Dr. Harper B. Keenan is the Robert Quartermain Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality Research in Education at the University of British Columbia. Before coming to UBC in 2019, Dr. Keenan was a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, where he also earned his PhD in Curriculum and Teacher Education in 2019. Dr. Keenan completed his undergraduate studies at The New School in New York City, and earned a Master’s Degree from the Bank Street College of Education. He is a proud former New York City elementary school teacher.
Broadly, Dr. Keenan’s research analyzes how adults teach children to make sense of the social world. Much of his work investigates the management, or scripting, of children’s knowledge, and ways that educators and their students might work together to interrupt that process and imagine something different. Dr. Keenan is interested in those social issues that many adults find difficult to talk about with children – things like racism, gender, sexuality, and violence. He is perhaps best known for his 2017 article in the Harvard Educational Review, “Unscripting Curriculum: Toward a Critical Trans Pedagogy.”
Today, Dr. Keenan’s research projects center around two themes: 1.) the interaction of colonialism, race, and gender in schools – particularly in early childhood and elementary education, and 2.) the continued development of anti-racist queer and trans pedagogies.
Dr. Keenan’s work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals and popular press outlets, including the Harvard Educational Review, Teacher’s College Record, Gender and Education, Theory & Research in Social Education, Slate, The Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and multiple edited volumes.
Refereed Conference Papers and Presentations
“Reassessments of power, ideologies, and praxis: Toward a more critical elementary social education.” American Educational Research Association, Toronto, ON, April 2019.
“Will the truth set us free?: Queer, trans, and youth of color challenging essentialism.” American Educational Research Association, Toronto, ON, April 2019.
“Disrupting masculinities.” American Educational Studies Association, Greenville, SC, November 2018.
“Beyond risk, resilience, and recognition: The making of the trans youth subject.” American Educational Studies Association. Greenville, SC, November 2018.
“Trans and non-binary educators: Making a place for ourselves at school.” Teachers for Social Justice Conference. San Francisco, CA, October 2018.
“Ecosystems of support: How local contexts impact the development of transgender-affirming school policies and practices.” American Educational Research Association. New York, NY, April 2018.
“What does it mean to be recognized?: Theorizing the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming young people.” American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. New York, NY, April 2018
“Policies and practices affirming transgender and gender-creative students: Cases from Australia, Canada, and the US.” American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, April 2017.
“Confronting racism in teacher education: Building for transformation.” American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX, April 2017.
“Developing questioning kids: Connecting social studies and social justice in elementary school.” Free Minds, Free People: National Social Justice Education Conference. Oakland, CA, July 2016.
“Reading and writing for a purpose: Reconnecting literacy and social studies for social justice.” National Conference of Teachers of English. Boston, MA, November 2013.
“Whose story is it? Teaching young children about colonization in the spirit of resistance.” Free Minds, Free People: National Social Justice Education Conference. Chicago, IL, July 2013.
Invited Lectures, Panels, and Presentations
“Without Definition: Trans Knowledge, Political Education, and the Practice of Teaching.” Teaching for Equity Series, Stanford University Teacher Education Program. Stanford, CA, October 2019.
“Drag Pedagogy: Queer Imagination at School.” Co-presented with Taica Hsu. Hollyhock Education Conference, Stanford University. Stanford, CA, July 2019.
“Without Definition: Trans Knowledge, Political Education, and the Practice of Teaching.” Oakland Museum of California. Oakland, CA, June 2019.
“Without Definition: Trans Knowledge, Political Education, and the Practice of Teaching.” Keynote address. University of Pennsylvania, Transgender Day of Visibility. Philadelphia, PA, April 2019.
“Without Definition: Trans Knowledge, Political Education, and the Practice of Teaching.” American Educational Research Association, Division K sponsored panel on Queering Teacher Education. Toronto, Ontario, April 2019.
“Critical Trans Pedagogy.” Presentation at the People’s Education Conference. California State University – Fullerton. Fullerton, CA, February 2019.
“Whiteness in Teacher Education.” Panelist at the People’s Education Conference. California State University –Fullerton. Fullerton, CA, February 2019.
“The Mission Project: Teaching History and Avoiding the Past in California Elementary Schools.” Presentation at Theory & Data in Education Conference. University of Vienna, Austria, September 2018.
“The Mission Project: Teaching History and Avoiding the Past in California Elementary Schools.” Statewide webinar for California History & Social Science Project, September 2018.
“Critical Trans Pedagogy & Building Classroom Communities.” Presentation at Stanford Vice Provost of Graduate Education Graduate Summer Institute, September 2018.
“Research and Responsibility: LGBTQ Themes in 2018.” Panelist at symposium at New York University, April 2018.
“The Mission Project: Teaching History and Avoiding the Past in California Elementary Schools.” The
New School, April 2018.
PEER REVIEWED JOURNALS
Keenan, H.B. (2019). Selective memory: California mission history and the problem of historical violence in elementary school textbooks. Teachers College Record, 121(8). Advanced online publication: https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=22726
Keenan, H.B. (2019). Visiting Chutchui: The making of a colonial counterstory on an elementary school field trip. Theory & Research in Social Education, 47(1), 52-75.
Meyer, E.J. & Keenan, H.B. (2018). Can policies help schools affirm gender diversity? A policy archaeology of transgender-inclusive policies in California schools. Gender and Education, 30(6), 736-753.
Keenan, H.B. (2017). Unscripting curriculum: Toward a critical trans pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 87(4), 538-556.
Keenan, H.B. & Krishnan, M. (In Press). Our Many Selves. Chapter 1 in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (2nd Ed.). Oxford University Press.
Keenan, H.B. (2018). Sweetening the past: Selling heritage at Knott’s Berry Farm. In Gross, M.H. & Terra, L. (Eds.), Teaching and Learning the Difficult Past: Comparative Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
Keenan, H.B. (2017). Khaki drag: Race, gender, and the performance of professionalism in teacher education. In Picower, B. & Kohli, R. (Eds.), Confronting Racism in Teacher Education. New York: Routledge.