This project is a palimpsest of resonances and recollections springing from my core questioning around how young adolescent girls see themselves in the future and how the experience of elective subject selection in the middle years of schooling plays into their imaginings. The journeying I take runs along rhizomatic intensities inspired by the writing of Gilles Deleuze (1990, 1993, 2002) and Deleuze with his co-writer Félix Guattari (1986, 1987). Their work, and also the poetic writing of Hélène Cixous (1993, 1997, 2010a), has provoked me towards understandings of re-presentation in educational research and has encouraged me to experiment with ways I can re-present my re-presentations differently.
Involving the data-stories of thirteen girls who were interviewed and invited to complete drawings on two, three or four occasions between their second and final years of high school and first year out of school, the project takes up Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) notions of ‘becoming’ from students attending two very different Australian non-government schools. The first is ‘Wilton College’, an economically and socially privileged girls’ school which aims to propel students to university. The second is ‘Australis School’, a co-educational, performing arts school which offers regular school matriculation as well as semi-professional performing arts training. I explore ways Deleuzo-Guattarian notions of becomings, rhizomes and lines of flight are brought into language in these contexts so as to allow me to engage, more insightfully, with the students as they tell stories about who (and how) they see themselves becoming in the future.
A line of flight stemming from my own becoming-researcher, a notion I reference as becoming-my-self-researcher, is another line I explore; one triggered by my experience of writing a - but more emphatically this - thesis. The trembling rhizomatic lines of thesis writing contribute significantly to my interest in re-thinking the (this) thesis text through an entanglement in the messiness of research as I seize the opportunity to consider my own language an example of minor literature (Bogue, 1997; Deleuze & Guattari, 1986); a generative, generous and productive space of play.
The texts traversing the space of this thesis include pictures the girls drew of themselves in the future; artworks by Australian women artists I first learnt about during my own high school years and to which I now re-respond; poetry I have constructed from interview transcripts and poetry which bursts from the thesis; memories of my own becoming which come flooding back; and an imaginary playscript through which a discussion on my thesis takes place. Alongside these texts is a style of writing concerned with experimenting with and experiencing the ‘and, and, and’ so often a part of Deleuzo-Guattarian studies. My writing comes from spaces where multiple readings are part of the ‘and, and, and’ data-scape and where my positionality as researcher is folded into a craftwork of fabric, stitches and pockets. The new surfaces to which I adhere, and which adhere to me (such as poetry-writer, such as image-reader), move into fluidity as my seasonal need for garments change. For example, as realised in Lines throughout this work, my literature collection, far from being a fixed and striated archival document, my literature moves me towards investigations into poetic writing, ballet and embodiment which are already suggesting new beginnings.
This, then, is a thesis of multiples with thread-lines interlacing its different parts (sections) and stitching which tightens or relaxes allowing different notions, or undersides, to show. And, at times, as with tangles of threads, it can get messy. The central metaphors of folding, pockets, sewing, stitching, knitting, patchworking, quilting, creasing and weaving offer this thesis its ‘many interlacings [and] mixes’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 476); its colour, texture, embellishment and form.
The thesis concludes as it opens, amidst the Deleuzo-Guattarian process of becoming, in spaces seeking to produce no particular finished item. ‘What is real’, Deleuze and Guattari (1987, p. 238) write, ‘is the becoming itself’ which helps to make sense of both the stories of the girls in my study and my own evolving becoming-my-self-researcher. Margaret Atwood (1998, p. 298), author of the novel Alias Grace, offers a beginning of sorts when she writes, ‘It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone’, which offers a provocative place to be - and to begin.