The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 473–486 | Cite as

Meet the phallic teacher: designing curriculum and identity in a neoliberal imaginary

  • Lucinda McKnightEmail author


This paper introduces the concept of the phallic teacher, a spectral figure negotiated in teachers’ everyday work and in school-based disciplinary communities of practice. Reporting the findings of a 3-year Australian doctoral study completed in 2014, the paper looks closely at how English teachers design both curriculum and identity in an environment where feminist and poststructuralist work of the late 20th century seems to have lost traction. These observations made here are based on empirical research in a Victorian school, combined with autoethnographic writing and other materials connecting teachers’ and researchers’ lives to the broader cultural postfeminist debate. The paper makes room for an absent subject, the teacher, marginalised in neoliberal discourses of curriculum and critiques the masculinist hegemony of outcomes and standards-based education. This provides us with new ways to challenge increasingly dominant current paradigms and to conceptualise a different future in which the standpoints of teachers are privileged in curriculum theory and curricular innovation.


Feminism Phallicism Neoliberalism Postfeminism Curriculum Gender Phallic teacher 


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMont AlbertAustralia

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