Performative Spaces: Negotiations in the Literature Classroom

Activity: Talk or presentationConference presentation


The term performativity is used in and across research disciplines, such as language philosophy, gender and cultural studies, and art and literature studies. Inspired by former uses of the concept within other disciplines, this study elaborates on what performativity can offer in research on literary education. The study is driven by two questions: 1) how can students’ meaning making in the literature classroom be approached when thinking with performativity and 2) what are the potentials and challenges of applying performativity in the study of interpretations in the literature classroom? Using a thinking with theory approach (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012) the authors plug in two theoretical conceptualisations of performativity, a poststructuralist (Butler, 1997, 2010) and a posthumanist (Barad, 2003, 2007), as they explore empirical examples from their previous studies on students’ literary meaning making processes in lower secondary education, encompassing both student group conversations and student filmmaking practices. The analyses highlight how performativity emphasises – and maybe even more importantly, provides theoretical and conceptual tools for studying – ongoing processes and unfoldings in the literature classroom, suggesting and elaborating on negotiation as a key concept. The study provides suggestions on what performativity can offer in research on literary education and relates this to recent issues in research on literary education in the Nordic countries as well as contemporary understandings of Bildung.


The presentation was part of the symposium Working with Literature in Nordic Secondary Eduacation, arranged by the steering group for Nordic Network on Research in Literature Education.
Period17 Jun 2022
Event titleThe 13th Conference of International Association for Research in L1 Education
Event typeConference
Conference number13
LocationNicosia, CyprusShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • literary education
  • performativity
  • poststructuralism
  • posthumanism