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Lisa’s Class

Camille, thanks so much for taking on the “grand narrative” bit and reminding us that’s passe! The term that came to mind as an alternative is scaffolding. We need some kind of networked structure of tropes and metaphors that complement each other but can be deployed variously and flexibly in myriad situations.

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In Class Cultures, we’re reading Lisa Duggan‘s Twilight of Equality and it fills a gap that’s been missing from the democracy class – redistribution as the unifying theme of all left politics.

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Well, I’m going to use the rant against the south as my explicit text, am still looking for an implicit one. Meanwhile, some blogs that discuss FTS.com and may be of future/further interest:
the liberal reality-based avenger” who is based in China.
StumbleUpon, a community tool that acts as a search engine of sites recommended by “friends and peers” and perhaps not accessible via Google. Hmmm!

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This one really bothered me. Maybe cuz of Lisa’s class and a resultant heightened awareness. First, there was forcing all the Hispanics in Atlanta to prove – for the second time – that they were U.S. citizens and therefore eligble to vote. Now comes this:

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I’ve been getting clearer about some of the academic impulses (indoctrination?) that I’ve been resisting. This, from Paul Claudel on Bourdieu’s principle of aesthetic distance, sums it up:
“This typically intellectualist theory of artistic perception directly contradicts the experience of the art-lovers closest to the legitimate definition; acquisition of legitimate culture by insensible familiarization within the family circle tends to favour an enchanted experience of culture which implies forgetting the acquisition. The ‘eye’ is a product of history reproduced by education.”

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This is my required question for Lisa’s course on Class Cultures.
Where my head is with all of the above is the convergence among curriculum in all my classes and in my head around the mediated construction of subjectivity.
My question is influenced by the lecture given by historian Dipesh Chakrabartty at Mt. Holyoke on Thursday, 10/28. He talked about two impulses informing historical work that parallel our discussions about embodiment. One impulse is disembodied and leans toward rational, objectivizing distance – essentially (it seems to me) a variant of Bourdieu’s principle of aesthetic distance. The other impulse is embodied – the desire to “inhabit” the past one is exploring, to engage the senses. His argument was that historians need to be more self-reflexive about protecting some of the necessary distance in order to employ a degree of rationality while being responsive to the embodied forms of mass media and certain forms of democracy that have produce different, non-Habermasian publics.

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Class (as in our group of students and professor, smile) seemed more energetic last night than prevously. We’ve had good discussions all along, but last nght we got into some moments of…debate…(?)…I’m not sure how to characterize it. Lisa pushed me pretty hard, I guess she thinks I can take it. ;-) Lynn too cautioned about conflation – generalizing statements about one (socioeconomic) class to others. It’s definitely an area I need to work on – articulating (verbally) my intuitions about how things “go together” (articulate, smile) in a more precise manner. Lisa thought I was getting too abstract at one point; in my mind, I was trying to pinpoint how an embodied subject (me, or you, grin) might notice – capture? – themselves in a moment of acting out a particular class subjectivity, perpetuating the on-going formation of class in terms of the status quo.

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This piece by Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism, is amazing. My mind was spinning with thoughts about Critical Link 4 and Mette Rudvin’s presentation and paper (that I referenced in my submission to the Proceedings). (Many links cite him; here’s one of interest.)
He says professionalization is the penultimate triumph of the “Mid-Victorians” exerting control over personal and social life, by circumscribing specific areas of knowledge which bestowed the knowers with a kind of magical power in a vertically-oriented society, always looking up for self-advancement. “The autonomy of a professional person derived from a claim upon powers existing beyond the reach or understanding of ordinary humans” (p. 93-94).

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Well, I don’t know, but I would guess that we ended up about where Lisa was hoping we’d end up in our discussion last night. :-) I was noticing how oriented I am to “structure of feeling”, how Marxist-oriented (or at least well-grounded) many (most? all?) of the new cohort is, and now wondering about poststructuralist group dynamics. :-) Someone was telling me that the first round of this class was tough (in some respects) because the students had such different interests….I imagine we do too, but we pulled off quite a participatory discussion that (from my subjective space of point of view, smile) was a thinking-together which generated new knowledge (although to what degree and how much varied, I’m sure). Probably I’m in this mode because of an intellectual interaction between this class and Stephen’s (where we’re discussing inclusive democracy, how to make room for difference).
In this class, I’m still struggling with the notion of overdetermination, which is used by Althusser and Freud, among others. My penchant for group dynamics and forms of social metonymy (when the microsocial “stands in” for the macrosocial), has me thinking about the valences individuals bring to group membership & participation….which I’d just bet can easily be overdetermined in a parallel way as Gibson-Graham et al used it (building on Althusser).
Anyway, congrats to Erin for nailing the inverse equation of “suffering” being the possible overdeterminant instead of “class”!

I can’t say that I’ve found Bourdieu “riviting,” as Lisa did. I’m working my way through the interviews but needed to shift gears, so I read the background piece by James C. Scott. (Confession: first time ever.)
I am enthralled. Scott’s analysis fits right in with

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