Reimagining body pedagogy and body disaffection in schools

  • Niamh Ni Shuilleabhain

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is situated amidst claims of a rise in eating disorders amongst young people in the UK. Previous research has explored the implications of dominant body pedagogies in schools more generally. My research draws on new materialist and posthuman perspectives to advance a more specific and nuanced inquiry into how school-based body pedagogies work to produce the conditions for body disaffection amongst some young people. I explore how body pedagogies more ‘response-able’ for body disaffection and eating distress may be developed and implemented in schools. I enact a theory-method approach, working with students and teachers to co-create different critical and creative pedagogical approaches to health education. My findings show that body pedagogies work through the material, affective and non-human relations of schooling in producing the conditions for body disaffection amongst young people. I demonstrate body disaffection as an embodied, relational and more-than-human phenomena. My research highlights the limitations of popular pedagogical approaches to addressing body disaffection in schools. The implications of this research are that we may move beyond rationalist pedagogy and a focus on critical media literacy in responding to body disaffection and eating distress. I build on the work advocating for creative methods by demonstrating arts-based practice as a generative means of destabilizing and reconfiguring the relations through which the body becomes. I argue for further exploration of how creative pedagogies may be implemented in schools in order to work with the tensions that produce discomfort amongst students and teachers. My research demonstrates this as essential in order to develop and enact body pedagogies more ‘response-able’ for body disaffection and eating distress in schools.
Date of Award14 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorEmma Rich (Supervisor), Jessica Francombe-Webb (Supervisor) & Simone Fullagar (Supervisor)

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