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Lesson Plans

Re: Teaching 'Culture'

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Russell J Rosener (rrosener)
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 12:42:59 -0500 (CDT)

On Tue, 25 Jun 1996, henry wrote:

> Date: Tue, 25 Jun 1996 08:04:19 -0700 (MST)
> From: henry <taylorh>
> To: Russell J Rosener <rrosener>
> Cc: artsednet, Nikki Crabtree <Palleyart>
> Subject: Re: Teaching 'Culture'
> Hi Russ,
> On Sun, 23 Jun 1996, Russell J Rosener wrote:
> >...ask [your]self how to approach a specific topic and organize a class
> > around my response to culture and art. Ask yourself what you think is
> > important about culture and art. You may surprise yourself. Just jot
> > down ideas, they don't have to be chronological. Later you can draw
> > connections and sort through what you've got.
> excellent advice!
> However, what do you mean by the term "post-modern dogma"?

> To which thread of postmodern thought do you refer? "Postmodernism" if it
> is at all internally consistent, can have no monolithic structure or
> authority (dogma); and so the phrase would seem to have something of the
> oxymoron in it. All-in-all, from what I have read in the area,
> postmodernism is only a mixed bag of new analytical tools and benchmarks
> such as deconstruction or uncertainty.

I should have specified avoidance of all dogma, but since postmodernism,
under its various guises is "THE" current dogma I singled it out. There is
no oxymoron there. Anyone who has gone to grad school for an MFA in the
last 10 years or so knows that Po-Mo is the current monolithic academic
theory. Theories may start out as subversive, but soon end up as
"paradigm" which I consider to be a "jargon" word. Once established they
are part of the authority.

> Without recognizing it we all become more and more "postmodern" daily.
> Whenever we challenge some absolutist notion or point out the uncertainty
> of things we are practicing the new paradigm (the one Suzanne K. Langer
> was waiting for) whenever we fragment the larger universe in narrowing
> our discussion to some specific context we reject the international or
> universal models of the modernist era.

This is simply practicing good skills of intellect and logic. This is
really pre-modern in that the individual relies upon his own powers of
reason and observation rather than on experts or authorities of specific
topics. That was one of the drawbacks of Modernism. Just because I use my
brain does not mean I am contributing to some sort of collective
"post-modern" revolution.

> As you say the jargons of Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Althusser et al..
> > can be extremely confusing and irrelevant to those untutored in the
> > jargon.
> But that is not really postmodernism but rather contemporary theory
> propounded by some of the engineers of the attitude. John Dewey and even
> Ralph Waldo Emerson might also be pointed to as early postmodernists and
> certainly their "jargon" is more accessible.

One of the things I loathe about post-modernism is its hackneyed
appropriation of history. Calling Emerson a "proto post modernist" (YIKES!
Jargon!) Is like calling Isaac Newton a Modernist. One cannot simply lift
ideas and figures out of their complex historical context to wave the
current idealogical banner. They existed in a specific time and place,
which is how one must evaluate them. Not to say we can't draw present
relevance from their teaching and thoughts for our own inspiration..

> When you say:
> > I would simply bring in media images for students to look at and
> > de-construct on their own terms, rather than have them mediated by a
> > big-time artist's viewpoint. The average person has a surprisingly
> > good ability to "read" the images we are constantly bombarded with.
> you, as well, voice the postmodern sentiment and structure. Deconstruction
> is a tool built to demonstrate the weakness inherent in relying on
> authorities (big-time artists) I alway laugh at the irony of a
> self-professed "postmodernist" who trys to tell us how things are as-if
> there were facts. And with that in mind I need to remind everyone that
> the model of postmodernism I describe here is only a model and only one
> point of view. I do not offer it to tell anyone what postmodernism IS but
> to propose ONE viewpoint on the topic. Hopefully there are now hundreds of
> understandings out there on PoMo, hopefully they contradict one another.
> (at least from my point of view...)

Yes, that's a very good point. At least the current theory has made the
atmosphere a bit more democratic. Hopefully those who follow any
intellectual or academic theory realize it is only a theory, and only
exists in that realm. Most academic theories wil prove or disprove
themselves where the rubber hits the road.

Russ Rosener

"Banter about art is little better than useless."