Lisa Loutzenheiser

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

anti-oppressive education
queer studies
curriculum theory
Youth Studies
curriculum policy
qualitative methodologies
Gender Studies
social inequality
sexuality education
alternative education
marginalized youth
Race Studies in Education
Mentorship in higher education
Faculty Development

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research Methodology

Data analysis
Youth Participatory

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Dr. Loutzenheiser is completely open and honest with me. She has many years of experience as a supervisor which bodes well for her students as we navigate our graduate programs! She's able to answer questions big and small and is an excellent academic and emotional guide, because let's face it, grad studies is an adventure. Thank you Lisa for everything that you do!

Anonymous (2017)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

"Keep it confusing": gender nonconforming youth resisting structures of legibility in a high school (2021)

Scholarship on the cisheteronormativity of schools predominantly focuses on risk discourses and the experiences of binary trans youth. In response, this dissertation uplifts the lives of specifically gender nonconforming youth who challenge and complicate narratives of binary gender. I spent a year moving alongside six gender nonconforming youth as they went to classes and activities, performed in plays and band concerts, passed time in the hallways, and navigated their daily lives in a high school. In our relationships, we invited capacious forms of gender, an expansiveness that often did not feel possible at school. While it is important to recognize the challenges these youth encountered, I am not interested in adding to scholarship that remains tethered to thinking through how hard it is to be gender nonconforming. Rather, this study underscores three forms of labour that youth engaged in while moving through their days to resist, ignore, and mitigate cisheteronormativity. First, youth worked to understand adults’ transphobia. Second, gender nonconforming youth laboured to make themselves legible (or not) within adults’ narrow conceptions of gender nonconformity. Finally, youth created both physical and fantastical escapes where they could exist in relation to their genders in ways that adults in the school either did not see or could not understand. Importantly, ideas about gender legibility have never been exclusively about gender. Therefore, an interlocking thread of this study is an interrogation of the broader normative landscape of East City High. Throughout this study I examine how cisheteronormativity is always already entangled in whiteness, settler colonialism, and ability. Gender nonconforming youths’ existence upends the naturalness of the categories and systems that schools rely upon to know students. Yet, gender is not a stable, categorizable entity; neither are gender nonconforming youth. Gender nonconforming youth live in productive incoherence: they are illegible, ambiguous, and fluid, and the intention of this dissertation is not to make them knowable. Researching, thinking, and writing alongside gender nonconforming youth necessitates inviting and honouring their incoherence. This dissertation moves with the youth as they work to trust and create space for their genders regardless of others’ refusal to see them.

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From Reena to Beti: A counterstory considering structural racism and limitations in feminist nonprofit organizations (2019)

Adding to a growing field of literature in critical race studies in education, and gender studies, this project looks to understand cracks in feminist nonprofit organizations, specifically as they relate to services offered for racialized and Indigenous girls and women. Using data from 15 interviews with racialized and Indigenous activists with experience in mainstream nonprofit feminist organizations on unceded Coast Salish territory in the Greater Vancouver area, I compile the activists’ experiences in a composite counterstory drawing upon critical race theory methodologies (Solorzano & Yosso, 2001, Solarzano & Yosso, 2002, Duncan, 2002, Cook & Dixson, 2012). Beti, the protagonist of the counterstory, reveals the many structural barriers that exist within these organizations. This includes: tokenized use of racialized and Indigenous bodies to hold strategic positions maintaining “diversity” projects or fulfilling well-intentioned organizational policies only to come up against longstanding institutional barriers committed to racist and colonial white settler structures. This research indicates that these organizations had and continue to have a longstanding history of maintaining the nonprofit industrial complex. Beti, as a racialized settler, centers Indigenous ways of knowing, such as critical place inquiry, to better understand her position on stolen territories and how activism on this land might impact her ability to effect change because of the very nature of racialized and gendered violence that persists within the changing landscape of the city of Vancouver. Finally, I look at the ways this research project is incomplete. Additional research is required to further understand the experiences of activists in organizations, barriers to access and systemic exclusion for racialized and Indigenous girls and women within institutions.

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Going along with trans, queer, and genderqueer youth: city movements and "worlding" knowledges (2019)

This dissertation explores the everyday experiences of trans, queer, and genderqueer (TQG) youth in New York City. As research with TQG youth often focuses on spectacular or remarkable moments in their lives—that is the moments, whether positive or negative, that easily catch one’s attention—this study examines the moments in youths’ lives that do not always standout, that are often overlooked, and are sometimes considered unworthy of being researched. Such a focus on the everyday, routine, and pedestrian experiences in TQG youths’ lives works to better understand how youth are coming to know themselves in relationship to the social worlds around them. Since this study understands knowledge about what and who “youth” are to be something that is always on the move, mobile methods are utilized to assist in examining how youth are producing knowledge about society and how society is producing knowledge about youth. The study engaged eleven (11) TQG youth in a series of “go-alongs”—mobile ethnographic interviews where participants moved and talked with the researcher as they went about their everyday routines. The go-alongs took place on sidewalks, public parks, libraries, public transit, and in various businesses. Some were transitory (moving between youths’ homes, schools, or works), some were activity based (running a specific errand), and others were stationary (passing time in public parks or libraries). The go-alongs allowed critical analytical attention to be paid to the ways TQG youth expressed knowledge about themselves and thesocial worlds through which the moved. This study suggests how more expansive ways of approaching, viewing, readings, and understanding TQG youth are needed in order to better appreciate that “youth” as a social category is not evenly applied to all social subjects of a similar age group. Rather, through paying close attention to what youth said, what they did, andhow they reacted to the worlds around them during the go-alongs, this study highlights how TQG demonstrate a variety of important understandings about how they take up space in, make homes out of, and finds way to thrive in the various social worlds they occupy.

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Becoming Sikh: Sikh youth identities and the multicultural imaginary (2018)

This dissertation explores the lives of second and third generation Sikh youth in the Greater Vancouver area in relation to the ways they think about their identities. As racialized youth growing up in a major Canadian urban center, being situated within an array of various ethnic, racial, religious, and gender differences plays an important role in how participants recognize what it means to be Sikh, and the potential to become differently. Particularly relevant in this study is an investigation into the ways competing discourses of multiculturalism both facilitates the way participants “do” their identities, and also shapes the ways Sikh youth come to (mis)recognize the multicultural “others”. Through small group and individual interviews, youth theorizing on the repetition, regulation and re-signification of identity categories is explored. Relying significantly on Judith Butler's theory of performativity, and Michel Foucault’s discussions of discourse, knowledge, and power, multiculturalism is taken up as an important societal discourse which requires racialized youth to perform their identities in everyday multicultural context such as schools. In other words, multiculturalism is theorized beyond policy and curriculum debates to investigate how youth “do multiculturalism” in different contexts through various embodied practices which constitute and regulate claims to a Sikh identity. Based on an analysis of interview transcripts with 25 self-identified Sikh youth (ages 13-25), it is argued that an important consequence of living in a “multicultural” society as understood by participants is the recognition of self and others through three frames of recognition. These “multicultural frames of recognition” include the ways Sikh youth come to recognize a discursive whiteness, discourses about racialized others, and discourses about other Sikh communities. It is argued that subjection through the discourses which structure these three “multicultural frames of recognition” contribute to participants’ understanding of the diverse racial, ethnic, religious, and gender identities in modern day Vancouver, while foreshadowing the constitution and constraints of the identification process for Sikh youth within the multicultural imaginary.

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Teaching empowerment? Gender, sexuality education and the contested pedagogical relations of knowing and being known with(in) an HIV prevention programme in South Africa (2015)

This dissertation is an exploration of the im/possibilities of knowing and being known with(in) sexuality education. The project was provoked by how sexuality education is framed as a global strategy to prevent the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among youth. In particular, the study aimed to problematize how sexuality education is positioned as a site for youth empowerment in relation to gendered identities and relations. Through feminist and poststructural readings of ethnographic research (Britzman, 2000; Lather, 2007; St. Pierre & Pillow, 2000; Youdell, 2010), this dissertation engages the pedagogical encounters of sexuality education. The pedagogical encounter (doubled through the research encounter) is theorized as a contested site in which educators and learners engage in the messy and always ongoing work of making sense of their lives with(in) place (Ellsworth, 1997, 2005; Massey, 2005).These encounters take form in South Africa, even as the relations explored within them resist a global/local binary of international guidelines, national programmes or local implementation. Within the contours of these encounters, educators from loveLife, a South African non-governmental organization, meet-up with youth in particular moments. Drawing on three opening propositions related to sexuality education as an always political project, this dissertation foregrounds an analytic shift from who youth are and what is known to how understandings of identities and forms of knowledge become coherent within particular pedagogical moments. This shift draws attention to how pedagogical approaches such as loveLife’s are entangled in power-laden understandings of social identities and a perceived (linear) relation to knowledge. In doing so, it destabilizes the claim that youth can be empowered through sexuality education. Within the problematic imperative to “do” sexuality education differently, already present struggles over identities and forms of knowledge point to the necessity of re-articulating what is claimed in and through sexuality education. This dissertation suggests an articulation of sexuality education in which the vulnerability of knowing and being known might become a condition for responsibility to one another and a site for social transformation.

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Producing pedagogy: exploring masculinities, femininities, and sexualityies in/through visual digital media (2014)

This dissertation explores the methodological, theoretical and pedagogical tensions of an eight-month ethnographic study within a Film classroom. Drawing on participant observation, group film discussions, and participant produced films, the chapters that follow consider the ways in which youth inhabit and make sense of masculinities/femininities and sexualities as conveyed in visual digital media, and how the very categories of youth, gender and media are constructed and disrupted in the process of video production—and through the process of research. This project challenges the notion that research captures ‘reality’ through meticulous data collection and analysis, and instead considers the way that ethnography produces the very materiality it attempts to represent (Britzman, 1995). Although methodologically encouraged by theories that promote “getting lost” (Lather, 2007), there were many moments in which modernist assumptions, institutional and discursive expectations, regulated the process of conducting and representing the research. Following a lineage of theorists who challenge the assumptions and expectations that burden empirical research (Britzman, 1995; Lather, 2006; Talburt, 2004; Youdell, 2005; 2006; 2009) and who trouble the notion of ‘what counts as data’ (Pitt & Britzman, 2003), the methodological tensions and theoretical incongruencies that arose through this project informed, and became, data. The articulation and analysis of these tensions, idiosyncrasies, and ‘failings’ as data, contributes to conversations about enacting troubling, and troubled research. Further to methodological failings, this project invites discussions of uncertainty, loss, and unknowability in order to provoke the pervasive ‘cultural myths’ of teacher (Britzman, 2003), and to contribute to larger theoretical discussions of pedagogy. Drawing on popular media and digital video production in/through/as pedagogy, this research considers the ways each might be reconceptualized. In particular, the ways in which popular media and digital video production practices invite the body and senses in/as pedagogy (Ellsworth, 2005). However, like the regulatory process of research, pervasive modernist discourses of teacher (Britzman, 2003), education (Popkewitz, 1997), knowledge, teaching and learning (Ellsworth, 2005) may restrict the pedagogical possibilities of popular media and digital video production within educational contexts. This regulatory parallel is indicative of the tangles of methodology and pedagogy amidst these chapters

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Teaching subjects : reading the phantasies and interruptions of becoming (2011)

Over the course of six months, a small group of teachers engaged in literary response groups to consider understandings of teacher identity and its relationship to curriculum as provoked by three novels. The theoretical underpinnings of this project have been heavily influenced and guided by the poststructural theoretical work of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault; the critical education theorizing of Deborah Britzman, Bronwyn Davies, Elizabeth Ellsworth; and the methodological messing of Patti Lather and Elizabeth St. Pierre. The project engages in the theorizing of being and becoming teacher and considers the complexities that constitute teacher identity and the interplay of teacher identity with curriculum. The specific questions of this inquiry include: In what ways do teachers understand the identity of “teacher” and what discourses are at work to construct not only the teacher, but the teacher’s understanding of teacher identity? Are there moments or discourses that interrupt the norms that influence teacher identity? What occurs within moments of tension and difficulty that might contribute to understanding teacher becoming, teacher relationship with curriculum, and teacher responsibility in education? The analysis engages in a consideration of the pressures of the discursive forces of subjection that play upon the subject, theorizing a phantasy of teacher identity. The phantasy of identity, an inner discourse of being, is helpful in understanding the psychical influences of the normative discourses on the subject and accounts for, in part, the desires, memories, and repressions of the teaching subject. The phantasy of identity, acts as a transitional object, a third space in which the desire of the phantasy becomes conscious, accounting for the excess of desire within the subjective forces. Moments of interruptions, in which teachers question their understandings of teacher identity, are critical places in the theorizing of teacher becoming. These moments are theorized as aporias, irreconcilable tensions, that are the brief opportunities in which the subject is offered a momentary glimpse in which to consider the resonances of the phantasy of identity, and the responsibility to the other.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Restorying the wounds of education: vulnerability, hope, and the (queer) child (2019)

In this thesis, I ask: How might the concepts of vulnerability, hope, and the child queerthinking about what education is and does, especially in relation to trauma? To bring thisquestion to life, I envision this project as a creative, improvisational ‘scene of constraint’ (Butler,2004b, p. 1 as cited in Farley, 2018, p. 19) that includes vignettes and literature that speak toeach concept. Bringing disorientation (Ahmed, 2006, 2010), queerness (Muñoz, 2009), and crueloptimism (Berlant, 2006, 2011) in conversation with these concepts, while gesturing towardspost qualitative inquiry (St. Pierre, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017a, 2017b), I use this work toexamine the question of how it is “that we become available to a transformation” of whateducation is and does, “a contestation which compels us to rethink ourselves, a reconfigurationof our ‘place’ and ‘ground’” (Butler, 1995, p. 132 as cited in St. Pierre, 2011, p. 614).As in my educative journey, this thesis dances with the vulnerability of ‘undoing andredoing’ what (I think) I know about trauma and hope, and what (I think) I wish to uncover tosupport children in the realm of education. My work remains haunted by the confusion of the‘posts’ (St. Pierre, 2011), the unknowability of the decolonial as a settler educator (Tuck andYang, 2012), and the “shock to thought” (Massumi, 2012 as cited in Jackson, 2017, p. 671) thatis an examination of losing children and youth at the site of education. Woven from a ‘brokenweb’ (Rich, 1981), this thesis restories trauma and restores vulnerability-as-strength, hope-as-radical-action, and the (queer)-child-as-guide, leaving space for the next steps that might allowus to take better care of ourselves, each other and the more-than-human world.

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