This week was spent mostly moving through Bayne’s “Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies” in my posts for the WordPress blog as well as Edwards’ The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults”, but more in a way that informs rather than overtly draws from. Both proved interesting in terms of repositioning pedagogy in a posthuman context.
The WordPress posts themselves dealt mostly with aspects of Academetron in that pursuit of the uncanny as a vehicle for learning. This builds quite a bit on Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003), “Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge” in the idea that crossing boundaries represents a real opportunity for learning. This pursuit of troublesome knowledge, learning that aggressively removes our sense of familiarity with the learning itself, poses a real opportunity for higher education. Higher education is often a conglomerate of disciplinary silos (not Edinburgh, of course) and these silos define space, relationships, language, and knowledge itself. A posthuman pedagogy, one that specifically embraces ephemeral connections and elusive boundaries, defies these silos and makes association across disciplines and spaces as it sees fit.
So we are left with the pursuit of affect, which essentially is what the uncanny, disquiet, unfamiliar landscapes of online learning produces. It is visceral and violent to some degree, emotive surely, a knowledge formed from rapid associations of people and content. It is the harbinger of a “newness” that speaks to learning online. A pedagogy might do worse than looking to affective elements as a gauge of learning.
In my posthuman pedagogy example, I chose to look at the combination of media as a vehicle for producing affect. These different forms of video produce “little war machines” that bring about a sense of “newness” in knowledge. This was illustrated, rather rudimentarily, in my posthuman example through the work of James Joyce and Ulysses, that swirling miasma of sight, sound, and smell, of both material and psychical realities. This built on some of the posts I did this week pointing the psychical relationship I, as a student, have to the University of Edinburgh. A symbol divorced from a material meaning, it acts as a beacon of esteemed learning perhaps. It is murky, but I am drawn to it like a pilgrim to a holy site. It illuminates my way through these uncanny online spaces.
Speaking of uncanny, did anyone think this is what James Joyce sounded like? The audio is an old recording he did of some of his works.
Michael, I’ve been really enjoying your Joyce postings, here and in your prezi, and I think the connection you have made between Joyce’s re-working of all the rules of narrative, and the online re-working of the ‘rules’ of teaching is impressive. In terms of affect, too, your ideas are terrific – played out too in much of what you include in the prezi – that youtube link you sourced of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy genuinely brought a tear to the eye.
Your prezi worked really well with the notion of boundary play, montage, strange connections and slipping boundaries. You made me think of an article by Cathering Manathunga on ‘unhomeliness’, liminality, play and transgression – we don’t seem to have access to this, annoyingly, but you may well be able to track it down:
“Unhomely” Academic Developer Identities: More post-colonial explorations
International Journal for Academic Development, 1470-1324, Volume 12, Issue 1, 2007, Pages 25 – 34
Thanks for the link, Sian. Was able to find it through my wife’s university (we are all all students in this family).
And the Molly Bloom soliloquy is simply my favorite piece of writing in the English language. It is sensemaking to the extreme, a whirl of everything Molly thinks, believes, contradicts, everything. I remember the first time I read that as a young(ish) lad and I was stunned when I put down the book. It still gives me chills. Molly, and I hesitated to use the term in the Prezi, “retreats” a bit from the frustration and the pace of the present into sentimentality as she recounts Leopold proposing to her. That steadily increasing heartbeat pulse of “Yes” appearing again and again, an affirmation.
It is so experimental, so wildly innovative, that we sometimes overlook the real, tangible human core, the core that brings chills to the spine and tears to the eyes. It produces affect, an intellectual, emotional, psychological affect. I can’t think of a better example of a posthuman parallel for literature at least.
All this redefinition of the “rules” of narrative and learning and teaching, all this flaneuring around Dublin (Leopold is a bit of a flaneur) through the cycles of life (a wake, lunch, work, gossip, drink, camaraderie) leave us much like Molly Bloom. Half asleep late at night cycling through her consciousness and making some sense of it all. Just brilliant.
Excellent piece on posthuman pedagogy, I really enjoyed this Michael, as always.
I too am a fan of the text, and it is great to listen to Joyce’s voice. I’ve never attended Bloomsday, but would like to one day, I am a sucker for a good tweed…
The discussion of affect is very apt. For me the significance of Deleuze’s use of affect is related to his negation of subjectivity, which for me is directly related to the cyborg and posthuman themes. Affect is a way of dealing with sensation, not as experienced by a subjective being, but as a resonance between things (humans and non-humans), across time. The videos and images evoke this really well. I am reminded of Edward’s (2010) call for ‘response’ as opposed to ‘explanation’, and this definitely resonates with the style of the text, and your treatment of it. Superb.
Thanks, Jeremy. That is a good point about Deleuze and affect as a negation for subjectivity, as a resonance across time. That is good to bear in mind as I proceed through my final project as I am appropriating a bit of this for my final project. I also enjoy this response as opposed to explanation as that indeed is a significant distinction.
As for Bloomsday, I have done it once in a non-Dublin location, which seemed off, but I suppose appropriate. For our honeymo0on, my wife and I had just returned from a long stint in Korea and so we decided to each choose a place in Europe. I immediately chose Dublin and she, Venice. She kept asking me why I was dragging here to these weird, seemingly mundane, locations. Little did she know that I was reliving every moment of that book. Never made it out to the Tower, though.
I find Joyce’s own voice to be a good example of the uncanny. The first time I heard it, I was baffled as to the timber of his voice, so delicate, lyrical. I don’t know what I was expecting but that certainly wasn’t it.