Chapter 5: The Art of the Possible: Reconceptualising Sexuality Education as Rhizomatic Experimentation

  • Kathleen Quinlivan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


This chapter provides a more in depth exploration of the pedagogical implications for and teachers and researchers of reconceptualising school based sexuality education encounters as experimental sites that can engage more fully with young people’s lived experiences of sex and gender politics. Situating Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) inter-related concepts of affective assemblage and becoming within a broader project of rhizomatics, I show how in my work with students as a researcher, I found rhizomatics useful as both an analytic for understanding the social and political moment and a politic for becoming differently within it (Youdell, 2011). I map the ways in which, over time, my orientation to understand and explore the effects of the many and varied ways that students were learning about sexualities and relationships in their lives, shifted the traditional ‘rules of engagement’ between us at school. Frequently confounded, over the years, I show how I developed the capacity to more fully attend to the present and respond rhizomatically to what emerged, and what that orientation produced. I close by considering the pedagogical challenges and affordances of conceptualising sexuality education encounters in schools as rhizomic.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Quinlivan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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