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Rhizo-textual analyses of educational policy documents

conference contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Eileen Honan
In this paper, I describe methodological applications of Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) understanding of rhizomatic knowledge systems. I draw on rhizo-textual analyses of two different policy documents used in Australia to direct teachers in their teaching of English in primary (elementary) schools.

A rhizo-textual analysis is not concerned with following traditional, scientifically rigorous channels through a study; from data collection, through analysis, to findings that report some objectively discovered truth. Rather, a rhizo-textual analysis is a mapping of connections, of the fleshy tubers that are the rhizome. The mapping draws on various, and often contradictory work, ideas and concepts. What would seem to be "disparate phenomena" enables me to "connect diverse fragments of data in ways that produce new linkages and reveal discontinuities" (Alvermann, 2000, p. 118).

As Deleuze and Guattari point out, "A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, social sciences, and social struggles" (1987, p. 7). This ceaselessness of the connections between rhizomes shifts attention away from the construction of a particular reading of any text towards a new careful attendance to the multiplicity of linkages that can be mapped between any text and other texts, other readings, other assemblages of meaning. Elizabeth Grosz describes rhizomatic texts as "a process of scattering thoughts, scrambling terms, concepts and practices, forging linkages, becoming a form of action" (1995, p. 126)

Within the policy texts I have analysed, this scrambling and scattered process establishes connections between disparate discursive systems, about literacy, about texts, about students and how students learn, and about teaching so that the version of literacy teaching that is produced seems to be normative, to be unquestionably rational, and therefore to be beyond critique.



International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (1st : 2005 : Urbana-Champaign, Ill.)


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First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

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