Dennis Sumara

Dennis Sumara
The University of Calgary | HBI · Werklund School of Education

Doctor of Philosophy

About

69
Publications
16,502
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3,015
Citations

Publications

Publications (69)
Article
Full-text available
This article uses a queer narrative hermeneutic approach to interpret higher education leadership experiences of not passing. Developed through biographical narrative depictions of personal and professional experiences informed by theoretical studies of curriculum and learning and queer cultures and histories, the article distinguishes among differ...
Article
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The authors of this article use data produced in a collaborative community arts group in BC Canada as a way to think about validation in arts-based educational research (ABER). As Lather attempted to find middle ground between ‘rampant subjectivity’ and ‘pointless precision’ in research, she (1986) suggested that studies with an ideological or crit...
Chapter
This paper presents findings from a series of creative writing seminars we developed for young men incarcerated in a Canadian medium-security federal penitentiary. The impetus for the project was twofold: to provide literary arts programming for a marginalized population and to explore how the act of writing short fiction, through its emphasis on c...
Article
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This article reports on a federally funded research project in which old lesbians were invited to separate out and examine the complicated strands of lives lived through times of great social change-times in which notions of "woman," "sexuality," and "subjectivity" have been both over- and under-determined by dominant discourse (Stein, 1997). We ar...
Book
This book explores the contributions, actual and potential, of complexity thinking to educational research and practice. While its focus is on the theoretical premises and the methodology, not specific applications, the aim is pragmatic--to present complexity thinking as an important and appropriate attitude for educators and educational researcher...
Article
We report on a study of three school jurisdictions in the province of Alberta. The original premise for the research on which this report is based was to investigate the diverse ways that school districts had administered resources that were provided through a major initiative to improve learning in the province. This account is not centrally conce...
Article
Oriented by complexity thinking and informed by a selection of “game-changing” research findings in the educational literature, we describe a set of innovations to a teacher education program. These innovations include broad awareness of theories of learning, specialization across levels, integration of pre-service and in-service offerings, a devel...
Article
In this paper, the authors investigate the enduring power of voice as a concept in writing pedagogy. They argue that one can benefit from considering Elbow’s assertion that both text and voice be considered as important aspects of written discourse. In particular, voice is a powerful metaphor for the material, social and historical nature of langua...
Article
In this article, the author playfully represents his role as reader and interpreter of an article sent to him for review by editors of the journal Educational Action Research. By representing the specificity of his reader responses, the author shows how literacy practices function to create the identities of readers and writers. It is argued that a...
Article
In this paper, we offer a non-typical snapshot of interaction from the field of Reality TV fandom to explore new ways of conceiving the relationship between empathic response, ethical awareness and emergent possibilities for learning as conditioned by online participatory cultures. We provide a limit-case analysis of an instance of situated ethical...
Chapter
Brent Davis is professor and David Robitaille chair in mathematics, science, and technology education at the University of British Columbia. His research is developed around the educational relevance of recent developments in the cognitive and complexity sciences, and he teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in curriculum studies,...
Article
For a number of years, Rebecca Luce‐Kapler and Dennis Sumara have been investigating the ways in which literary practices of close reading can help change how we think and how we remember. They have also considered how such practices might help make us more critical of normative representations of remembered experience. More recently, they have bee...
Article
Historically, the logico-rational mode of argumentation co-evolved with particular mathematical systems and particular geometrically-informed manners of interpreting experience and perception. We examine some of the ways these geometries continue to shape the sensibilities, practices and structures of much of curriculum discourse, in spite of the w...
Article
In this speculative essay, we explore some of the implications and possibilities of complexity thinking for formal education. We begin by developing the working definition that complexity research is the study of learning systems. Drawing on hard (rigorously empirical) complexity research, we critique some of the untenable assumptions and construct...
Chapter
What is Consciousness and What Does it ‘Feel Like’?Literary Experience and the Creating of ConsciousnessConsciousness, Literary Experience and EducationNoteReferences
Article
Full-text available
Educational research, as a domain of academic inquiry, is a relatively young field. Most of its major journals have been established since the 1960s, and only a few of them were in place a century ago. University-based colleges and faculties of education are similarly recent. Very few have been around for more than a half-century. For the most part...
Article
In this paper, we point to an infamous example of cyber bullying (the "Star Wars Kid") to frame a consideration of the sort of situated ethics needed to mediate relationships in a seemingly infinitely and complexly connected communicative cyber world. We argue curriculum that educates for "ethical know-how" aims to provide students with meaningful...
Article
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In this essay, the authors describe human consciousness as an embodied experience that emerges from a complex relationship of the biological and the phenomenological. Following arguments made by Lodge (2002) and Donald (2001), they argue that one primary way that human beings develop self-awareness of their own minds is by becoming aware of other m...
Article
This article offers a theory of identity that explicates how biological, experiential, and contextual influences contribute to the ongoing development of the human sense of self–what I describe as an ecological understanding of identity. My primary goal in developing this argument is not so much to create certainty about what it means to occupy a s...
Article
This writing is structured around the question, "What is teaching?" Drawing on complexity science, we first seek to demonstrate the tremendously conflicted character of contemporary discussions of teaching. Then we offer two examples of teaching that we use to illustrate the assertion that what teaching is can never be reduced to or understood in t...
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This article seeks to interrogate conceptions of cognition and knowledge, explicit and implicit, that underpin conventional projects of educational research. Developed around our own efforts to make sense of the contingent and complex nature of a recent action research project, the discussion develops an enactivist account of cognition that is offe...
Article
This paper describes a theory of curriculum co‐emergence by which the various components of curriculum action (e.g. students, teachers, texts and processes) are understood to exist in a dynamic and mutually specifying relationship. Drawn from studies in biology, ecology, cognition, phenomenology and contemporary philosophical hermeneutics, this the...
Article
In this essay, the authors present analyses of data emerging from a study of a classroom of pre‐service English language arts teachers' readings of a young adult novel that challenged normative sexuality stereotypes. They argue that when literary fictions are included within teacher education ‘methods’ courses, the possibility that literature might...
Article
The publication in 2002 of Richard Florida's best-selling book, The rise of the creative class (Florida, 2002) could well be seen to mark the full-blown arrival in the public consciousness of a redefinition of the term "creative", that had been going on for well over a decade previously. Creativity, for most people, had previously been largely some...
Article
The reader’s theatre text that follows is a written text documenting and representing as public culture experiences of ‘insidious trauma’ that most often languish in private lives and emotions. We are indebted to the work of Cvetkovich (2003) on ‘insidious trauma’ and Boler (1999) on the presence/absence of emotion in producing our public ‘archive....
Article
In this article, the authors extend Phelps & Hase's (2002) explorations of the theoretical and methodological connections of complexity theory and action research by emphasizing complexity science as the study of learning systems. By emphasizing the importance of ‘complexity thinking’, an argument is made for conceptualizing action research as a ‘p...
Article
This article represents an attempt to reconcile discussions of aspects of educational research with recent developments in complexity science. It is argued that current characterizations of and distinctions among research methodologies in education are potentially counterproductive, in large part because they tend to be defined against or in terms...
Article
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Through several collaborative inquiries with teachers in elementary and middle schools, we have noticed a troublesome trend: teachers have become familiar with many of the key terms and catchphrases of various constructivist discourses, yet they tend to be relatively unfamiliar with the developments in epistemology that have driven the rapid emerge...
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In this article, we inquire into ways that heteronormativity might be interrupted. Working from the premise that discussions of curriculum are not only sexualized, but heterosexualized, we argue that studies of sexuality must become intertwined with all questions of curricular relations. The writing is developed around two recent investigations: on...
Article
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This article describes the culmination of a 2-year research study, where the researchers used writing practices with participants to structure interpretations of gay, lesbian and transgendered teachers' experiences. The researchers were interested in learning how such work might help the teachers interpret the ways in which they negotiated minority...
Article
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This article uses Iser's (1989, 1993) concept of “literary anthropology” to inform methods for textual interpretation that explicitly aim to create relationships among experiences of history, memory, language, and geography. This article presents an interpretive text, which functions as the report of the author's personal engagements with literary...
Article
Complexity theory informs this discussion of how collective learning practices can support personal learning. The learning system of a school is examined to understand the relationships, disequilibrium, and engagement of a learning community.
Article
This article explains how literary engagements can function as archives for interpretation. Drawing on hermeneutic and pragmatist philosophy, and Iser's discussions of 'literary anthropology', argues that engagements with literary fiction, when supported with what it describes as a 'Commonplace Book' interpretative structure, can develop personal a...
Article
Explains that queer theory is important for anyone interested in critically inquiring into how human experience is organized and represented. Notes that queer theory has come to represent how any named category cannot adequately represent the fullness or the complexity of human experience. Concludes that educators can use queer theory to think abou...
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In this article, we develop the thesis that curriculum studies work in Canada might be characterized in terms of some persistent and consistent theoretical commitments, ones that we suggest might have been prompted in part by the nation's history and by popular commentaries on national identity. We draw on ecological and postmodern discourses in ef...
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This essay suggests that recent developments in Complexity Theory have the potential to offer new insights to reader-response researchers. Presented as a rubric that collects theoretical understandings from a number of domains such as ecology, biology, neurology, immunology,psychology, education, sociology economics, anthropology, & evolutionary th...
Article
Full-text available
This essay suggests that recent developments in Complexity Theory have the potential to offer new insights to reader-response researchers. Presented as a rubric that collects theoretical understandings from a number of domains such as ecology, biology, neurology, immunology, psychology, education, sociology, economics, anthropology, & evolutionary...
Article
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I begin class by reading Mem Fox's (1985) children's book entitled Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge to the class. The main character in this book is a little boy named Wilfrid who learns from his parents that his good friend, ninety-six year old Miss Nancy, has "lost" her memory. Because Wilfrid does not understand what this means, he asks his par...
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This essay explores the author's experiences as a teacher, a reader, and a researcher in terms of some now-conventional knowledge about postmodernity. Using the term "postmodern research landscape," the author explains how the commonplaces of interactions among readers, teachers, and researchers co-emerge with ongoing senses of socio-spatial identi...
Article
Discusses the possibilities for pleasure, community, and collective meaning making among fifth- and sixth-grade students and various adults (teachers, parents, and school staff) during their prolonged engagement with a single literary work, Lois Lowry's "The Giver," as they read and reread the novel, annotating the text with their (changing) respon...
Article
Drawing on recent developments in complexity theory, ecology, and hermeneutics, Brent Davis and Dennis Sumara present an "enactivist" model of cognition and contrast it to popular notions of what it means to learn and think that pervade formal education. They illustrate their model by drawing from their experiences during a year-long study in a sma...
Article
Describes how a college professor incorporates "commonplace books" into his courses, with reading and writing the focal practices in curriculum studies classrooms. He defines commonplace books as collecting places for various writings related to the courses. The books represent fragments of a variety of experiences in a variety of themes. (SM)
Article
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Becoming a teacher involves more than transposing teaching skills onto an already- established personal identity: it means including the identity "teacher" in one's life. Beginning teachers must negotiate at least three teaching identities: those they bring with them into teacher education, those they develop while doing university course work, and...
Article
Uses the interpretative location of the author's reading of Michael Ondaatje's poem "Light" and the author's writing of his own poem "Three Women Pictured" as a way of organizing a discussion of three ideas that illuminate the complexity of shared reading and response in schools. (TB)
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In this essay the authors develop the metaphor of textual reading and writing in action research, focussing on two different types of texts: the readerly and the writerly. By examining the way in which each of these texts is written and read, three ideas are discussed: the value of understanding action research as a writerly text; the shift in auth...
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Argues that English teachers seeking equity must begin to address the absence of gay and lesbian literature in secondary schools by identifying quality gay and lesbian adolescent literature and including it in the curriculum. Lists the titles and provides summaries of fiction that might be used in high schools. (HB)
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As Ellen Goldberg pointed out in her keynote address at this meeting, there is no settled and shared definition of complexity science. If you were to stop and ask ten people wandering the halls of the Santa Fe Institute, you could get ten distinct descriptions of what the field is all about. One of the reasons for this lack of consensus is that it...
Article
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In this article, the authors interpret an event of collaborative poetry writing in a pre-service teacher education class in order to demonstrate the ways in which different theories of learning are and are not able to account for the production of original poems. The first part of the paper offers a conceptual heuristic that organizes a variety of...
Article
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Electronic literature (e-literature) is a computer-based genre that merges literary arts with multimedia design. Some features of e-literature include multiple modes of representation (e.g., sound, image, text), multiple narrative paths, and lack of closure. The genre began attracting attention almost 20 years ago after the publication of the first...

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