This thesis travels along a particular storyline, using the metaphor of a rock ‘n roll concert for its presentation. For me, the act of constructing a thesis is one of undertaking a performance, much like a musical recital. It is an instantiation of discursively positioning myself in the experience of becoming-researcher. However, the paradox for me in performing this thesis comes from working with striated structures that the academy expect of the diligent doctoral candidate, while simultaneously striving to work within the smooth spaces of performance. As such, while this thesis is temporally bound as a moment-in-time performance, it is informed by poststructural thinking, in particular the Deleuzian figurations of rhizome and lines of flight, to (re)present the lived experiences of five teenagers as musickers, schoolgirls and schoolboys, and literacies learners.
For my study, I was interested in mapping connections between musicking – any act of music, schooling and literacies learning for the teenage musickers I worked with, muddling within the intermezzo to unpack some of the storylines they take up through subject positions as musickers, schoolgirls, schoolboys, and literacies learners. Such a mapping of the intermezzo allows lessons to be learnt for literacies educators in order to make better connections between home and school literacy practices. For example, while I do not propose that music is a language or that musicking is literacy, I demonstrate that the presupposed distinction can be rejected as an arbitrary category that limits the possibilities of knowledge that could be made available to us in a rethinking of literacies learning in less codified and striated ways. Thus, literacies learning becomes an assemblage, a multiplicity of multiplicities that includes musicking. The power of musicking is in its deterritorialisation of striated spaces, folding and smoothing and refolding, which provides its seductive and inimitable power in the lives of young people. As such, the various lifeworlds of young people impact heavily on their schooling experiences and school-based literacies learning, which can often be at odds with their literate activities outside of school environments.
Data were collected through a series of interviews conducted with five teenage musickers over the space of several months and interview transcripts were (re)storied using an approach to constructing rhizomatic storylines as song lyrics that borrows from arts-based research, feminist poststructuralism and narrative inquiry in education that (re)tells and (re)presents stories as lived experience, shared through language and voice, where attention to subjectivity, power and discourse allows new storylines to emerge. These song lyrics are instantiations of narrative knowing generated from taking particular lines of flight through the data, theorising from individual narratives. Rhizomatic storylines do not present or reveal some idea of the real, but can be broken apart to show how we construct the real through removing the mythical unitary self, recognising instead the plurality of possible storylines that weave through the self as a storied life.
My aim in presenting song lyrics in this thesis is not to provide a stable outcome or generate generalisable research findings. My intention is to illuminate some of the multiple ways in which difference might be constructed, and through this process (re)think notions of literacies learning, musicking, and schooling as various subject positions taken up by young people through those discourses. I have mapped in this thesis some of the discursive fields that teenagers operate within, making use of a rhizomatic understanding of how discourses connect in multiple and transitory ways. I do not wish to trace these linkages and assemblages, but rather I have tried to map a particular possible pathway through these discursive plateaus. It is only one possible map. It is an intermezzo. There are endless alternatives that might have otherwise occurred, and as such, I present here a small number of particular rhizomatic storylines that are contingent and certainly not fixed in any search for validity, truth or the ‘real’. I do not wish to simply replace one regime of truth with another, for that would be counterproductive. I seek to trouble existing regimes of truth in the hope that by (re)imagining storied lives anew it becomes possible to work towards more socially just ways of understanding the complex project of becoming.