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Re: recommended readings/postmodernism

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Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D. (dg09)
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 14:25:05 -0600

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Dear Henry:

Boy it has been a long time since I have read a post from you. Many of my
friends that are also using the internet have remarked quite frequently
lately, that we have missed your remarkable, sensitive and clear comments
on the listservs. Good to see you back.

Now, I have some questions for you. It sounds like you may be able to
demystify for me and others the meanings of several words that were used in
Alison King's post.

Would it be too great an imposition for you to give us a clear, objective
and non-jargon definition of each of the following words? I have been
grappling with how to explain these terms to my undergraduate students and
therefore I realize I must not have a clear handle on them or I would be
able to do so. I would appreciate your common sense way of explaining
things. I believe many people on both of these lists would profit from
such a definition. If this is too great an imposition, I understand.
Please forgive.

Anyway, could you define each of the following words as it relates to art
and art education:

value pluralism

A definition which talks about the differences between these isms would
also be helpful. Forgive me if this sounds like I am coming from a
formalist perspective, but I have heard these words used frequently.
Perhaps I am surrounded by post-formalists or by people who like all of us
are trying to make sense of all of this.

In any case, any help you could offer to decipher this language would be

Cheers and many thanks,


>Hi Alison!
>Postmodern modes of thought eh? Your list of ism's suggests that you are
>taking a formalist/academic approach to or perspective on PoMo. May I
>suggest that PoMo thought escaped campus a while back and variations
>abound without any reference to the formalist rhetoric or French thinkers
>of the sixties. (Tho like Energized bunnies they do keep going and...)
>You might want to look also at.... Gotta take the daughter to school,
>back in a bit.
>Back! I was suggesting that you might want to translate words like:
>deconstructionism, constructionism, reconstructionism, and pluralism into
>more mundane equivalents and include the translated concepts in your
>research as well. As I drove Jason (my DAUGHTER) to school. I asked her
>about the words you list and got a typical teenage "Huh? As-if.." stare.
>When I got into the concepts underlying the words it became clear we were
>into familiar, if not assumed and therefore boring, territory.
>Deconstruction is easy. It shows up in any argument where there is
>an attempt to call on some authority. "That's not the ONLY way to look at
>it." can be followed by a litany of viable alternative perspectives which
>can reduce (deconstruct) any offered authority to meaninglessness. Kids
>seem to do better with deconstruction sometimes than academics BTW. I've
>noticed more than a few academic writers who attempt to use
>deconstruction to establish meaning. An intersting approach, but no more
>viable, to my mind, than any other method of establishing or constructing
>meaning. (DOES meaning "mean" anything? ;)
>Constructionism/constructivism seems to be grasped in connection with
>pluralism... the notion of multiple forms or levels of reality is often
>taken as a given. There are, as my daughter pointed out, realms of
>"factual" reality where rocks are hard and realities where our
>interpretations are real enough for us even if not for someone else.
>construction via interpretation.
>So, what are your criteria here for a "good studies"? Mine are admittedly
>odd and counter-academic. I actually like anecdotal stuff as well as work
>where uncertainty prevails. Postmodern, from my point of view.
>Well, time to take the son to the doctor! Busy day
>take care...
>On Thu, 20 Mar 1997, AKing wrote:
>> ....I was wondering if there were any good studies to check out
>> about teens' ability to understand postmodern modes of thought, postmodern
>> art & postmodern art criticism. Specifically, anything about teens' grasp of
>> deconstructionism, constructionism, reconstructionism, pluralism, etc.
>> thanks...
>> Alison King
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>> Teaching Matters, Inc.
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Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art Education
dg09 (university e-mail in San Marcos)
dianegregory (home e-mail in Austin)

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