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Threads and Fingerprints: Partial and Entangled Readings and Writings of Place

Sat, April 29, 2:45 to 4:15pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Floor: Meeting Room Level, Room 221 C


Objective/Purpose: With this work we take the stance that buildings/spaces are texts that can be read in multiple ways for multiple purposes (Whyte, 2006) and thereby constitute a facet of literacy. These questions, informed by posthumanist theories, guide our work: How do buildings yearn, remember, feel, converse? How might we read learning spaces differently if we understand our engagement as a human-nonhuman assemblage?

Perspective/Theoretical Framework: Ellsworth (2005) writes of “anomalous places of learning,” those “peculiar, irregular, abnormal, or difficult to classify” (p. 5) locations that disturb taken-for-granted understandings of knowledge, knowledge production, and educational practices. She posits that in such spaces, learning bodies “fray” and notions of identities become undone (p. 70). In this project, we acknowledge the never un-frayed and always undone boundaries of learners intra-acting (Barad, 2007) within anomalous learning sites. In particular, we consider the spaces such as museums and other cultural locations where learning is experienced outside of school.

Modes of Inquiry: As we interact through this project with spaces, buildings, and texts, we consider “interfering and resonating desires distributed across the social [and material] bod[ies] ¬– across different people, practices, and disciplines such as art, performance, architecture, museum exhibition, and public events” (Ellsworth, 2005, p. 28). In these spaces, we collect, note, gather, and consider fragments and shards through journaling, photography, and collage.

Objects and Materials: Our inquiry incorporates journal entries, uncreative writing (see Goldsmith, 2011), and manipulated photography to play on materiality through the use of mixed media collage and appropriated artistic methods.

Results: Working with our experiences at a museum, historical site, and memorial, we present how people/spaces/buildings act as human-nonhuman assemblages. In these spaces, “[m]atter feels, converses, suffers, desires, yearns, and remembers.”(Barad, qtd. in Dolphijn & van der Tuin, 2012, p. 59). To demonstrate this, our poster presentation will enact a textual site in which participants are invited to experience meaning as matter (Barad, 2007) by engaging in texts that are “simultaneously material and representational” (van der Tuin & Dolphijn, 2010).

Scientific or Scholarly Significance: This project questions taken-for-granted understandings of knowledge, knowledge production, and educational practices, and frays long held notions of identity. For us, this questioning and fraying is an ethical move that allows reconceptualizations of sites of learning, learners, and their interactions.