Tufts English Graduate Organization Conference – October 2003
Jane Gallop argues, “when the possibility of intellectual communion arises in contacts with real flesh-and-blood people, the excitement and the connection can turn explicitly sexual” (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. I examine the effects of these contacts both in terms of productivity and in terms of anxiety. “All desire arises from a lack,” writes Dylan Evans in his definition of anxiety, “and anxiety arises when this lack is itself lacking” (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 “lack of the lack” (of knowledge) (Evans 12). Pedagogy that pushes, plays with, and crosses the boundary of what Litvak has called “the proscenium arch that invisibly but no less stringently organizes the pedagogical space” (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, “call me a deconstructionist if you like, but personally I don’t take rhetorical gestures as frosting spread on top of thought; I take rhetoric to be the very place where thought happens” (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.