Gendered differences in Higher Education: the politics of emotion

Seminar presented by Professor Penny Jane Burke, Visiting Scholar

2:00pm Friday 8 September 2017

A2 Arts Lecture Theatre, UNE


In this seminar I explore questions of gender and difference in higher education pedagogies in relation to the politics of emotion. Higher Education scholars have been analysing the processes by which the purpose of higher education has been radically altered by neoliberal frameworks. Neoliberalism increasingly restricts our pedagogical imagination, concealing the ways that educational encounters form subjectivities, ways of being and doing. However, neoliberalism works in complex ways with other oppressive forces, such as patriarchy and institutional racism, to limit our conceptualization of ‘diversity’ and ‘difference’ and these dynamics reinforce our complicity in the politics of misrecognition, even when we strive towards social justice approaches. I will consider the ways that difference is constituted through gendered relations and misrecognition, and is experienced at the level of emotion, for example through symbolic forms of violence such as shaming. New formations of patriarchy within neoliberalism ensure that characteristics associated with difference in HE, such as ‘being emotional’ or ‘caring’, are regulated and controlled through a range of new disciplinary technologies, including of teaching. Pedagogical relations are thus deeply implicated in the gendered politics of (mis)recognition, and profoundly connected to the impact of the emotional on the body and the self. Through misrecognition, which is felt in and through the body, some bodies are pathologized through misogynistic discourses that manipulate fear of the ‘feminization of higher education’. In this context, I will consider the possibilities of reimagining difference within feminist and critical pedagogical frameworks, aiming to open up interventionist spaces that address our relationality and connectivity.


Penny Jane Burke is Global Innovation Chair of Equity and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Equity in Higher Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Penny is passionately dedicated to developing methodological, theoretical and pedagogical frameworks that support critical understanding and practice of equity and social justice in HE. She’s published extensively in the field including Accessing Education effectively widening participation (Burke, 2002, Trentham Books), Reconceptualising Lifelong Learning: Feminist Interventions (Burke and Jackson, 2007, Routledge) and The Right to Higher Education: Beyond widening participation (Burke, 2012, Routledge) and Changing Pedagogical Spaces in Higher Education (Burke, Crozier and Misiaszek ,2016 Routledge). Penny is Editor of Teaching in Higher Education and recipient of the UK’s prestigious Higher Education National Teaching Fellow award in 208. Penny has held the posts of Professor of Education at the University of Roehampton, the University of Sussex and Reader of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Launch seminar recording