Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William F. Pinar


This dissertation describes extensions of post-structuralism in contemporary curriculum discourses. Post-structuralist thought is mainly associated with the seminal work of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Michel Serres. Post-structural criticism and analysis challenge prevailing structuralist approaches and question the fundamental assumptions upon which these approaches rest. A key assumption of structural approaches is that all phenomena are constituted by an underlying structure. In curriculum, these structural assumptions (often scientific) remain unacknowledged and thus are immunized against criticism; rather, they are incorporated into the preferred structural analyses, interpretations, and organizations promoted by the promise of order and rationality. The notion of "rationality"--scientific in essence--has been the dominating force of curricular "planning." The problem is not that reason has turned into domination, but that we do not fully recognize its domination. Chapter One and Chapter Two portray historical formations of post-structuralism in order to identify specific threads or themes which lay a basis for understanding post-structuralist elements of contemporary curriculum theory. The author investigates the extensions (in Chapters Three and Four) of post-structuralism in current curriculum theorizing. Working from concepts of "subject," "history," and "differences" identified in major works by Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard, and Serres, this study identifies those concepts of these scholars that surface in contemporary curriculum discourses. This study explores the works of eight curriculum theorists now drawing on contemporary post-structuralist thought. This focus will not only give rise to reexamining the questions and problematics of curriculum, but will also put forward a post-structural framework for curriculum inquiry, which might provide a rethinking and reexamining of curriculum discourses. A final purpose of this study is to link aspects of Eastern Taoism and Zen philosophy with post-structuralist thought which will provide curriculum theorists with an intercultural understanding of "the play of unrecuperable differences" and irresolvable paradoxes. The notion of "Tao" and Zen may provide a useful counterweight to Western logocentric thought and the metaphysics of presence. In addition, the connection (passage) between Taoist and post-structuralist thought may serve to illuminate the questioning post-structuralism posits. Curriculum as post-structuralist text may vitalize the curriculum field itself.