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collective self-education in the arts and culture…

Post-pedagogy :: Miško Šuvaković

The term ‘post-pedagogy’ was coined by American ‘Derridean’ theoretician Gregory L. Ulmer referring to the concept of ’scene of writing’ of Jacques Derrida.[1] In Ulmer’s book Applied Grammatology ‘post-pedagogy’ has been applied to the completely different authors such as the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, caries sculptor and performance artist Joseph Beuys, film director Sergei Eisenstein, and theatre director Antonin Artaud. For Ulmer the term post(e)-pedagogy indicates a move beyond conventional pedagogy in order to establish pedagogy in the era of electronic media.

I will assign several different possibilities to the concept of post-pedagogy:

(1) opening-up of the traditional pedagogic process (process of transmission of ‘ideas’ /knowledge/ from the teacher to the student) towards research or behavioural work of equal collaborators that learn from each other[2];

(2) anarchistic destruction of the cannons, rules, criteria, and laws of pedagogy, by performing pedagogical situation as luddism and emancipating act of creation[3];

(3) annulation (destruction, deconstruction, relativisation, decentralisation) of one’s own status of ‘teacher as the proprietor of knowledge’[4];

(4) establishing theoretical or pedagogical lecture as open, nomadic, and interactive artwork[5];

(5) execution of theoretical, auto-poetical, or pedagogical lecture as an event that can not be precisely identified as a lecture in theoretical sense, as an artwork (meta-representation), or as a sort of promotional workshop[6];

(6) establishing  the act of theoretical delivery as a stage event, or in the mode of a stage event, with elaborating special rhetorical-verbal, behavioural, and media examples, or articulations-and-attractions of lecture or instruction[7];

(7) situating the act of theoretical delivery in the system of media reproductive communication (radio, television, LP records, CDs)[8];

(8) execution of theoretical act of delivery in the system of interactive electronic media (computer network or multimedia and VR)[9] – with the possibility of reply from the listener and his/her intervention in the frame of proposed lecturer’s themes and explications;

(9) establishing any artistic practice as the basic model (body) by which representation, proxy, demonstration, or signifying performance (testing) of theoretical propositions and possibilities is executed.[10]

What is important for understanding post-pedagogy is that the term ‘pedagogy’ is redefined (transformed, transfigured) as ‘productive practice of performance’ on a real or fictional ’stage’ (screen). Pedagogical act is not transmission of a ‘crystallised knowledge’ from one subject (subject-master of knowledge) to the other (subject-without knowledge), but a set-up of possibilities for different individuals to construct themselves as subjects of knowledge in a conceptually demonstrative manner, by the means of theoretical, artistic or cultural-media material apparatuses. Those are actually dynamic interactive epistemologies or theory at work.


[1] Gregory L. Ulmer (1987), Applied Grammatology; Post(e)-pedagogy from Jacques Lacan to Joseph Beuys, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkinks University Press

[2] That process of studying through research was elaborated in the Art&Language group in the early 70es. For example, Therry Atkinson and Michel Baldwin define it with a following scheme: “Searched by the index of = def. A-L(x)(if x is a member of A-L then (($y) x learns a from y and x ¹ y))”.

[3] John Cage used it in his university lectures. One of his post-pedagogical gestures is giving the highest mark ‘A’ at the beginning of the course, without assesing the knowledge that is usually done at the end of the course.

[4] For example, Tzvetan Todorov speaks of late Roland Barthes as a ‘thinker’ and ‘writer’ who overturns the discourse of the teacher. He says that Barthes’ books are not deliveries of ideas, but verbal gestures (action writing).

[5] For example, lectures of Joseph Beuys executed as an art event (performance, happening, action).

[6] For example, lectures of Robert Wilson held as some kind of pedagogical or theoretical performance, thematising and interpreting his own theatre poetics.

[7] This sort of lecture practice was utilised by many. In modern history, we could refer to lectures by Martin Heidegger or Ludwig Wittgenstein, subject of many anecdotes. For example, Heidegger’s singing, or Wittgenstein’s laying on the floor of the classroom while he lectures. But the notion of conceptualy aimed theatralisation of lectural-pedagogical act can be found in Lacan’s lectures on mathemes or his TV performance and lecture he held for the medium of television about television. We can also mention, for example, lectures of philosopher Jacques Derrida, philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, theoretician of culture Boris Groys, etc.

[8] Many examples could be mentioned from John Cage to Lacan, Derrida or Slavoj Žižek.

[9] The examples are different and there are many net-artists or theoreticians whose work communicates through pedagogical modes by means of www (for example critical art ensemble).

[10] The example are theoretical-theatrical or theoretical performances of the group TkH – Teorija Koja Hoda (Walking Theory). TkH worked with theoretical constructions that were realised through public performance in order to show the body of theory.

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Category: Dictionary of Self-education

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Deschooling Classroom

Deschooling Classroom is a project that addresses the contemporary independent cultural scenes in the region, researching and offering an alternative to the hierarchical models of education in the art and culture. Methodologically, the project moves away from the concepts of individual authorship and expertise, and advocates open collective educational structures where self-organised communities facilitate horizontal production, exchange and distribution of knowledge.