A Special Issue of Workplace on “Scholactivism”


Hoo-ee, this is one fistful of revolution you are holding in your hand right now. This is a live transmission from the wrecking crew. They are dynamiting the campus accumulation machine and sharing the video. They’re publishing inflammatory infographics and launching manifestos from the occupation. This is the full cookbook. Don’t read it. Unless you can handle the truth.


New article: The Playable University

A bunch of us wrote something for ephemera on a game we used to help players understand the university game (link):

Academics, students and other workers in the university are expected to play the ‘university game’ – which includes the playful work of protest and published critique. If there is already engagement with play-as-critique in the NLU, here we aim to explore play-as-agency. Play-as-agency relies on making room for a certain play, or ‘give’, in academic and administrative processes in the NLU, in order to reveal what the university might otherwise be.[2] This play allows for both the collective re-imagination and reconstruction of the rules of the university and ‘playful’ participation in university gatherings (meetings; courses and classes; orientation and training sessions, and so on). In particular, we ask about the value of games in the university, what games can tell us about the values of the university, and how the rules of the university game might be changed by playing it differently.

In the wake of the quake: Teaching the emergency

A new article by Stephen and me in Educational Philosophy and Theory:

The university today finds itself in a global state of emergency, at once financial, military and ecological. Teaching must assume this emergency as premise and responsibility: it must consider the grounds of the classroom, both figurative and literal, and generate emergent lines of inquiry that address the pressing global and local situation. For us, that means that teaching must take the university’s grounds of supposedly universal knowledge to be constitutively unstable and to require a reflexive teaching method that puts in question disciplinary fields and discursive modalities of knowledge. And it must take in the physical grounds of the university too—because local space is increasingly articulated by technocapital interests that are fully implicated in this global state of emergency. Thus, we do not seek stability amidst such turbulence, but rather a seismotic overturning of the grounds of the university or, rather, a returning to its ground, through the deepened sense of purpose and place that ‘teaching the emergency’ provides.

First 50 downloads free through this link.

The university as an infinite game: Revitalising activism in the academy

An article by Niki Harré, Barbara M Grant, Kirsten Locke and myself on academic activism in the Australian Universities’ Review (September 2017):

We offer here a metaphor of the university as an ‘infinite game’ in which we bring to life insight, imagination, and radical inclusion; and resist the ‘finite games’ that can lead us astray. We suggest that keeping the infinite game alive within universities is a much-needed form of academic activism. We offer four vignettes that explore this further: our responsibility to be ‘critic and conscience of society’ and how that responsibility must also turn inwards onto our own institution, the dilemmas of being a woman with leadership responsibilities in an institution that proudly shows off its ‘top girls’, the opportunities we have as teachers to ‘teach the university’ and be taught by our students, and the contradictions we face as activist scholars in our relentlessly audited research personas. We draw on the infinite/finite game metaphor, our own affective experiences as tenured academics, and feminist critiques.

Read it here.

From Aristotle to crime scene: A forensics of the academic essay

Another article in TEXT Journal, this one on academic writing …

Writing in the academy is almost always about making a claim, or ‘case’, based on evidence, as one does in court: its rhetoric is forensic (L. forensis ‘in open court, public’, from forum), in Aristotle’s sense. Just as forensic rhetoric takes as a given the laws of the polis and is directed at persuading a judge (Aristotle 1991: 80-82), academic writing assumes a set of rules (one must be sincere, demonstrate one’s argument using evidence, and obey a certain decorum) and is written to persuade an assessor, namely a teacher or peer. And, since the Harvard ‘forensic system’ of essay writing in the late 1870s (Russell 2002: 51-63), it has often been taught in the language of forensic rhetoric: in particular, the apocryphal ‘rhetorical triangle’ of persuasion by ethos, logos and pathos (Booth 1963; Kinneavy 1971) and the informal logic of the enthymeme (Toulmin 1958). At its best, academic writing provides a forum to animate and air ideas. As such, it is amenable to what Eyal Weizman calls forensis: ‘a critical practice’ that ‘interrogate[s] the relation between … fields and forums’ (Weizman 2014: 9; compare Braidotti 2013 on the ‘forensic turn’). For Weizman, a field is a ‘contested object or site [of investigation]’ and a forum is ‘the place where the results of an investigation are presented and contested’ (Ibid.). Where forensics allows objects like bodies, weapons and scenes to ‘speak’, forensis can give voice to sites like academic architecture (Sturm and Turner 2011), forms (McLean and Hoskin 1998) or even essays. Here I explore the academic essay as a forensic site, ‘an entry-point from which to reconstruct larger processes, events and social relations, conjunctions of actors and practices, structures and technologies’ of the academy (Weizman 2014: 18-19). The academic essay is at once a report on research, an argument, a fractal structure, a means of assessment and, as this essay will argue, an exemplar of and exercise in performativity (Sturm 2012).

New article on online learning ecologies with Susan Carter

Download here.

E-learning is not just a learning and teaching innovation; it also signals a shift in human cognition and communication. The lexicon of e-learning borrows from the barren lexicon of information science: of users, usage and usability, or of information-seeking and affordances. Deep e-learning requires a more fecund idiom, a new myth: of the digital agora, an e-learning ‘trading zone’. Here we reflect on the process of shaping an electronic version of our generic doctoral skills sessions, during which it occurred to us that, to match the benefits of interactivity in face-to-face teaching and learning and to be transformative of academic subjectivity, e-learning must be truly performative, rather than merely informative; e-learners (and e-teachers too) must enact the skills they hope to learn (or teach).

New article by Stephen and me rereading NZ creative educationalist Elwyn Richardson

Sturm, S., & Turner, S.F. (2015). The tyre-child in the early world. Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS.

In the Early World

The abstract:

This article considers the ‘creative education’ of influential Aotearoa/New Zealand art educator Elwyn Richardson, which is based on what he calls the ‘discovery method’: the ‘concentrated study of material from [students’] own surroundings’. Through a game that his students play with tyres, we explore the role that tools play in Richardson’s classroom and in the imaginary ‘worlding’ of his students’ play. By taking the ‘early world’ of the children’s development to be a product of the tools through which they describe it, we reveal Richardson’s educative process to be essentially technological. His idea of the whole child who emerges through a process of experience and observation – of ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’, in the well-known phrase of Wordsworth cited by Richardson – conflates the nature of the child and nature of the ‘natural’ world. By this act of ‘natural settlement’ not untypical of settler narratives in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the child’s – and, by implication, other settlers’ – relation to the world of nature is naturalized. Instead, we would argue that the child’s relation to nature is altogether unnatural: it is imprinted by the technological means through which she explores the world and makes it her own – and by which she is made over. The ‘tyre-child’ is no child of nature, but a child of technology (as every settler is a technological settler), for whom creative errors – acts of ‘mis-taking’ like the ones Richardson’s children make in playing with tyres – reveal an imaginary capacity at once theoretical and unsettling.

First fifty reads free for non-subscribers apparently at http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/KQuDv3esAIskrMgiiwkK/full