Stupid, paranoid, wonderful: Staging non-knowledges in the pedagogical encounter

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    One premise of pedagogy is that the successful outcome of learning is knowledge. At the same time, and especially in performance teaching and training, there is a notion that the risk of failure offers a crucial freedom to the student. Without a safe space to fail, experimentation and innovation cannot occur. But if failure is success, what happens to critique and accountability? Must experimentation dissolve into toothless consensus? If there is value for performance pedagogy in the freedom to fail, there must be clarity about what failure is and does, and what it produces. We must think through the myriad non-knowledges that might be revealed through pedagogy and consider how these non-knowledges are performed. Many artists in recent years have staged pedagogical encounters in order to think through precisely these problems. The format of the performance lecture in particular has become nearly ubiquitous in festivals and symposia, but little has been written to account for the popularity of the form, much less the critical, philosophical and political problems these performers are working through. In this paper, I argue that an important impulse for many performance pedagogues is to critically examine and strategically produce non-knowledge. Further, I argue that non-knowledge must be thought in multiple categories, with various affective forces. I focus on the categories of stupidity, paranoia and wonder in order to demonstrate how non-knowledge operates not in direct opposition to knowledge, nor as an easily recuperable failsafe, but as independently articulable experience packed with its own problems and potentialities. The performance examples I consider (lectures, or lectures, by William PopeL., The Atlas Group and Aaron Williamson) contribute to a framework for thinking through failure and pedagogy without relying on an immediate recuperation of failure into some vague notion of process. Rather, this framework develops specific processes and concrete categories to account for the rich and shifting terrain of knowledge and non-knowledge as they operate in pedagogy. Finally, this paper figures performance as a guide to what is stupid, paranoid and wonderful about the pedagogical encounter.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-67
    Number of pages9
    JournalPerformance Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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