A pedagogy of implication : witnessing historical trauma as a question of learning / Sara Matthews
Includes bibliographical references (p. 179-195)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
This dissertation inquires into the difficult emotional work of learning from representations that return the traumatic past in narrative. Three main themes are discussed: how pedagogy configures one's encounter with representations of social breakdown and the challenges of secondary witnessing; how learners and educators respond to such representations as well as the conditions that shape these encounters; and the potential that aesthetic practices offer the work of making significance from experiences of profound helplessness and breakdown. The project considers the linking of trauma and pedagogy and works with the psychoanalytic literature on trauma as well as historical debates on the status of trauma in learning. An epistemological orientation that can address the status of knowledge and thinking through times of conflict and uncertainty is discussed. The exploration of this orientation is situated across three disciplinary boundaries: the humanities, education and psychoanalysis. Where psychoanalysis explores how emotional life figures into the construction of knowledge and meaning, the humanities raise the study of the human condition as a speculative rather than empirical investigation. Together, these approaches centre matters of human passion as well as those of reason. Literature and artistic practice offer a way to represent and interpret affect laden experience without the need to resolve the tension between knowing and not knowing. Indeed, the contingency of experience becomes a model for creative expression. Artistic practice helps us conceptualize the work of making significance when learning repeats the qualities of trauma: where there is uncertainty and understanding is deferred, artistic mechanisms hold this tension while symbolizing its emotional difficulties. The project brings educational theory together with clinical psychoanalytic knowledge and borrows a language to describe passionate experience from the Romantic poets. John Keats (1819) saw in the nature of humanity both intense beauty and suffering. He understood the creation of meaning as made from a struggle that engaged both heart and mind, what he called soul-making. It is this view of education as soul-making that is brought to the study of problems in learning from genocide and war.
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