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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Who’s in drag? : strong critical thinking about prejudice, normalcy, gender and sexuality Zavalkoff, Anne


This project undertakes a conceptual exploration of prejudice formation, maintenance, and reduction within the context of Educational Studies. It investigates some common sources of prejudice and offers an ethically defensible, realistic resource for teaching aimed at diminishing gender and sexual prejudice. In doing so, this project aims to make three important contributions to social justice research and practice. First, it brings together insights from the feminist, post-structuralist work of the identity theorist Judith Butler and from the philosopher of education Richard Paul. I argue that, taken together, their independent work on performativity, undisciplined thinking, and egocentrism offers a more complete picture of the dynamics that support and undermine social practice and belief than either can provide alone. Second, this project draws on the literature of strong critical thinking to argue that self-knowledge plays a vital but thorny role in reducing personal prejudice. To this end, it explores four interconnected aspects of self about which people may lack a deep understanding: (1) their modes of thinking, i.e., the manner in which they form their beliefs; (2) their background logics, i.e., the content and relationships of their beliefs about themselves and the world; (3) their dispositions, i.e., their habitual cognitive, affective, and behavioural inclinations; and (4) their identities, i.e., people’s own experience of who they are, what they value, and how they relate to the world. I argue that the knowledges, competencies, and dispositions essential to strong critical thinking can reduce prejudices rooted in performativity, undisciplined thinking, and egocentrism, as it helps to develop self-knowledge, improve purposeful thinking, and modify character traits. Third, this project provides educators addressing heterosexism and homophobia a conceptual tool--The Continuum of (Subversive) Drag Performance--designed to encourage strong critical thinking about gender and sexuality. The six ranges of the continuum facilitate the analysis of pervasive conceptions of gender and sexual normalcy and the wide-spread patterns of performance in which they are based. They also support educators in creating communities of inquiry that are relatively flexible, unconstrained by common conceptions of normalcy, humour-filled, and ripe with opportunities for the constructive practice of critical thinking.

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