For the Love of Reality: Social Sculpture as Self-Experiment

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This practice-based PhD project encompasses a self-experiment in ‘social sculpture’ – a phrase coined by German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) to designate an expanded concept of art. Emancipatory and transformative in nature, it involves developing the perceptive, imaginative, reflective, and communicative capacities associated with art in a more traditional sense and applying those to navigating life itself. To me, this implies living with the attitude of an affected, socially engaged researcher: one who, with curiosity and care, seeks to understand and, where possible, improve the world they find themselves in, confronting internalised and external forms of oppression. My interest in social sculpture intersects with questions around the scope of human agency, as well as what helps and hinders creativity and learning. Therefore, I have been drawing on a number of theoretical angles, from Transformative Learning theory, psychoanalysis, and pragmatism to feminism, queer theory, and systems theory, to inform my research. From September 2019 to September 2020, I took my own experience as a starting point for an auto/biographical investigation into how this expanded concept of art could work out in practice: How could I be a creative participant in shaping my own life and society – both full of challenges – as a work of art? What practices could support me on this quest? And how could my findings be of value to others? I documented the self-experiment in auto/biographical Thinking Pieces, exploring creative nonfiction as an approach to tracing my learning process in a way that does justice to the depth and complexity of lived experience. This resulted in a number of essays, letters, poems, and short films, which were published on my blog, The research outcomes manifest on two interconnected levels: as embodied in my personal learning and engagement with the world around me, and, drawing on the ‘processing process’ of working with presentational methods to make sense of my experiences and share them with others, as an emerging social sculpture-inspired approach to life-research as soul-work.

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This paper offers a frame to reflect on the role of aesthetics in the development of a critical pedagogy for social justice in adult education. Arts-based research and practice have the power to illuminate the participants' views, ideas, and feelings, as well as the systems of values that are embedded in their contexts. Critical thinking and awareness are the result of relational and political processes, triggered by experience and going beyond subjectivity. The authors aim at defining a pedagogical practical theory that celebrates complexity, opens possibilities, develops the new, and triggers deliberate action, rather than fostering specific behaviours or learning. The paper itself is a piece of that pedagogy, developed through a cooperative method of writing-as-inquiry (duoethnography), here triggered by a photographic exhibition and resulting in the dialogic exploration of feminism in the authors' lives. In this example, it is shown how individual voices can be juxtaposed to develop an open, transforming theory of feminism, identity, and education.
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Time and the Rhythms of Emancipatory Education argues that by rethinking the way we relate to time, we can fundamentally rethink the way we conceive education. Beyond the contemporary rhetoric of acceleration, speed, urgency or slowness, this book provides an epistemological, historical and theoretical framework that will serve as a comprehensive resource for critical reflection on the relationship between the experience of time and emancipatory education. Drawing upon time and rhythm studies, complexity theories and educational research, I reflect in this book upon the temporal and rhythmic dimensions of education in order to (re)theorize and address current societal and educational challenges. The book is divided into three parts. The first begins by discussing the specificities inherent to the study of time in educational sciences. The second contextualizes the evolution of temporal constraints that determine the ways education is institutionalized, organized, and experienced. The third and final part questions the meanings of emancipatory education in a context of temporal alienation. This is the first book to provide a broad overview of European and North-American theories that inform both the ideas of time and rhythm in educational sciences, from school instruction, curriculum design and arts education, to vocational training, lifelong learning and educational policies. It will be of key interest to academics, researchers, postgraduate students and practitioners, in the fields of philosophy of education, sociology of education, history of education, psychology, curriculum and learning theory, and adult education. For more information, please visit:
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The specification of temporal origins for biography and autobiography — typically within the Enlightenment or modernism — that appear in sociological discussion are interrogated through discussing two parallel sites of origin. The first is Merton's discussion of `sociological autobiography', the second the feminist concern with reflexivity within sociological research processes. Both are related to the notion of `auto/biography'. `Auto/biography' disrupts conventional taxonomies of life writing, disputing its divisions of self/other, public/private, and immediacy/memory. Relatedly, `the auto/biographical I' signals the active inquiring presence of sociologists in constructing, rather than discovering, knowledge.
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This article presents a reflection on the possibility and potential advantages of the development of a humanities‐based approach to assessing the impact of the arts, which attempts to move away from a paradigm of evaluation based on a one‐size‐fits‐all model usually reliant on empirical methodologies borrowed from the social sciences. A “toolkit approach” to arts impact assessment, as the article argues, demands excessive simplifications, and its popularity is linked to its perceived advocacy potential rather than to any demonstrable contribution it may make to a genuine understanding of the nature and potential effects of artistic engagement. The article also explores the relationship between research, advocacy and the actual realities of policy‐making with a view to proposing a critical research agenda for impact evaluation based on Carol Weiss’s notion of the “enlightenment” function of policy‐oriented research. In particular, the article attempts to highlight the contribution that cultural policy scholars working within the humanities could make to this area of policy research.
In this article, I introduce the concept of BDSM as trauma play, which is the practice of intentionally engaging in BDSM activities in order to “play” with one’s past trauma or abuse. I begin by offering a fuller definition of trauma play, and I then summarize some of the key scholarly discussions related to the topic, especially the themes of healing, therapy, play, and embodiment. Following this, I take an autoethnographic approach, and I investigate my own trauma play experiences, which I subsequently analyze and use to highlight the need for more systematic research into this understudied topic area that significantly impacts the lives of some BDSM practitioners.
This book constructs a deepening, interdisciplinary understanding of adult learning and imaginatively reframes its transformative aspects. The authors explore the tension at the heart of current understanding of ‘transformative’ adult learning: that while it can be framed as both easy and imperative, personal transformation is in fact rooted in the context in which we live, our stories and relationships. At its core, transformation is never easy – nor always desirable – and the authors thus draw on interdisciplinary and auto/biographical inquiry to explore what it means to change our presuppositions and frames of meaning that guide our thinking. Using their linguistic, gendered, academic and cultural differences, the authors illuminate how the social, contextual, cultural, cognitive and psychological dimensions of transformation intertwine. In doing so, they emphasise the importance of transformation as a contingent struggle for meaning and recognition, social justice, fraternity, and the pursuit of truth. This engaging book will be of interest to students and scholars of transformative learning and education.
The book derives from an intense collaboration among colleagues from various countries about the current state of education, and a desire to bring education and psychoanalysis into renewed dialogue: the latter we believe can illuminate the messiness, muddle and ambivalence that education is always and inevitably heir to. Human beings are inevitably divided and inwardly ruptured beings, while education is a constant negotiation of self, identity and processes of separation from the old into the new. How infants and people negotiate the rupture and pervasive ambivalence is a core feature of education, across the lifespan, and psychoanalysis provides conceptual and reflexive tools to negotiate the journey of self and others.
In this article, I interrogate the changing forms that may be fundamental to transformative learning and how these are best chronicled and understood. Drawing on auto/biographical narrative research, I challenge the continuing primacy of a kind of overly disembodied, decontextualized cognition as the basis of transformation. Notions of epistemic shifts, for instance, and their central importance, can lack sufficient or convincing grounding in the complexities of whole people and their stories. I develop, instead, a psychosocial theory of recognition, drawing, especially, on critical theory and psychoanalysis: in this perspective, the experiencing self, in relationship, constitutes, agentically, the form that transforms, while fundamental changes in mind-set are deeply intertwined with shifts in inner–outer psychosocial dynamics. I challenge, in the process, some conventional boundaries between cognition and emotion, self and other, the psychological and sociocultural as well as collective and individual learning.
The pragmatic philosophy of William James and the analytic psychology of Carl Jung share many common characteristics. This article compares the Jamesian and Jungian perspectives on two issues central to the designs of each thinker: (1) the nature of the psyche and (2) the theory of knowledge. Attention is given to the ways in which Jung's personality theory gives expression to a philosophical position very similar to that developed by James. Jung himself did not systematically articulate the philosophical foundations of his personality theory. James's work provides valuable insights into these philosophical underpinnings. Potential benefits for the academician and practitioner are discussed.
This is a brief introduction to the issue on Black queer anthropology.
Jack Mezirow and John Dirkx engage in a dialogue in which they explore the similarities and differences between their views of transformative learning. Mezirow describes a rational process of learning that transforms an acquired frame of reference. Dirkx focuses on the nature of the self—a sense of identify and subjectivity—which he sees as soul work or inner work.
On the basis of an empirical analysis of 11 case studies and interviews with seven adult educators, this article offers a conceptual map for understanding how expressive ways of knowing function in fostering whole-person learning and transformative change. This conceptual map is formulated as a taxonomy with two primary categories. The first category, creating the learning environment, explores how expressive ways of knowing can be used to create psychological readiness for whole-person learning and an empathic field for learning-within-relationship. The second category, fostering the learning, explores how expressive ways of knowing can be used to evoke the experience learners seek to know more about, bring emotion into consciousness, and codify learning experiences for future access. In addition to the taxonomy, the findings also include educators' insights about the importance of developing their own readiness to encounter students as whole persons.
Diacritics 31.4 (2001) 22-40 In recent years, the critique of poststructuralism, itself loquacious, has held that the postulation of a subject who is not self-grounding undermines the possibility of responsibility and, in particular, of giving an account of oneself. Critics have argued that the various critical reconsiderations of the subject, including those that do away with the theory of the subject altogether, cannot provide the basis for an account of responsibility, that if we are, as it were, divided, ungrounded, or incoherent from the start, it will be impossible to ground a notion of personal or social responsibility on the basis of such a view. I would like to try to rebut this view in what follows, and to show how a theory of subject-formation that acknowledges the limits of self-knowledge can work in the service of a conception of ethics and, indeed, of responsibility. If the subject is opaque to itself, it is not therefore licensed to do what it wants or to ignore its relations to others. Indeed, if it is precisely by virtue of its relations to others that it is opaque to itself, and if those relations to others are precisely the venue for its ethical responsibility, then it may well follow that it is precisely by virtue of the subject's opacity to itself that it sustains some of its most important ethical bonds. In all the talk about the social construction of the subject, we have perhaps overlooked the fact that the very being of the self is dependent not just on the existence of the Other—in its singularity, as Levinas would have it, though surely that—but also on the possibility that the normative horizon within which the Other sees and listens and knows and recognizes is also subject to a critical opening. This opening calls into question the limits of established regimes of truth, where a certain risking of the self becomes, as Levinas claims, the sign of virtue [see Foucault]. Whether or not the Other is singular, the Other is recognized and confers recognition through a set of norms that govern recognizability. So whereas the Other may be singular, if not radically personal, the norms are to some extent impersonal and indifferent, and they introduce a disorientation of perspective for the subject in the midst of recognition as an encounter. For if I understand myself to be conferring recognition on you, for instance, then I take seriously that the recognition comes from me. But in the moment that I realize that the terms by which I confer recognition are not mine alone, that I did not singlehandedly make them, then I am, as it were, dispossessed by the language that I offer. In a sense, I submit to a norm of recognition when I offer recognition to you, so that I am both subjected to that norm and the agency of its use. As Hegel would have it, recognition cannot be unilaterally given. In the moment that I give it, I am potentially given it, and the form by which I offer it is one that potentially is given to me. In this sense, one might say, I can never offer it, in the Hegelian sense, as a pure offering, since I am receiving it, at least potentially and structurally, in the moment, in the act, of giving. We might ask, as Levinas surely has, what kind of gift this is that returns to me so quickly, that never really leaves my hands. Is it the case that recognition consists, as it does for Hegel, in a reciprocal act whereby I recognize that the Other is structured in the same way that I am, and I recognize that the Other also makes, or can make, this very recognition of sameness? Or is there perhaps an encounter with alterity here that is not reducible to sameness? If it is the latter, how are we to understand this alterity? On the one hand, the Hegelian Other is always found outside, or at least it is first found outside, and only later recognized to be constitutive. This has led critics of Hegel to conclude that the Hegelian subject...
This book brings together the findings of the psychologist Jung, the poet Eliot, and the historian Toynbee, each of whom has explored the dynamic potentialities of the deep unconscious and the creative and destructive forces latent in the human psyche. Martin suggests that it is possible for man to use psychological technique as a means to a more creative way of life; depth psychology and religion being complementary approaches to the same central reality. This new way of life may be brought about by developing the positive possibilities of the deep unconscious. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
"Care of the Soul" and "Soul Mates," the first two books by Thomas Moore, were both huge national bestsellers, appearing on the "New York Times" hardcover bestseller list for more than eight months each and selling more than two million copies. In this important sequel, Thomas Moore takes readers to a new level and teaches them how to relate to the world and nature in a more meaningful way. Introducing the idea that soul is an essential ingredient of life, "Care of the Soul" together with "Soul Mates" changed the way millions of readers thought about psychology and spirituality. Now, with "The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life," Moore takes another radical step, applying care of the soul to our surroundings and the concrete particulars of how we live. Starting from the premise that we can no longer afford to live in a disenchanted world, Moore shows that a profound, enchanted engagement with life is not a childish thing to be put away with adulthood, but a necessity for our personal and collective survival. With his lens focused on such specific aspects of daily life as clothing, food, furniture, architecture, ecology, language and politics, Moore describes the renaissance these can undergo when there is a genuine engagement with beauty, craft, nature and art in both private and public life. When all is said and done, what makes life worth living? Not electronics, entertainments or rapid information retrieval, but a spiritual and soulful vision that arises from enchanted nature, a fantasy-filled childhood, intimate neighborhoods and homes and a public life dedicated to the needs of the heart. "The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life" opens up the care of the soul and thesearch for intimate life to the ordinary world in which we live every day. Millions of readers who found comfort and substance in Moore's previous bestsellers will discover in this new book ways to restore the heart and soul of work, home and creative endeavors through a radical, fresh return to ancient ways of living the soulful life.
A cardinal dimension of adult development and the learning most uniquely adult pertains to becoming aware that one is caught in one's own history and is reliving it. This leads to a process of perspective transforma tion involving a structural change in the way we see ourselves and our rela tionships. If the culture permits, we move toward perspectives which are more inclusive, discriminating and integrative of experience. We move away from uncritical, organic relationships toward contractual relation ships with others, institutions and society. Perspective transformation refor mulates the criteria for valuing and for taking action. Behavior change is often a function of such transformation. In this emerging transformation theory, adult education finds its own inherent goals and functions.
Jurgen Habermas is the most renowned living German philosopher. This book aims to give a clear and readable overview of his philosophical work. It analyzes both the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas's social theory, and its more concrete applications in the fields of ethics, politics, and law. Finally, it examines how Habermas's social and political theory informs his writing on real, current political and social problems. The author explores Habermas's influence on a wide variety of fields--including philosophy, political and social theory, cultural studies, sociology, and literary studies. He uses a problem-based approach to explain how Habermas's ideas can be applied to actual social and political situations. The book also includes a glossary of technical terms to further acquaint the reader with Habermas's philosophy. Unlike other writing on Habermas, this Introduction is accessibly written and explains his intellectual framework and technical vocabulary, rather than simply adopting it.
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