Tufts English Graduate Organization Conference â€“ October 2003
Jane Gallop argues, â€œwhen the possibility of intellectual communion arises in contacts with real flesh-and-blood people, the excitement and the connection can turn explicitly sexualâ€ (Gallop 1997 83). The locations in which the intellect and the body intersect include the academic conference (the location Gallop describes), the classroom, and the faculty office.Â I examine the effects of these contacts both in terms of productivity and in terms of anxiety. â€œAll desire arises from a lack,â€ writes Dylan Evans in his definition of anxiety, â€œand anxiety arises when this lack is itself lackingâ€ (Evans 12). The student approaches the pedagogical situation motivated by a perception that the professor has what the student lacks: knowledge; to the extent that the irruption of the sexual into the scene of learning produces learning, the anxiety produced by this irruption might be figured as the â€œlack of the lackâ€ (of knowledge) (Evans 12). Pedagogy that pushes, plays with, and crosses the boundary of what Litvak has called â€œthe proscenium arch that invisibly but no less stringently organizes the pedagogical spaceâ€ (Litvak 24), creates anxiety and makes possible not only a transfer of knowledge, but also alters knowledge, alters people, and changes lives. In taking this approach to pedagogy, I am using the approach articulated by Gallop, who writes, â€œcall me a deconstructionist if you like, but personally I donâ€™t take rhetorical gestures as frosting spread on top of thought; I take rhetoric to be the very place where thought happensâ€ (Gallop 2002 138). If the importance of rhetoric might be re-figured as the following: how something is said is at least as important as what is said, then I suggest by analogy that pedagogy argues that how something is taught is at least as important as what is taught.