Another Queer Theory:
Reading Complexity Theory
as a Moral and Ethical Imperative 1
Dennis J. Sumara
For two years we participated in a study with eight other queer teachers into the complex relationship between subjectivity and pedagogy. Naming ourselves the Queer Teachers' Study Group, we endeavored to specify, for ourselves and for others, the phenomenological particularity of enacting pedagogy as queer subjects and, as well, the ongoing struggle to develop subjects with queer pedagogies.
During one of our day-long meetings, we found ourselves preoccupied by our conflicted relationship with our bodies and the various ways we struggled to adorn, drape, conceal, elaborate, and exoticize them. Emerging from a series of writing practices and readings dealing with “embodiment, ” the topic of clothing served to focus our attention on the ways in which cultural practices of concealment and identification shape biological bodies and cultural identities.
Because all of us identified as lesbian, gay, or transsexual, clothing presented a way for us to identify with or against mainstream beliefs about the lines that divide male from female, gay from straight, dyke from fag, butch from femme, and so on. As we discussed our often conflicted relationships with what we wear—and with the cultural identities and identifications clothing announces—it became evident that we were caught up in a queer set of practices in which it was unclear whether our bodies, psyches, sexualities, and experiences were shaped by clothing or whether we participated in that shaping through the costumes we chose to wear. Michael, for example, explained how he could never find clothing (men's