On love, pleasure and the passions in feminist research
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
My doctoral thesis concerns the political potential embedded in contemporary post paradigmatic feminist epistemologies. I argue that that feminist research need not be concerned entirely with women's pain, but that the pleasures of teaching, learning and knowledge-making, and the passions we bring to these activities, are equally worthy of discussion. Before I began the thesis writing process, there were stories I wished to tell about the nature of a passionate pedagogy. These were stories of delight, of seduction of the student into the pleasures of teaching and learning, of the dance between the knowledge, the knowers and the known. They were stories of the three-way pedagogical exchange of energies, which I recognised in the work of Patti Lather, where what is created is more than the sum of its parts. They were stories of working out of love, and a woman-to woman connection born of a respect for difference and an impulse towards generosity and inclusion. They were stories, too, of the uses of the imagination in coming to know; stories of the inseparability of rationality, the passions and the life force. What I could not know at the outset of the research and writing process, though, was the nature of the moments of insight that would be revealed to me as this self-reflexive writing process occurred. There are two significant moments of insight that emerge during the writing of the thesis which unsettle, extend, dislodge and illuminate my preconceptions about the dimensions of a passionate pedagogy. Each of these moments is concerned with moving on from a state of paralysis, of being stuck in a fixed and certain position, into a state where possibilities and certainties coexist. In this paper I focus on the first of these moments, which occurs in a discussion with a friend and colleague about love between women and the process of connecting across difference. In so doing, I illuminate the complex doubleness of the need to move between the certainties underpinning passion and commitment, and the fluidity and willingness to move which accompanies the kind of radical openness necessary to engage in contemporary feminist praxis.