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Grammatology: Reading the Child. Reading: Ulmer, G. (1985), ‘The Scene of Teaching’ in Applied Grammatology London, John Hopkins University Press ‘…the classroom as a place of invention rather than of reproduction …’ (163-164). Assignment 2 - (2,500 word essay):

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grammatology reading the child
Grammatology: Reading the Child

Reading: Ulmer, G. (1985), ‘The Scene of Teaching’ in Applied Grammatology London, John Hopkins University Press

‘…the classroom as a place of invention rather than of reproduction…’ (163-164)


Assignment 2 - (2,500 word essay):

  • Use the grammatological tools provided in week 6 to help show how either Swift, Blake or Rousseau (choose one) present the child or childhood in their texts.
  • DUE on Tuesday, week 13.
  • [how can your chosen text be grammatologically taught]
  • ‘My purpose in this chapter is to open the question of the nature of educational presentation (the manner of the transmission of ideas) adequate to a poststructuralist epistemology and to air some of the rhetorical and polemical notions relevant to a pedagogy of general writing.’ (157)
  • Poststructuralist = theory involving implicit critique of all absolutes
  • Epistemology = a theory of knowledge
  • Rhetorical = considered communicative discourse
  • Polemical = loaded communicative discourse
  • Pedagogy = a theory of teaching
  • General writing = lived experience as the experience of signs
teaching philosophically
Teaching Philosophically
  • ‘One of the principle goals of the Group for Philosophic Teaching [GREPH]…is to extend the teaching of philosophy to earlier levels of schooling. The chief problem for such an undertaking is to find ways to teach philosophy “philosophically” to young people.’ (160)
  • ‘It is not surprising that a pedagogy committed to change rather than to reproduction would seize upon the irreducibility of the medium to the message (apropos of education as a form of communication) as the point of departure for its program (to be discussed further in terms of the pedagogical mise en scene). (162)
the age of hegel
The Age of Hegel
  • ‘Derrida’s analysis of the place of pedagogy in Western thought is a corollary of his analysis of writing in general. Everything he say about the bias against writing in logocentrism applied as well to pedagogy, understood as a representation and communication that models itself after the Book.’ (163)
  • ‘Derrida and his colleagues assume that the state fears philosophy because it motivates the individual to want to change the established system. But for Hegel, it is not philosophy but simply one’s youth that prompts rebellion against the state: [read quote from pg. 165]. (165)
  • ‘The teacher’s role in the Hegelian system is that of model and authority, a concrete embodiment of the ideal self with which the student must identify) from Socrates to Freud and beyond, transference is an important element in the pedagogic effect). (166)
  • Also: a) student as ‘intent observer’ and imitatorb) only instructed via language (not other signs) c) the ultimate goal is the ‘subordination of sensation and perception to thought, resulting in a capacity for true observation’ (166)
what grammatology is not
What grammatology is not…
  • ‘Is it possible to imagine an education in which this dialogue and its valorization of “living memory” would not be the ideal? What might be the ideal of an educated person proposed by a post-structuralism that puts in question the very notion of truth, in which the claims of truth to objectivity and neutrality are exposed as effects of an apparatus of power? It would be a mistake to try to answer this question prematurely. Nor is my introduction to applied grammatology anything more than a gathering of some of the elements that may c0ntribute to the phrasing of the question. But what has been cited as the Hegelian model of education gives an idea of what the new model will not be.’ (168)
against reproduction
Against Reproduction
  • ‘To appreciate the deconstructive strategy adopted by Derrida – its practical value in the context of education – it is helpful to review a current assessment of the educational institution within which grammatology must operate. The essential point of modern social analyses of education is that education is a device of power and control whose chief purpose is to reproduce the dominant values of society and legitimize the authority of the state (finally, of the class structure). The difference between current assessments and nineteenth-century views like those summarized above is that the association of education with state power and its advocacy of the ideals of universalism and nationalism are now perceived as problems rather than as objectives. In this vein, for example, Foucault discusses the relationship between the functions of the educational and the penal systems.’ (169)
against reproduction1
Against Reproduction
  • ‘According to [Bourdieu and Passeron], pedagogic action is by definition authoritative; it is in its very nature a kind of symbolic violence. Therefore, all nonrepressive educational theories from Rousseau through Freud (to Reich and Marcuse) are finally utopian and are violent in their very illusion of being nonviolent. The conclusion that all such utopian pedagogies eventually self-destruct (being self-contradictory) would seem to be verified by the failure of nonrepressive experiments in many universities in the wake of the student protest movement.’ (169)
  • ‘In Bourdieu and Passeron’s view, then, professorial discourse – the literate mastery of the word – prevents learning, alienates the students, and condemns the teacher to “theoretical monologue and virtuoso exhibition” even while maintaining the fiction or farce of dialogue. Pedagogical discourse has become a hieroglyph in the worst sense – that of the mystified and festishized symbol prior to the epistemic break of the historical grammatologists. (172)
theater the scene of teaching
Theater / The scene of teaching
  • ‘Poststructuralism tends to share Bourdieu and Passeron’s analysis of pedagogic communication but not their pessimism about the inevitability of the siutation. There is agreement that the most significant aspect of pedagogic communication is finally not the message but the “medium,” understood in the largest sense as the scene of teaching in the environment of the university. (172)
  • ‘The model of discipleship encouraged under the Hegelian system – the identification with and reproduction of the master’s style (now understood as the gesture of a singular body rather than as a representation of universal ideas) – finally undermines the critical goals of the philosophical message, since the least thoughtful relationship to knowledge is discipleship. The new pedagogy, then, must attempt to do away with the undesirable pedagogical effect of discipleship precisely because it generates disciplines and authorities.’ (173)
  • ‘Artaud’s theater of cruelty interests Derrida because it “announces the very limits of representation”: it is theater that is not representation but “life itself.”
  • Especially important in this context is Artaud’s emphasis on the mise en scene at the expense of verbal discourse.’ (174)
mise en scene
Mise en Scene
  • ‘The essential feature of Artaud’s theory relevant to pedagogy is the demotion of speech, reversing the history of theater in the West, which has used mise en scene (and all aspects of staging and spectacle) merely to illustrate the verbal discourse (just as writing has been categorized as merely the representation of speech).’ (175)
  • The scene of teaching is not about getting rid of representation but allowing it to be:
  • Transformed/Transduced (changed from one thing to another)
  • Deconstructed (its originary prejudices unravelled )
  • Originarilly translated (translation particular to the particular context of teaching)
  • ‘Like speech…truth is not excluded but is put in its place, inscribed in a more general system whose principle is the quotation mark. Knowledge mimed is science in quotation marks, no longer insight, but in citation.’ (177)
  • Texts are ‘closed and open at once [in] that they both involve a double writing – one that refers only to itself, and one that refers indefinitely to other texts. The structure of this combination is the graft (collage), whose principal effect, as a heterogenous entity, is the problematization of all referentiality and all inside/outside oppositions. The effect of a double scene with undecidable reference is to escape categorizations of truth which historically have restricted the notion of mimesis. If the text imitates nothing, it cannot be measured in terms of adequation. Nor is it a present unveiling of the “thing itself” in the “here and now.”’ (178)
  • ‘Given that grammatological presentations are neither reproductions of reality nor revelations of the real, it is clear that grammatology involves a displacement of educational transmissions from the domain of truth to that of invention.’ (179)
  • ‘My argument is that what we are meant to discern (able to discern) when nothing takes place but the place is precisely the places and commonplaces (based on an analogy with commonplace books, although we have other ways to generate materials now, such as computers and all our hypomnemic technology) to be utilized for invention.
  • A major challenge to the teaching performance in a classroom space conceived of as a metaphor of inventio is how to show the places taking place.’ (180)
  • Read from pg. 181 onwards.
  • ‘The most important aspect of sovereignty for pedagogy is that it inscribes knowledge in a space that science cannot master or dominate and that defies reproduction, thus reversing the usual order and direction of knowledge gathering.’ (185)
  • ‘Sovereignty, in other words, is another way to express the situation of the subject of knolwedge-unknowledge as the will to knowledge, the desire to know that we forget about but that enframes the information we gather. The idea in a grammatological classroom is treated in terms of Freud’s notion of “boundary ideas” - conscious ego and traumatic memory at once. The purpose of Derrida’s double science is to learn to analyze other texts and to write one’s own, with regard to both bands, to work both scenes at once.’ (186)
  • Read from pg.187…