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Posthuman(esque) Pedagogy?

Is it possible to create a space where these two species of knowledge can meet and mingle? (Pedersen, 2010: 241).

I found this question to be crucial when considering educability of the posthuman. What Pedersen meant in her article was the boundary work between animal and education studies but it could be extended to whole disciplines in the way Pickering (2005) did in his essay where he suggested that natural and social sciences transcend each other by forming assemblages with ‘inner unity’ and around ‘evolving dialectic’. I think that a similar project can be undertaken in regard to different subjectivities, namely writers/editors and readers, as exemplified by the Liquid Reader Project from the University of London, my nomination for a posthuman(-esque) pedagogy task. Even though it does not lead explicitly to human/machinic hybridisation, the project, inspired by  Gary Hall’s and Clare Birchall’s Liquid Book Project aspires to explore liquidity, promote boundary work, foster open access and technological innovation and so questions the human project understood as ‘one-way, closed form of knowledge transfer in university education that is encompassed by the static, photocopiable ‘course reading pack’ – typically designed by course leaders and handed out to students’ (from the project description).

The blurb from the dedicated website spells out exactly the origin and the rationale of the project.

[This project] engages media students in a dynamic process of devising instead a fluid, open-access, online ‘reader’, whose content and form are being negotiated, updated and altered by students themselves, under the guidance of the course leader. Using the freely available media platforms (online archives, educational wikis, YouTube, Blogger), students are able to both link to the already available textual and audio-visual material (essays, books, video clips) and upload their own documents and designs. They are thus actively involved in producing a ‘liquid reader’ – a customisable learning tool which involves them in curriculum design. Via an involvement with the Open Humanities Press, and its Culture Machine Liquid Books Series, the project promotes the socially significant ‘open scholarship’ and ‘open learning’ under the open access agenda.

According to the project description, the aim is to decentre the author by making everybody an editor/author, which can be seen as an attempt to liquidise the boundaries between the two subjectivities, thus enabling them to meet and mingle, producing various entanglements.

There is a wealth of additional questions and issues raised alongside, for example in regard to the process of remixing, repurposing,  limitability of the ‘book’ , attribution, citation and intellectual property.

There are two accompanying tasks here.

~ by Ania Rolińska on November 26, 2011 . Tagged: , , ,

6 Responses to “Posthuman(esque) Pedagogy?”

  1.   Austin Tate Says:

    Thanks Ania… its an interesting area to explore. Would a wiki be something related to this type of interaction? Obviously our reach in such collaborations is greater in an internet connected world. Does collaboration together in this fluid way means posthumansim?

    I loved the cute “Source” character :-)

    •   Ania Rolińska Says:

      Thanks Austin for the comment. I don’t think the collaboration itself is posthuman, it’s more the new understandings of the subjectivity that are at play with posthuman in this learning experiment. This is of course enabled by the Internet – would/could teachers and students create course materials equally easily, effectively working in an offline mode? And to what extent could such materials be interacted with by another cohort of students? Think of costs, time, etc. The mediation of the Internet makes it possible – the cyborgisation of course content, or the journal itself (see the Liquid Book reader).

      As to the cute ‘Source’ character, it’s actually a reading lamp designed by Black & Blum. I think I might have inadvertently mislead people into thinking that I am the author of the design. I have adjusted the caption to prevent that from happening again.

  2.   Grace Elliott Says:

    Hi Ania,

    I hadn’t heard the term ‘liquid reading’ before so thank you for this. I like your attempt at capturing the liquidity of the reading process. As Austin said, it’s cute. Looking at things from a different perspective does help reflect on what it is we know ,or think we know, which your pics have captured well. I do enjoy looking at your work, you really are very creative. and from what I garner so far in this course, it’s a necessary quality for the posthuman.

    •   Ania Rolińska Says:

      Hi Grace, many thanks for your kind words – I’m glad you enjoy my creative attempts (although please read my reply to Austin’s comment to learn about the ‘cute character’) – I think the IDEL module last term unleashed whatever creativity I had in me and this course is continuing that mission. I’d like to design courses that help my students find their own creative way of expressing themselves and learn more about themselves in the process.

      Why do you think creativity is a prerequisite for the posthuman education? Is it because it allows transposition, looking at things from a different perspective, thinking out of proverbial box and thus extending our experience which in itself might be limiting??
      As to the liquid reading I am sometimes concerned that the attempts to visualise might render reading/interpreting shallower but then I think of the collective feeling of amazement at the multiple interpretations our visual artefacts induced and I think liquidity might be the way to go …

  3.   Neil David Buchanan Says:

    Ania, I was fascinated by this project and have just spent half an hour wandering around inside the liquid book! What fascinated me, too, were the other things, the unaccountable and unexpected things that appeared alongside the texts and images such as adverts and inducements to test my muscle density or something. It makes reading a different experience. And when links end in dead ends you discover that there are other places to go.

    I’m with Grace on the creativity question as I think the “audit and accountability culture” is slowly draining the creative side of life but like you I find myself exploring new ways of looking at things thanks to this course.

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