Resurrecting the Aesthetic: Re-Imagining Pedagogy and Curricula in Contemporary English Teaching

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Shay, Peter Warren (2021) Resurrecting the Aesthetic: Re-Imagining Pedagogy and Curricula in Contemporary English Teaching. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study follows a trajectory that explores the ideological changes in policy and praxis in the English curriculum. Education policies increasingly reproduce contemporary epistemic ideology focused on the marketisation of education. This has led to the practice of a hermeneutics where students are constructed within the educational simulacrum of the market economy and emerge as ‘student warriors’ — students who stand at the forefront of an economic battlefield, serving the nation’s global standing in the complex wars, rivalries and aspirations that traverse the entire space connected with the Programme for International Student Assessment. This investigation questions the policy structures and inherent neoliberal tenets that have shaped, and are shaping, educational praxis, especially regarding the teaching of English. Previous studies have examined how neoliberalism generally affects educational policies and education, but they have not provided much gravitas when considering how this has specifically affected the subjectification of students. The production of democratic citizens is a fundamental task of education, yet this thesis argues that it is a process undermined by the contemporary praxis which subverts students’ subjectification offered by aesthetic literary critique. When core curriculum represses social, cultural, and ongoing self-reflexive critique and retreats from a critical and vigilant form of ethical self, then, democracy is imperilled. Crucial pedagogical elements in teaching remain a cornerstone of effective democracies. Critiquing the narrow order of knowledge acquisition in the arena of standardised testing and the negative market impact on students’ subjectification, this thesis calls for a reimagining of an aesthetic education. This is a site that privileges a more vigorous and healthier pedagogical arena where self-reflexive intelligibility and technologies of the student-self can re-emerge together with a deeper foundation and investment in literature at all levels of schooling. In this regard, the thesis adumbrates the socially necessary steps for an ethical democratisation of society.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords English curriculum; policy; education; Foucauldian approach
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