Student, text, world : literacy and the expansion of pedagogical space
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Using Foucault’s notion of a dispositif or social apparatus, this thesis charts the pedagogical relations established in contemporary literacy discourse in terms of a space of visibility and a form of sayability, and analyses them as operating within power-knowledge. It furthers this analysis by conceptualising the space of literacy as a normative heterotopia and as a recent mutation of bio-power, the government of the developing body. Such analysis problematises the discourse of literacy, from the term’s systematic indefiniteness to its real effectivity in producing subjects, spaces and disciplinary techniques. Literacy combines and interrelates a nineteenth-century establishment and a twentieth-century rearrangement of pedagogical space. The national language, the developing child, as well as the world of demands and national progress: all emerge as part of the nineteenth-century educational state, forming a set of disciplinary procedures, a structure of perception and a desire to recognise and utilise language development. Literacy discourse appropriates these knowledges and multiplies the sites in which they operate. It articulates the recognition and enablement of non-standard literacies with the governmental project of intensifying and directing the powers of a population. The pedagogical relations operationalised in literacy discourse project a continuous disciplinary power over a general social space. Thus, literacy has become both a common and much theorised social concern, and a term which structures lives, spaces, discourse and power.Beginning with a close analysis of a recent education policy document, this thesis looks at the deployment of literacy as a way of organising experience through discourse and as a means of modulating the relations between three historically constituted terms: the student, the text, and the world. Schooling and literacy thus insert themselves into a machinery of social production and into the production of everyday concerns and processes. Consequently, literacy enters into our most material and non-linguistic moments through a teleological arrangement of time and space, a pedagogisation which is at the same time a textualisation of existence.
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