Desire in Translation: White Masculinity and TESOL

Publication Type:
Journal Article
TESOL Quarterly, 2013, 47 (1), pp. 122 - 147
Issue Date:
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This article reports on a study of Western male English language teachers and considers the ways in which their identities were shaped in relation to discourses of masculinity and heterosexuality. The article first argues that masculinity and heterosexuality have remained unmarked categories in research on TESOL teacher identities. It then draws on interview data with 11 White Australian men and considers the discourses of gender and sexuality in their accounts of English language teaching in Japanese commercial eikaiwa gakkô (English language conversation schools). The analysis suggests that although some enjoy the privileges that attach to being a White, Western male, they also struggle to negotiate the eikaiwa gakkô as a contact zone where the professional and personal, the educational and commercial, the pedagogical and the sexual coexist. In this ambiguous space, discourses of White male embodiment, and of sexualised desire between teacher and student, are perceived to be in conflict with discourses of an acceptable masculine professional identity, and may limit the professional and pedagogical aspirations of the male teachers. The article concludes that it is timely for conversations about gender and sexuality as aspects of professional identity to include accounts of masculinity and heterosexuality as integral to professional practice in TESOL. © 2012 TESOL International Association.
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