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Title: Serious words for serious subjects : Stanley Cavell and the human voice in education
Author: Skilbeck, Adrian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 155X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis problematises education as a site of seriousness. It subjects notions of seriousness conventionally associated with education to critical scrutiny and subsequently goes beyond traditional distinctions of the serious and non-serious to reimagine seriousness in educational theory and practice. In liberal education, seriousness is understood in terms of developing rationality through theoretical activities that are underpinned by a concern for truth via the rigorous procedures of critical thinking. In progressive theory, seriousness is identified with purposeful, goal-oriented practices and procedures. Seriousness is thus associated with making earnest impersonal demands on the learner to which he or she responds accordingly. This, together with the view that what is personal is necessarily vulnerable to distortion and partiality, has placed limits on the first-person expression of seriousness within education. The thesis argues that seriousness is not only characterised by a responsiveness to demands for clarity but also the importance of having something to say. As such, we are already responsive in ourselves to demands for lucidity and coherence. Furthermore, seriousness emerges not only in our rational attention but in the play and possibilities of the human body. Our judgments and responses may take embodied rather than linguistic form. The key concept for elucidating this account of seriousness is Stanley Cavell’s theorisation of the human voice. Through critical readings of Cavell, as well as Raimond Gaita, J.L. Austin, Derrida and Wittgenstein, the thesis brings together ideas of seriousness and voice in terms of what is personal and impersonal. It draws on drama education for an understanding of how personal and impersonal notions of seriousness are located within artistic practice and aesthetic judgment, opening the way for a richer sense of first-person expression that gives weight to the playful and non-serious alongside the serious.
Supervisor: Standish, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available