Proposal Title

The Production of Silence: Conducting the Small Seminar

Proposal Abstract

In the Appendix on education to his landmark text Communities of Practice, Wenger reminds us: “Instruction does not cause learning; it creates a context in which learning takes place.” The teaching context I examine here is the small seminar taught along Socratic lines, typically thought to privilege “discussion” as the primary learning tool. Beginning with Merleau-Ponty’s conception of “the silence of primary consciousness” I draw upon Deleuze’s rewriting of phenomenology to find in this silence formal qualities of immanence, or composition — “we call this plane, which knows only longitudes and latitudes, speeds and haecceities, the plane of consistency or composition.” Taking as a commonplace the recognition that silence and speech are, both for individuals and for seminars, entirely interwoven and mutually dependent, I suggest that since the majority of an individual’s time in the seminar is spent in receptive silence the most prominent role of each seminar participant is to act as the silent interlocutor to which speech is directed. I reconceptualize the superficial conception of speech as primary agency by working with Karen Barad's model of intra-action rather than “interaction” to invoke what Whitehead calls the "patience of the environment" and thus to argue for the constitutive power of the nonverbal. Specifically, by understanding the seminar as an ecology filamented and woven through by the mutuality of receptive silence, I propose a pedagogy attuned to emergent learning and the agentive role of silent "actancy” -- a receptive pedagogy of the ear rather the logocentric emphasis on the utterance. I conclude by arguing that the analysis of seminar learning from the “bottom up” allows us to rethink both the form and function of educational technologies. David Cole’s provocative suggestion that today’s teachers, half-emergent from informational technologies in the modern classroom, “may be described as cyborgs” suggests one materialization of non-verbal compositional power enacted through the rhizomatic structuring of potential exchanges on the part of both organic and inorganic actors in the seminar forum.

Our learning outcomes will be defined by some "list work" for the audience fashioning a group articulation of organic as well as inorganic agency, particularly the agency of silence in the seminar. We will use the opportunity of shared silence to generate specific methodologies to enroll the mutual silence of the interlocutors to create an active learning resource, a means of engagement and transformation.

Location

Room 2005

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Mar 26th, 2:00 PM Mar 26th, 2:45 PM

The Production of Silence: Conducting the Small Seminar

Room 2005

In the Appendix on education to his landmark text Communities of Practice, Wenger reminds us: “Instruction does not cause learning; it creates a context in which learning takes place.” The teaching context I examine here is the small seminar taught along Socratic lines, typically thought to privilege “discussion” as the primary learning tool. Beginning with Merleau-Ponty’s conception of “the silence of primary consciousness” I draw upon Deleuze’s rewriting of phenomenology to find in this silence formal qualities of immanence, or composition — “we call this plane, which knows only longitudes and latitudes, speeds and haecceities, the plane of consistency or composition.” Taking as a commonplace the recognition that silence and speech are, both for individuals and for seminars, entirely interwoven and mutually dependent, I suggest that since the majority of an individual’s time in the seminar is spent in receptive silence the most prominent role of each seminar participant is to act as the silent interlocutor to which speech is directed. I reconceptualize the superficial conception of speech as primary agency by working with Karen Barad's model of intra-action rather than “interaction” to invoke what Whitehead calls the "patience of the environment" and thus to argue for the constitutive power of the nonverbal. Specifically, by understanding the seminar as an ecology filamented and woven through by the mutuality of receptive silence, I propose a pedagogy attuned to emergent learning and the agentive role of silent "actancy” -- a receptive pedagogy of the ear rather the logocentric emphasis on the utterance. I conclude by arguing that the analysis of seminar learning from the “bottom up” allows us to rethink both the form and function of educational technologies. David Cole’s provocative suggestion that today’s teachers, half-emergent from informational technologies in the modern classroom, “may be described as cyborgs” suggests one materialization of non-verbal compositional power enacted through the rhizomatic structuring of potential exchanges on the part of both organic and inorganic actors in the seminar forum.

Our learning outcomes will be defined by some "list work" for the audience fashioning a group articulation of organic as well as inorganic agency, particularly the agency of silence in the seminar. We will use the opportunity of shared silence to generate specific methodologies to enroll the mutual silence of the interlocutors to create an active learning resource, a means of engagement and transformation.