Curriculum as a Discursive and Performative Space for Subjectivity and Learning: Understanding Immigrant Adolescents’ Language Use in Classroom Discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between language curriculum and learners’ subjectivity through a poststructuralist perspective. I use performativity theory to highlight the constituting power of language and integrate it with critical race theory to understand the relationships among curriculum, classroom interaction, and subjectivity negotiation of 3 immigrant adolescents in one U.S. secondary multilingual classroom. Drawing on data from a critical ethnography, this classroom discourse study analyzes instructional materials, classroom interactions, and interviews to understand how the teacher-designed curriculum for one routinized vocabulary activity—namely, the sentence-starter language practice—constructed subjectivity for students and how the immigrant youths negotiated their racialized, gendered, and schooled subjectivities in relation to the curriculum content. This analysis shows that the sentence starters, designed as scaffolding tools, served an implicit goal of constituting students to become “good learners.” The focal students often appropriated the sentence starters to challenge, subvert, or conform to the prevailing discourses constructed in the curriculum and classroom discourses. This analysis illustrates how curriculum can constitute a discursive and performative space in which students negotiate subjectivity and meaning in relation to power within and beyond classroom discourses. This article concludes with discussions of implications of this poststructuralist theorization of curriculum for research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-859
Number of pages18
JournalModern Language Journal
Volume104
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • classroom discourse
  • critical race theory
  • curriculum
  • immigrant adolescents
  • performativity
  • subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Curriculum as a Discursive and Performative Space for Subjectivity and Learning: Understanding Immigrant Adolescents’ Language Use in Classroom Discourse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this