_Transforming Notions of Space in the Computer Classroom_

Postmodernism has been described by Fredric Jameson as being marked by, among other things, a spatial turn (1991, 154). This spacial turn works with and within considerations of historical and social theorizations of our being, a trio of terms that Edward Soja refers to as a “trialectics” (1996, 71). We can see conceptualizations of the spatial in the advent of terms such as “network” that arise out of the mediascape and computers, and become through a mechanism of psychical inversion metaphors to describe our lived experience of the world (see Zizek 1993, 43-44). The network is a term of extension that moves beyond notions of hierarchy and enclosure, indicating its drive towards a state of being open-ended that would still yet remain connected to all the other nodes. Jameson writes that the work of Hans Haacke itself creates a sort of allusive network, transforming the “space” of the work to include the museum, its network of trustees, their affiliations with multinational corporations, and even the global system of transnational capitalism (1991, 158). The computer classroom can be understood as a new kind of pedagogic space, despite how it has largely been utilized, if not recuperated, across established notions of the traditional, hierarchically structured classroom. Through the technological mediation of the computer terminal qua gateway, the computer classroom is literally networked into multiple and discontinuous information nodes and systems. These would extend from the wired connections of the information propagated on the World Wide Web to the muliple social-political connections that produce, organize, and situate us in a larger totality. The computer classroom can be read spatially to reveal particular ideological orientations, from the concrete level of specific patterns of arrangement that reinforce traditional notions of the student-teacher relationship; to considerations of how race, class, gender, capital, law, virtuality, technology, and a host of other possible categories, manifest themselves in terms of spatiality as well as the historical. To theorize pedagogical space is to textualize the varied meanings that the built environment brings presence. It is to re/create the conceived, perceived, and lived space of materialized social practice (see Lefebvre 1991). My paper will attempt to bring a concern for the spatial into theorizations of the computer classroom that would allow us to think this space in a manner that would be otherwise, seeking new attempts to grabble both critically and creatively with the social production of social space. My goal will be not only to invoke a spacially oriented critical apparatus, but also to create the conditions of possibility for a thirding-as-othering that would work towards re-including what resists and disrupts pedagogic order.

Presenter: Thomas Rickert


Target Audience: Advanced

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