A Question of Discipline: Pedagogy, Power, and the Teaching of Cultural Studies

By Joyce E. Canaan; Debbie Epstein | Go to book overview
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to see ourselves, as 'the voice of authority', then we should, when possible, organise classes around workshops, around exercises where students are encouraged to engage with one another and thereby recognise the knowledges which they each bring to the learning process. Whilst growing economic, social, and political pressures, as well as the pressures of growing student numbers, may limit the degree to which we can avoid formal lectures, when it is possible -- in smaller classes, or in seminars held after formal lectures, for example -- we should develop strategies that enable students to speak for themselves.

Finally, whilst many of us are invested in the assumption that the examination is an objective process, acknowledging that we grade students in and from our own histories and social positionings does not have to be problematic. Indeed, it allows us to introduce into teaching an insight that informs our research and reading -- the recognition that we produce and interpret signs from particular, interested vantage points. We can use the knowledge that stems from our awareness of our interested vantage points to recognise when we reproduce dominant power relations and to seek, when possible, to dislodge the usual flow of power, the flow that maintains the powers that be.


I would like to thank the students who gave many hours of their time to my questions and the University of Central England for providing me with time off from teaching to do this research and with funds to have taped interviews transcribed. Thanks also to Ann Lane for transcribing these interviews. I would also like to thank Debbie Epstein and Deborah Steinberg for their careful comments.

See Canaan (n.d.) for a discussion of students' perceptions of the grading process.
Like Gore ( 1993) I use a hyphen rather than a stroke to separate power and knowledge. As she notes, a hyphen 'holds the words together and apart, showing both their presupposition of each other and their difference from each other' ( 1993:51).
This control can become visible when a lecturer and student disagree about what the student's 'true nature' is or should be.
Like Lather ( 1992: 132), I view post-critical pedagogy as that which aims 'to decolonize the space of academic discourse that is accessed by our privilege, to open that space up in a way that contributes to the production of a politics of difference'.
Morgan and McWilliams ( 1995) playfully acknowledge the symbolic power of this location.
Some of us may organise small classes or seminars in ways which are interactive (see Epstein, Chapter 10 in this volume, for a discussion of this). This challenges the assumption that knowledge 'trickles down' from us to them. In such


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A Question of Discipline: Pedagogy, Power, and the Teaching of Cultural Studies


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