007). The early childhood space of Allegra was no different. Similar to this, or perhaps more challenging, is the consideration of sexualities in early childhood education (Robinson, 2002), which I hesitated to even include within my definition of ?social differences? at the project?s proposal. What is acceptably noticed and critiqued in this academic field and in many of these spaces of practice is gender inequality ? especially one that is enacted with maintenance of knowable categories to which the children naturally belong. In fact, one educator at Allegra claimed that there is ?too much? challenging to traditional gendered being ?these days,? so that even a critique such as mine was concerning to some in Allegra. To challenge liberal boundaries of inquiry is difficult for a novice, master?s level researcher both in 	 ?	 ?96	 ?the field of academia and in spaces of practice, both of which present discursive boundaries of acceptability. Nonetheless, by participating in this erasure, this thesis perpetuated these trends, consequentially supporting the dominant systems such as white supremacy and heteronormativity beneath them. While I have asserted my ongoing belief that poststructuralism still can guide inquiry, I continue to reflect on how. Although I believe it is an important endeavour to which a researcher may strive, and fight against its discard as ?impossible,? I wonder if we adults, as a privileged group, are capable of ?dismantling? ourselves to the degree it demands. Is thinking we can na?ve to the realities of this dynamic? Though in honest reflection, maybe my pessimism is self-centred: I fear that I may never near my own expectations of research with children. For this reason I was resistant in admitting this critique of my work, just as I initially resisted the topic of princesses and superheroes altogether. Ambition and ego have been the greatest potential barriers to honesty in my work, and I cannot imagine that it is not the same for other researchers on occasion. Perhaps as well, ambition and ego have been and will continue to be the barriers battled in attempting to engage a poststructuralist research approach that attempts to enliven possibilities. As Elijah empathetically pointed out, however, ?recherch is a hard one.?   	 ?	 ?97	 ?Chapter	 ?Five:	 ?Layers	 ?of	 ?Masquerade	 ? 	 ? Through this research, the children have shown me how Butler?s (2008) conceptualization of masquerade can further explain their interactions with a binary frame of gender, which Davies (1989) argues leads to the rigid gendering assimilated by preschoolers, even in the face of efforts towards anti-bias programming. Beyond consuming the ubiquitous and ?unshakeable? binary of male/female and their patriarchally ascribed values through daycare norms, dominant discourses of normal bodies, and purchasable identities, children are negotiating the binary of good/bad and how their bodies? performances fit within these binaries. They are also experiencing a subjection to the binary of adult/child, through which the good/bad binary is enacted upon them. Not only interrelated to one another, these three boundaries work within and through binaries of white/not-white, English/not-English, able/not-able, and so on to create a minefield of regulating, punitive structures. Returning to Deleuze and Guattari?s (1987) conceptualization of the rhizome and my position of the rhizomatic child, in different moments pieces of the child meet these structures, which influence the directions in which he or she may proceed in the constant movements of a rhizomatic self.  This is not to hold a developmental view in which experiences have a causal effect towards a unidirectional course of growth, but instead that every encounter creates a point of impact from which further movement stems. For example, as Nathaniel bounced between ?blue? and ?black? Batman he defined and re-defined himself within the good/bad and ? more subtly ? white/not-white boundaries provided to him (as well as others), but in fluid motions towards his own benefit. These points of impact do not solely affect the child meeting the structure, but also the structure meeting the child?s movements, which is shaped by this connection as well. As Allison hits a discourse that may have disciplined her monster into a ?girl monster,? her 	 ?	 ?98	 ?declaration of this as an acceptable position then changes the interactions between monster characters and femininity. From each intersection, nothing ends but something new begins. Thus, the child may be considered as struggling within and against these structures, such as the rigidity of the male/female binary, just as the binary struggles against and within the child, both finding ways to accommodate each other.  This movement of negotiation was present in several of the conversations I held with the children, through which they negotiated their beliefs and their truths within frameworks of the language available to them, which also mandates a binaried gender, as well as binaries of good/bad bodies and the adult/child relationship structured around our conversations. In many of those conversations, they tested the boundaries of those structured Truths and seemingly decided to submit to their reign. However, before their positions became regulated through our discourse-imbedded conversations, their play occasionally challenged the binaries and broke through them. This was evident with the child who wore the tu-tu, and Allison playing monster. It wasn?t until they were re-territorialized through assumptions such as ?are you a princess,? or my pointed curiosity of Allison?s monster, or the teacher?s amusement at the tu-tu picture and my pointed curiosity in that event, that these children negotiated discourses to reposition themselves as good and appropriately gendered, within the adult gazes and the implicit marginality of childhood.  Within all of these examples, there exists incongruence between the children?s forms of beings and what the adults? discourses were signalling about how they should be performing their bodies. Throughout this thesis, I refer to different theories of masquerade; for some authors (Riviere, 1929; Holmlund, 2002; Moss, 2008; Beloff, 2003; Davies, 2003), masquerade is built upon an assumed stable identity as a reaction to anxieties and insecurities about that stable identity. These are said to be used to hide aspects of oneself that are considered unacceptable in 	 ?	 ?99	 ?society, thus accessing the power of ?normalcy? (Beloff, 2003), or to position oneself as the ideal model of gender and access masculine power to the degree that one is allowed it (Moss, 2008). Meanwhile, Butler (2008) argues that there is no natural identity hidden below this masquerade, but that bodies are inscribed with a fantasy of their gender at birth based on the appearance of their genitalia. She suggests that below this masquerade is solely a narrative of ?realness? toward which a subject strives, but is an imagined under layer that does not exist. I would argue that the children in my research showed that all of these aspects of masquerade come through their engagement with these discourses.  The overall impact of the children?s engagement with their gender performances seemed to reflect an anxiety of performing their identities ?correctly? based on the binaries pervading their world. As Butler (2008) has pointed out, ?the sexed subject is bound to fail? (p. 77); and it seems as though the children in this research were discovering their own inevitable failure at the law of a coherently gendered individual, as they continuously attempted to occupy ideal gender positions. They were failing at doing (Butler?s) masquerade ?right? ? the masquerade that to this point others have put upon them. If one fails at a masquerade under which there is nothing, the only solution may be another masquerade. Thus, their reaction was perhaps a new layer of performance: a pre-designed, purchased hyper-masquerade, to conceal their failed masquerade that they were learning is their ?natural? identity. As this play masquerade merged with their ?identifying? masquerade, they became integrated and helped the children put out a masquerade that appeared as a coherent, gendered identity.  In other words, superhero and princess fantasy narratives helped children access patriarchal power by ascribing for them a coherent, individualized, gendered narrative that serves the interests of patriarchal, capitalist, adult-dominant society. However, I cannot do more than 	 ?	 ?100	 ?posit that the masquerade of masquerading was primarily for my adult gaze, and some observations hint that the same could be the case around the other adults in the setting. I cannot begin to suggest that this is a dominant form of being for them, or even the passive occurrence it might seem to be from my adult/teacher perspective. What may be significant, however, is that as an adult I called them into it through my interactions with them. They embody a knowledge of how to perform their gender ?right? ? especially within the disciplinary adult-defined space ? as their hyper-masquerade becomes their masqueraded ?natural? identity.   As has been suggested, however, not all children can engage power through these narratives. Instead, the children who could access their power used it to inscribe their less successful peers? bodies through these narratives, relegating them to their margins. Within the superhero and princess narrative, positions were created through binaries of good/bad, white/not-white, financial means/lack of means, English/non-English, able/not-able, etc. The greatest example here was of bad guys, who were both implicit and explicit within the superhero narratives, and the ways it connected with the princess narratives. Coherence was put on the children who were implicitly labelled through their subordinate positions in the binaries that composed an ideal superhero. Although discussions in this research did not explicitly relegate a position in the margins of a princess narrative, boys and girls could access their dominant narratives to declare some girls as not princesses, thus coherently labeled a less valuable girl without access to the power of princesshood.   I am sure that at first glance, one might take from this study the message that princess and superhero narratives should be eliminated immediately; parents and teachers alike should ban such play and related artefacts from children?s lives, and by doing so children will cease to be so strictly regulated along these lines. This is simply not the case. Not all children ingrain their lives 	 ?	 ?101	 ?so deeply with princess and/or superhero narratives, if they encounter them at all. However, I would argue that ? at least in a North American context ? all children feel the regulating discourses of gender as inscribed on their body, that nearly all children feel anxieties of performing their body ?right,? especially those in early childhood settings. The ubiquity of these discourses work on a greater societal level, far beyond the scope of this research project.   I would suggest that the biggest application of my work should be to re-think, challenge, and complicate what is considered typical fantasy play in childhood. Although superheroes and princesses were central in this study, the possibility remains that other popular play narratives may serve to benefit dominant discourses. Central to this is asking why certain narratives are so popular and the disciplining effects they may have, and especially what greater agendas these discourses benefit. Departing from an all-or-nothing mentality on ?allowing? this play, and encouraging new ways to engage with and depart from these narratives may be the key. As with Wohlwend?s (2009) work, bringing the popular discourses to the forefront and encouraging creative engagement with them may encourage children to encounter the dissonance and empower them as greater moderators of the narratives than the narratives are of them. They necessarily have an impact on the discourses in return, and so a deliberate, active engagement may present more creative forms of doing so, encouraging dialogue between the children and the narratives that so often dominate the conversation.   This research and the contribution it brings to this topic are also necessary for educators? engagement with these discourses, both inside and outside pre-packaged fantasy narratives. Ongoing reflection in order to understand the regulating discourses entangled in pedagogical approaches may allow for relationships with and spaces for children that take some steps in radicalizing discourses that might otherwise reign dominant and uncomplicated. In saying this, I 	 ?	 ?102	 ?fear adding to the discourses of ?best practice? that create an unoccupiable ideal within which a Good Early Childhood Educator must perpetually aim to fit. Thus, I will clearly admit that no parent, early childhood educator, early childhood setting, or even early childhood policy can prevent the dominating discourses that become inscribed upon children?s bodies. What we can do is our own part in changing these conversations; as discourses constantly evolve, and every use of them has an impact on impacts their trajectories, as more and more voices and practices begin to redefine what constitutes a good, gendered body, the greater discourses are chipped away.   	 ?	 ?103	 ?References Anggard, E. 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Listening to young citizens: The struggle to make real a participatory paradigm in research with young children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 17(2), 249-262.  Pence, A. & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2008). Discourses on quality care: The Investigating 'Quality' project and the Canadian experience. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 9(3), 241-255. Prentice, S. (2009). High stakes: The ?investable? child and the economic reframing of childcare. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 34(3), 687-710.  Punch, S. (2002). Research with children: The same or different from research with adults? Childhood, 9, 321-341.  Rinaldi, C. (2006). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia ? listening, researching and learning. London, UK: Routledge.  	 ?	 ?111	 ?Ringrose, J. & Renold, E. (2010). Normative cruelties and gender deviants: The performative effects of bully discourses for girls and boys in school. British Educational Research Journal, 36(4), 573-596.  Riviere, J. (1929). Womanliness as masquerade. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10, 35-44.   Robinson, K. H. (2002). Making the invisible visible: Gay and lesbian issues in early childhood education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 3(3), 415-434.  Rubin, L. C. (2007). Using superheroes in counseling and play therapy. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.  Sarup, M. (1993). An introductory guide to post-structuralism and postmodernism (2nd Ed.). The University of Georgia Press.  Shugart, H. (2009). Supermarginal. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 6(1), 98-102. Singer, M. (2002). ?Black skins? and white masks: Comic books and the secret of race. African American Review, 36(1), 107-120.  Sokal, L., Katz, H., Chaszewski, L., & Wojcik, C. (2007). Good-bye, Mr. Chips: Male teacher shortages and boys? reading achievement. Sex Roles, 56(9-10), 651-659.  Steele, V. (2003). Fashion, fetish, fantasy. In E. Tseelson, (Ed.). Masquerade and identities (pp. 73-82). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. Surrees, N., & Gunn, A. C. (2010). (Re)marking heteronormativity: Resisting practices in early childhood education contexts. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 35(1), 42-47. Wanzo, R. (2009). The superhero: Meditations on surveillance, salvation, and desire. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 6(1), 93-97.  	 ?	 ?112	 ?Weaver-Hightower, M. (2003). The ?boy turn? in research on gender and education. Review of Educational Research, 73(4), 471-498. Weinstein, N. (2011). All about? Superhero play. Nursery World. Accessed July 30, 2013 from  Weltzien, F. (2005). Masque-ulinities: Changing dress as a display of masculinity in the superhero genre. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 9(2), 229-250.  Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. (2012). ?Child care referral. Accessed from on May 10, 2012.  Wohlwend, K. E. (2009). Damsels in discourse: Girls consuming and producing identity texts through Disney Princess play. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(1), 57-84.  Wohlwend, K. E. (2012). ?Are you guys girls??: Boys, identity texts, and Disney princess play. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 12(1), 3-23.  Wohlwend, K. E. (2012). The boys who would be princesses: Playing with gender identity intertexts in Disney Princess transmedia. Gender and Education, 24(6), 593-610.  	 ?   	 ?	 ?113	 ?Appendix A. Centre Recruiting Letter       To	 ?whom	 ?it	 ?may	 ?concern,	 ?	 ? We	 ?would	 ?like	 ?to	 ?invite	 ?the	 ?early	 ?childhood	 ?classroom	 ?of	 ?your	 ?centre	 ?to	 ?participate	 ?in	 ?this	 ?Master?s	 ?thesis	 ?study,	 ?entitled	 ??How	 ?Three-??	 ?to	 ?Four-??Year-??Old	 ?Children	 ?Experience	 ?Social	 ?Difference	 ?in	 ?Early	 ?Childhood	 ?Settings.?	 ?This	 ?research	 ?will	 ?involve	 ?the	 ?integration	 ?of	 ?one	 ?researcher/early	 ?childhood	 ?educator	 ?into	 ?the	 ?classroom	 ?every	 ?day	 ?for	 ?up	 ?to	 ?two	 ?months:	 ?June	 ?and	 ?July	 ?of	 ?2012.	 ?The	 ?expectation	 ?for	 ?this	 ?researcher?s	 ?involvement	 ?will	 ?centre	 ?on	 ?participation	 ?in	 ?the	 ?classroom?s	 ?activities,	 ?without	 ?participating	 ?in	 ?or	 ?infringing	 ?on	 ?the	 ?role	 ?of	 ?the	 ?early	 ?childhood	 ?educator.	 ?She	 ?will,	 ?however,	 ?be	 ?able	 ?to	 ?provide	 ?a	 ?police	 ?check	 ?with	 ?vulnerable	 ?persons	 ?screening.	 ?	 ?	 ?Through	 ?this	 ?research,	 ?we	 ?want	 ?to	 ?know	 ?more	 ?about	 ?how	 ?young	 ?children	 ?experience	 ?social	 ?difference,	 ?which	 ?may	 ?include	 ?race,	 ?gender,	 ?class,	 ?ability,	 ?age,	 ?and	 ?other	 ?ways	 ?in	 ?which	 ?people	 ?are	 ?categorized.	 ?The	 ?researcher	 ?will	 ?be	 ?looking	 ?for	 ?up	 ?to	 ?seven	 ?child	 ?participants	 ?with	 ?whom,	 ?pending	 ?parental	 ?consent	 ?and	 ?the	 ?children?s	 ?ongoing	 ?willingness,	 ?she	 ?will	 ?do	 ?the	 ?following:	 ?	 ?? Observation	 ?and	 ?participation	 ?in	 ?the	 ?classroom	 ?for	 ?the	 ?first	 ?two	 ?weeks	 ?in	 ?order	 ?to	 ?gain	 ?familiarity	 ?with	 ?the	 ?children,	 ?the	 ?classroom,	 ?and	 ?the	 ?educators,	 ?without	 ?collecting	 ?data,	 ?? Conversational	 ?interviews	 ?with	 ?the	 ?children	 ?regarding	 ?their	 ?daily	 ?experiences	 ?in	 ?the	 ?centre	 ?and	 ?their	 ?own	 ?self-??concepts,	 ?casually	 ?supplemented	 ?with	 ?activities	 ?such	 ?as	 ?drawings,	 ?dramatic	 ?play,	 ?constructions,	 ?etc.	 ??	 ?taking	 ?no	 ?more	 ?than	 ?15	 ?minutes,	 ?three	 ?times	 ?a	 ?week,	 ?per	 ?child.	 ?We	 ?believe	 ?that	 ?asking	 ?about	 ?these	 ?topics	 ?will	 ?help	 ?the	 ?children	 ?explain	 ?what	 ?matters	 ?in	 ?their	 ?social	 ?experiences,	 ?? Ongoing	 ?observation	 ?and	 ?participation	 ?in	 ?children?s	 ?activities.	 ?	 ?Classroom	 ?teachers	 ?will	 ?not	 ?be	 ?asked	 ?to	 ?participate	 ?in	 ?this	 ?study,	 ?and	 ?so	 ?will	 ?not	 ?be	 ?included	 ?in	 ?interviews.	 ?	 ?	 ?This	 ?research	 ?will	 ?fulfill	 ?the	 ?thesis	 ?requirement	 ?of	 ?the	 ?researcher?s	 ?Master?s	 ?of	 ?Arts	 ?degree	 ?in	 ?Early	 ?Childhood	 ?Education	 ?with	 ?the	 ?University	 ?of	 ?British	 ?Columbia.	 ?As	 ?such,	 ?the	 ?results	 ?of	 ?this	 ?study	 ?will	 ?be	 ?reported	 ?in	 ?a	 ?Master?s	 ?thesis	 ?and	 ?may	 ?be	 ?published	 ?in	 ?journal	 ?articles	 ?and	 ?books.	 ?It	 ?has	 ?received	 ?approval	 ?from	 ?the	 ?Behavioural	 ?Research	 ?Ethics	 ?Board	 ?at	 ?UBC,	 ?and	 ?is	 ?supervised	 ?by	 ?Dr.	 ?Deirdre	 ?Kelly,	 ?who	 ?may	 ?be	 ?contacted	 ?at	 ?by	 ?telephone	 ?or	 ?e-??mail.	 ?	 ?	 ?For	 ?further	 ?questions,	 ?please	 ?feel	 ?free	 ?to	 ?contact	 ?Jennifer	 ?Moule	 ?by	 ?telephone	 ?or	 ?e-??mail.	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?Sincerely,	 ?	 ?Jennifer	 ?Moule	 ?	 ?Master?s	 ?Candidate	 ?Early	 ?Childhood	 ?Education	 ?The	 ?University	 ?of	 ?British	 ?Columbia	 ?	 ? 	 ?Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education   Faculty of Education Vancouver Campus 2616 - 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4 	 ?Phone 604 822 8638   Fax 604 822 8234 	 ?	 ? 	 ?	 ?	 ?114	 ?Appendix	 ?B.	 ?Educator	 ?Consent	 ?Form	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ? Consent Form How Three- to Four-Year-Old Children Experience Social Difference in Early Childhood Settings.  Consent form for Educators  I. WHO IS CONDUCTING THE STUDY?  Principal Investigator:  Dr. Deirdre Kelly  Department of Educational Studies Ponderosa G-14    Co-Investigator: Jennifer Moule Master?s of Arts Candidate Early Childhood Education Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education    This research is being conducted as part of a Master?s Thesis: a public document used to satisfy the requirements of the degree in progress.   II. INVITATION AND STUDY PURPOSE  Why Should You Take Part In This Study? You are invited to participate in this research study because you are an educator in a not-for-profit early childhood classroom in Vancouver, which serves three- to five-year-old children and has at least two educators.   Why Are We Doing This Study? Through this research, we want to learn more about how young children experience social difference. The ?social differences? we are talking about include but are not limited to: race, gender, class, ability, and age, as well as other ways in which people are categorized. We believe that the best way to learn about children is by being with them in their spaces and asking them about themselves.   III. WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THE STUDY?            Version 1 | Page 1 of 3   Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education   Faculty of Education Vancouver Campus 2616 - 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4 	 ?Phone 604 822 8638   Fax 604 822 8234 	 ?	 ?	 ?115	 ?If you say ?Yes,? here is how we will do the study: ? The researcher will conduct observation of the classroom activities; in some cases she will record your actions and words in the context of the lives of the child participants. ? As the children are the focus of this research, your unrelated actions and words will not be documented. ? Observations and interpretation of teacher behaviour are not the focus of this research. If you say ?No,? we will ensure the following: ? Your actions and words will not be documented in this research.   IV. STUDY RESULTS  The results of this study will be reported in a Master?s thesis and may be published in journal articles and books.   V. IS THERE ANY WAY BEING IN THIS STUDY COULD BE BAD FOR YOU?  You may feel uncomfortable having a researcher recording your behaviour over the course of your workday. This may lead to feeling judged, evaluated, or supervised. To avoid this, the researcher will collaborate with you towards agreeing over what her role in your classroom will be; thus, if these feelings arise she will be open to discussing them with you. Furthermore, her supervisor, Dr. Deirdre Kelly, may be contacted for this discussion if you would prefer. Judging, evaluating, or supervising your work is not the purpose of this research, and so the researcher?s observations, notes, and final document will not reflect this perspective.   VI. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS STUDY?  Direct Benefits: You may find benefit in having an extra adult body in the classroom. While her primarily role will be to participate in classroom activities as an observer, as well as conduct conversations with particular children, her presence may be helpful in occupying the children at particular times.  Indirect Benefits: Your participation in this study may help the field of early childhood education understand how difference is experienced from the perspective of young children. We hope that adding this perspective to the conversation will impact some of the assumptions held about social difference, how children experience it, and the early childhood classroom?s influence on this experience. By challenging these assumptions, this research may affect how social justice is considered in the field of early childhood education.   In an offer to share this indirect benefit with you, the researcher will present an interactive display ? during which she may answer any questions ? that conveys the conclusions of the research to parents and educators in a format that maintains confidentiality.     VII. MEASURES TO MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY            Version 1 | Page 2 of 3      	 ?	 ?116	 ?Data collected that involves you will never be attached to your name. In field notes, you will be referred to as either Teacher A or B. For final documentation, including publication and reporting of results, you will be able to choose your own pseudonym to represent data about you. Identifying factors will also be changed in order to lessen the possibility of recognition even within the early childhood setting. Additionally, audio recordings and field notes will be stored in a locked cabinet when not in use.  VIII. WHO CAN YOU CONTACT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STUDY?  If you have any questions or concerns about what we are asking of you, please contact Dr. Deirdre Kelly or Jennifer Moule. Their telephone numbers are listed at the top of the first page of this form.  IX. WHO CAN YOU CONTACT IF YOU HAVE COMPLAINTS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THE STUDY?  If you have any concerns about your rights as a research participant and/or your experiences while participating in this study, you may contact the Research Subject Information Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at 604-822-8598 or if long distance e-mail or call toll free 1-877-822-8598.   X. PARTICIPANT CONSENT AND SIGNATURE  To take part in this study is entirely up to you. You have the right to refuse to participate in this study. If you decide to take part, you may choose to pull out of the study at any time without giving a reason and without any negative impact on you.    Your signature below indicates that you have received a copy of this consent form for your records.  Your signature indicates that you consent to participate in the study.    Participant Signature      Date   Printed name of the Participant signing above.  	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?          Version 1 | Page 3 of 3   	 ?	 ?117	 ?Appendix C. Parent Advertisement  	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ? 	 ?Attention Parents!  Your child is invited to participate in a study titled   How Three- to Four-Year-Old Children Experience Social Difference in Early Childhood Settings  conducted by a Master?s student in Early Childhood Education from the University of British Columbia.   We want to learn more about how young children experience social difference. We believe that the best way to learn about children is by being with them in their spaces and asking them about themselves.   Child participants will be observed and interviewed, and may participate in familiar activities with the researcher over the course of two months while they are at the early childhood centre.   This research has received approval from the Behavioural Research Ethics Board at UBC, and is supervised by Dr. Deirdre Kelly, who may be contacted by telephone or e-mail.    For further questions, please feel free to contact Jennifer Moule by telephone or e-mail.   Are you interested in learning more about this research towards possibly including your child in this study?  YES             NO    Please return this letter to your classroom teacher by _________________________________________.  CHECKING ?YES? ON THIS FORM DOES NOT IMPLY THAT YOU CONSENT TO YOUR CHILD?S PARTICIPATION IN THIS STUDY. WITHDRAWAL FROM PARTICIPATION IS WELCOME AT ANY TIME. 	 ?	 ? 	 ? 	 ? 	 ? 	 ? 	 ?	 ? Version	 ?2	 ?  Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education   Faculty of Education Vancouver Campus 2616 - 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4 	 ?Phone 604 822 8638   Fax 604 822 8234 	 ?	 ?	 ?118	 ?Appendix D. Parent Consent Form 	 ?	 ?	 ?   Consent Form How Three- to Four-Year-Old Children Experience Social Difference in Early Childhood Settings.  Consent form for Parents  I. WHO IS CONDUCTING THE STUDY?  Principal Investigator:  Dr. Deirdre Kelly  Department of Educational Studies Ponderosa G-14   Co-Investigator: Jennifer Moule Master?s of Arts Candidate Early Childhood Education Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education    This research is being conducted as part of a Master?s Thesis: a public document used to satisfy the requirements of the degree in progress.   II. INVITATION AND STUDY PURPOSE  Why Should Your Child Take Part In This Study? You are invited to consent for your child?s participation in this research study because she or he is in a not-for-profit early childhood classroom in Vancouver, which serves three- to five-year-old children and has at least two educators.   Why Are We Doing This Study? Through this research, we want to learn more about how young children experience social difference. The ?social differences? we are talking about include but are not limited to: race, gender, class, ability, and age, as well as other ways in which people are categorized. We believe that the best way to learn about children is by being with them in their spaces and asking them about themselves.   III. WHAT DO THE CHILDREN DO IN THE STUDY?              Version 2 | Page 1 of 4 Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education   Faculty of Education Vancouver Campus 2616 - 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4 	 ?Phone 604 822 8638   Fax 604 822 8234 	 ?	 ?	 ?119	 ?If you say ?Yes,? here is how we will do the study: ? The co-investigator will spend every day for two months (Month 1, 2012, Month 2, 2012) in your child?s classroom. Conversational interviews and/or activities such as drawings, etc. will take no more than 15 minutes, up to three times a week. ? For the first two weeks, she will only be observing and participating with the children in daily classroom activities so that they can get to know her and become more comfortable with her being there.  ? She will conversationally interview children ? including your child ? about their experiences in child care and about who they are, which may include: what they like and do not like, their friends, their daily activities, and their feelings. Asking about these topics, and encouraging your child to consider ?why?? they are a certain way, will help your child explain what matters in her or his social experience of the child care setting. We believe that how children experience their social worlds can demonstrate how they experience and understand social difference.  ? It is important to know that other topics and questions may come up based on the classroom events that occur during the two months of research.  ? These interviews will be audio recorded. ? She may ask children to create drawings, maps, build things, play, etc. as well as observe as they naturally occur. She may ask your child about these activities as well. These conversations will be audio recorded.  If you say ?No,? we will ensure the following: ? The researcher may interact with your child through her participation in the classroom, but she will collect no data surrounding her interactions with your child, ? Your child will not be audio recorded. If she or he is accidentally recorded, this portion of the tape will be deleted immediately.  ? Your child will not be asked questions. ? Your child?s activities will not be documented through observational field notes.  IV. STUDY RESULTS  The results of this study will be reported in a Master?s thesis and may be published in journal articles and books.   V. IS THERE ANY WAY BEING IN THIS STUDY COULD BE BAD FOR YOUR CHILD?  Asking your child questions in general, or questions of this type may result in her or him feeling uncomfortable, anxious, or annoyed. These feelings may arise because children are often asked questions by adults that require a ?correct? answer, and so they may feel pressure to answer ?correctly? or to fulfill adult expectations. They may also arise because your child does not want to be asked questions about these topics, or at the chosen times, or at all, but feels as though she or he has to oblige the researcher. We believe that being asked questions about these topics is not an unusual experience for your child, and so if these feelings do arise, they will be mild with little consequence.  In an attempt to avoid or lessen the impact of this type of situation, children will be invited to answer questions, but doing so will not be required. In addition to reminding children that              Version 2 | Page 2 of 4    	 ?	 ?120	 ? they do not need to answer any question, we will continuously aim to follow cues that indicate that your child is uncomfortable answering certain questions. In these cases, the conversation will change direction or end completely. Your child will never be scolded for a lack of participation or cooperation with our research methods. However, we recognize that your child may feel as though they have to participate because they are used to following adults? instructions.   Although all full-time children are offered the chance to participate in this study, only some will become participants. Being one of approximately 7 participants out of a group of 16 or more, your child may feel uncomfortable because of the particular attention from the researcher. This may impact his or her status among other children. While this may be a risk, there is also a possibility for this situation to benefit your child (see below). We believe that with appropriate observation by teachers and the researcher, it is a situation that can be monitored and intervened upon as appropriate.   In an aim to avoid the risk, attempts will be made to integrate the research conversations and activities into the daily activities of the classroom, thus decreasing the potential isolation of your child. The researcher and teachers will meanwhile observe for signs of this, including your child?s and the other children?s reactions. However, if this impact is observed, then research with your child will be stopped and the researcher will work with the teachers towards mending the social atmosphere. We will also meet with parents and the child as a group in order to identify which community resources might be beneficial in rectifying this negative impact, whether emotionally, socially, or developmentally.  VI. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR YOUR CHILD?S PARTICIPATION IN THIS STUDY?  Direct Benefits: Your child may directly benefit from this study by the extra attention she or he may experience by the co-researcher. While this may pose some risk (see above), the extra attention and feeling of being listened to may instead positively impact your child?s self-esteem and/or social status among the children.   This research will also give your child an opportunity to practice verbal skills, which may show to improve his or her development or confidence in this area.   Indirect Benefits: Your child?s participation in this study may help the field of early childhood education understand how difference is experienced from the perspective of young children. We hope that adding this perspective to the conversation will impact some of the assumptions held about social difference, how children experience it, and the early childhood classroom?s influence on this experience. By challenging these assumptions, this research may impact how social justice is considered in the field of early childhood education.   In an offer to share this indirect benefit with you, the researcher will present an interactive display ? during which she may answer any questions ? that conveys the conclusions of the research to parents and educators in a format that maintains confidentiality.                          Version 2 | Page 3 of 4    	 ?	 ?121	 ? VII. MEASURES TO MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY  In field notes, children?s names will be omitted and replaced with a letter between A to F. In writing or reporting on this research, pseudonyms ? that may be chosen by the children ? will be used in place of their names. Identifying factors will also be changed in order to prevent recognition even within the early childhood setting. Additionally, audio recordings and field notes will be stored in a locked cabinet when not in use.   VIII. WHO CAN YOU CONTACT IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STUDY?  If you have any questions or concerns about what we are asking of you, please contact the study leader or one of the study staff. The names and telephone numbers are listed at the top of the first page of this form.   IX. WHO CAN YOU CONTACT IF YOU HAVE COMPLAINTS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THE STUDY?  If you have any concerns about your child?s rights as a research subject and/or his or her experiences while participating in this study, you may contact the Research Subject Information Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at 604-822-8598 or if long distance e-mail or call toll free 1-877-822-8598.   X. PARTICIPANT CONSENT AND SIGNATURE  For your child to take part in this study is entirely up to you. You have the right to refuse for your child to participate in this study. If you decide that she or he may take part, you may choose to pull your child out of the study at any time without giving a reason and without any negative impact on your or your child?s experience at the child care centre.   Your signature below indicates that you have received a copy of this consent form for your records.  Your signature indicates that you consent for your child to participate in the study.    Parent or Guardian Signature      Date   Printed name of the Parent or Guardian signing above.  	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?	 ?           Version 2 | Page 4 of 4   	 ?	 ?122	 ?Appendix E. Interview Guide How	 ?Three-??	 ?to	 ?Four-??Year-??Old	 ?Children	 ?Experience	 ?Social	 ?Difference	 ?in	 ?Early	 ?Childhood	 ?Settings	 ?	 ?What Must be Considered in Interviews with Young Children? In conducting these interviews, it will be important to acknowledge the power imbalance inherent in language, especially between adults and children. I will aim to do this by celebrating many ways of expression, but also acknowledging that ?children?s accounts have their own validity in terms of being their own perspectives about the way the world seems to them? (Punch, 2002, p. 322), including their own forms of verbal expression. As such, patterned formats are not necessarily applicable to working with young children, and as an interviewer I must therefore ??be open to changes and surprises? (Eide & Winger, 2005, p. 81), but ?planned according [?] to the [apparent] expressional style of the child? (Irwin & Johnson, 2005, p. 826). Thus, I intend to engage in these ?conversation[s] with a special purpose? (p. 80) for the duration of data collection, towards a situation ?during which meanings are conveyed through interactions? (Clark, 2011, p. 76). In these interview moments then, it will be extremely important to follow the children?s lead in both conversation and activity. I will aim to follow the topics and priorities presented by the children, respect when they refuse a conversation, a topic, or an activity, and acknowledge their forms of communication as valuable in their own right.  What Will the Focus of these Interviews Be? As I am focusing on the child?s experience in ECE, I will strive to have conversations that focus on what the child wants to talk about. Because the social experience (which may include experience of social difference) is key in this, I will attempt to have conversations about the child?s self, and his or her experience in the child care centre. My focus is not on who-does-what, but instead on how the child speaks of these events, which I believe demonstrates her or his understanding of them. I believe that this may be accessed by asking about preferred activities, the events of the day (and thus the child?s experience and interpretation of them), and what happens in certain social situations in the child care setting, including routines, behaviour guidance, etc.  How Will these Interviews Be Done? As previously mentioned, these interviews will be formatted more as ?conversation[s] with a special purpose? (Clark, 2011, p. 80). To access the ways that the child understands the events of focus, I intend to focus on posing ?why?? questions to the children ? questions which are often used by the children themselves ? so that they may present their interpretation of events. These questions will aim to build off of the things children bring up during these conversations, which may be sparked by being asked about their days, what they like, etc. Sometimes, in order to spark new interests, ensure a comfortable environment, or even just add interest to the conversation sessions, children will be invited to choose an activity to do, if they would like. Regardless of the nature of the activity, it will sometimes become the focus of these conversations so that children have the chance to explain their thoughts about what they are doing or producing. These thoughts are expected to arise from typical activity-based conversation, which may involve what-, why-, how-, or who-questions intended to broaden the child?s narrative on the activity.   


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