Intimate Pedagogy: The Practice of Embodiment in University Classrooms

1 Assuming Gender 62-77 (Issue 2, 2010)

UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1754015

18 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2011 Last revised: 21 Oct 2013

See all articles by Katie Rose Guest Pryal

Katie Rose Guest Pryal

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2010


In this article, I examine the intimacy of university classrooms, especially in the context of gender, sex, and sexuality. I suggest that students and professors constantly battle the intimacy that arises in pedagogical relationships. Despite our best efforts, these moments of intimacy intrude upon students' relationships with one another and professors' relationships with students. These intrusions are often unexpected and uncontrollable, and are inextricably tied to gender and sexuality. These moments when the facade breaks down, moments of embodiment, are when the greatest teaching can occur. In order to be great professors, we must attain a level of intimacy with our students. Intimacy, for the purposes of this article, means simply this: setting aside an assumed genderless, sexless professorial facade, and standing beside our students, embodied. In this article I build upon the work of pedagogical theorist Jonathan Alexander, putting forward the idea of a 'rhetoric of the body' to help understand the ways professorial bodies perform in the classroom. I then turn to the work of theorists bell hooks and Jane Gallop and their work on eros in the classroom, to discover connections between what I call embodiment – moments when professors lose the facade of a bodiless identity – eros, and pedagogy. Lastly, I take these ideas and examine a course in which I taught the U.S. Supreme Court opinion Lawrence v. Texas (2003), in which the Court declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. In this course, content, pedagogy, intimacy, and embodiment came together in a practical demonstration of the theories I put forward here.

Keywords: pedagogy, speech acts, performativity, embodiment, intimacy, eros, teaching, sexuality

Suggested Citation

Pryal, Katie Rose Guest, Intimate Pedagogy: The Practice of Embodiment in University Classrooms (November 1, 2010). 1 Assuming Gender 62-77 (Issue 2, 2010), UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1754015, Available at SSRN:

Katie Rose Guest Pryal (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-2558 (Phone)


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics