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Hybrid Energies and Mutant Forms
Being the confessions of a pedagogical misfit
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Prologue - in which our hero* introduces
himself and explains why he is a ‘pedagogical
Studied English Literature but teaches
in a School of Creative Arts
Joined UH in 1999 as an hourly paid
lecturer, a day a week, as a ‘stopgap’
• An ‘accidental’ teacher…
• …in the ‘wrong subject’
*’Hero’ as in ‘the main character or protagonist in a story’, not as
in a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding
achievements, or noble qualities’ (OED)
Chapter III - in which our hero is unsettled
• Worried and uneasy
• Liable to change,
• Not yet resolved (OED)
Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare (1781)
1998: Receives PhD on the
contemporary Northern
Irish poet Paul Muldoon in –
but what next…?
Chapter IV - in which our hero accepts the
call, crosses the threshold and meets good faerie
1999: begins to teach at UH
Practice-based students working
in interactive media, animation,
Challenge to prior expectations of
learning in higher education
Beginning of a shake-up of subject
knowledge and pedagogical
approaches: ‘Only connect.’
Gandalf – never a teacher at UH, and
Chapter VIII - in which our hero encounters
a strange Fish
A blobfish
Chapter VIII - in which our hero encounters
a strange Fish
‘…being interdisciplinary —
breaking out of the prison houses
of our various specialities to the
open range first of a general
human knowledge and then of the
employment of that knowledge in
the great struggles of social and
political life — is not a possible
human achievement. Being
interdisciplinary is more than hard
to do: it is impossible to do.’
(Fish, 1991: 106)
Stanley Fish
Chapter X - in which our hero is given a
magical map and other enchanted items
Discomfort of unsettlement + stimulus of
new colleagues in new context leads to:
• Reflection on student perspectives
• Extension/refocusing of own knowledge
• Questioning of epistemologies (via
Marshall McLuhan, Katherine Hayles,
Trevor Joyce, etc. )
• …and of teaching modes (lectures,
seminars, PBL)
• …and of assessment methods (iMaps,
visual essay, critical artefacts, etc.)
Chapter XI - in which our hero spends time
in the dark and at varying temperatures
Chapter XII - in which our hero
recommends unsettlement
John Keats – Negative Capability: in a letter to his brothers in Dec
1817: ‘when a man is capable of being in uncertainties,
mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and
reason’ (Gittings, 1977: 43)
Marshall McLuhan: ‘The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a
moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born…
The moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom
and release from the ordinary trance and numbness imposed by
them on our senses.’ (McLuhan, 1994: 55)
Chapter XIII - in which our hero refers, as it
is decreed, to Chickering and Gamson
Unsettled pedagogy can lead us
unwittingly into at least 3 of
Chickering and Gamson’s 7
• 2. Good Practice Encourages
Cooperation among Students
• 3. Good Practice Encourages
Active Learning
• 7. Good Practice Respects Diverse
Talents and Ways of Learning
Chapter XIX - in which our hero returns
home (sort of)
Out of chaos, connections…
Epilogue - in which our hero succumbs to
flattery, believes his own hype, and finds himself
(once again) unsettled
What have I done? (And what am I going to do?)
Chickering, A.W., and Gamson, Z.F. (1987) ‘Seven principles for good
practice in undergraduate education.’’ American Association of Higher
Education Bulletin. Vol. 39. No.7. 3-7
Fish, S. (1991) ‘Being Interdisciplinary Is So Very Hard to Do.’ Issues in
Integrative Studies. No. 9. 99-112.
Gittings, R., ed. (1977) Letters of John Keats. Oxford: Oxford University
Hayles, N.K. (2002) Literary Machines. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Joyce, T. (1995) Of Two Minds: Of Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics. Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan.
McLuhan, M. (1994, orig. 1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions
of Man. London and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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