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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Scaffolds of Subjectivity: Coming to Terms with Formations of Subjectivity in the Act of Learning

Dr Elizabeth M. Grierson.

Engaging the question ‘what learning means’, this paper opens thresholds of teaching to consider the political economy of subjectivity in the act of learning. This premise is more than acknowledging ‘the teachable moment’; more than the assumptions of ‘plural voices’ in the pedagogical contract. This is about critically engaging with questions of subjectivity: such as, how do we become a learning subject and who initiates the shaping power of that political architecture?
Drowned in the wash of humanist idealisms the significance of the ‘political’ as a way of thinking is too often submerged. Foucault has dealt with the way human beings become subjects through discourses of power; Hélène Cixous seeks a language whereby subjectivity can re-speak its ontological formations; and Laclau and Mouffe have argued for a ‘radical pluralism’ whereby aspects of validity and subjectivity are not to be impounded in the liberal, humanist, transcendental ground of the metaphysical subject. This discussion seeks alternative authorities for legitimating subjectivity that may displace scaffolds of the ‘natural’ in favour of the ‘political’ as an ethical point of departure and of arrival, and ultimately eschewing any pellucid returns to dominant assumptions. The research promotes alternative narratives of transgression which may at first sight appear inapposite. But are they?


Dr Elizabeth M. Grierson  (New Zealand)
Principal Lecturer & Head of Research
School of Art and Design
Auckland University of Technology

Elizabeth Grierson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), a professional leader in the creative arts with significant experience as an arts educator. Her PhD (University of Auckland NZ) was a poststructuralist investigation of the politics of know ledge in institutional discourses of visual arts. Editor of academic journal ?ACCESS Critical Perspectives on Cultural, Communication & Policy Studies?; National President Aotearoa NZ Association of Art Educators; Overseas Advisor Global Studies Association (UK); publishes on the arts in education, visual culture, and questions of identity and subjectivity in globalised knowledge conditions.s

  • Subjectivity
  • Pedagogy
  • Political
  • Power
  • Narrative
  • Ethical Practice

(Virtual Presentation, English)