SEAE Seminar Series: 4 May 2022. Enabling constraints for angel-in-the-making

Dr Melissa Wolfe, Senior Lecturer, Southern Cross University


The filmic conversation created through this post-qualitative study illustrate how schooling events play a central role in noiselessly (re)producing systemic misogyny and racism within everyday affective encounters. This study draws on karen barad’s concept of ethico-onto-epistemology by focusing on an ethics of relations that emerge within the specific social-material encounter and is read with brian massumi’s notion of enabling constraint, as a diffractive creation within the recounted events.

I focus here on mapping one exemplar girl student’s recount of her negotiation of the enabling constraints within pedagogical events, in situ. Her experiences are simultaneously agonistic and joyous and illustrate an affective undergoing of schooling processes. I map her navigation toward a seemingly affirming future.

This mapping highlights the importance of affective experiences within the ecology of classrooms and has consequences for students' ‘choosing’ subjects that frame them as a successful schoolgirl subject. Each pedagogical encounter discussed is considered as a unique, but connected event, making visible the differential potentials of capacity for affecting and being affected, enabling or disabling bodily action and growth with students that have consequences for matter and mattering. The cartography produced is not intended to form a prescriptive model for educationalists to follow but is intended to open up scrutiny of the consequences of affects that are in play for differentiated students as they negotiate school processes. I speculate how educationalists might enable a reimagining of numbing shame (non-belonging) as interest(ing) with the students themselves through recognizing enabling constraints existing in the classroom. I ask how can students and educators find comfort in their own discomfort as they emerge in events that may pose a threat to their identities, in order to metamorphose negative affect into a positive affirmation? Students emerge in situ and sculpt a performance of named (and apparently desirable) normative student behaviours within a contextual affective field. The field may be constrained but i ask how students can be enabled and shift these a making-of.


Melissa Wolfe is an educator with 20 years experience in the Australian public and private secondary education sector. She is also a photographer and film-maker. Melissa currently is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Methods, Media and Visual Arts education at Southern Cross University, Australia. Her research encompass a filmic synthesis of aesthetics, affect, gender, creative and public pedagogies.

Video recording of this seminar

The Sustainability, Environment, the Arts and Education (SEAE) Research Cluster is globally recognised for enacting profound change in/through transdisciplinary environmental and Arts education research that disrupts and generates new ways of being and becoming, which provokes dynamic responses to critical local-global calamities.


Melissa Wolfe

Date and time

From: 04:00 PM Wednesday, May 4, 2022 Wednesday, May 4, 2022 4:00 PM - QLD time To: 05:00 PM Wednesday, May 4, 2022 Wednesday, May 4, 2022 5:00 PM - QLD time