Avant-Garde Pedagogies Conference 2016

AGPFriday 8th and Saturday 9th July 2016, University of Westminster, London

Hosted by the Higher Education and Theory (HEAT) network, the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (University of Westminster) and the Philosophy of Education Research Centre (University of Winchester)

The conference is intended to provide an interdisciplinary forum for addressing how we might respond to the contemporary crisis or transformation of education without succumbing to conservative nostalgia for the past or an uncritical acquiescence to present forces in an increasingly corporately-driven agenda. The concept of the avant-garde will be used as a lens to focus these discussions.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed a series of social, political, economic and technological upheavals that transformed aesthetics and contributed to a sense of the crisis of the arts and culture. While the technical developments of photography, radio and film, increasing commodification, the emergence of the culture industry and the rise of kitsch, mass and popular culture produced tensions within art that lead to a reactionary nostalgia for the culture of the past they also gave rise to a period of intense artistic innovation and experimentation that has come to be associated with modernism and the avant-garde. The avant-garde is ‘not that which is most historically advanced in the sense that it has most history behind it’ but, as Peter Osborne suggests, that which ‘disrupts the linear time-consciousness of progress in such a way as to enable us, like the child, to “discover the new anew” and, along with it, the possibility of a better future’. It is ‘the aesthetic anticipation of the future’ (Jacques Rancière) and sought to be not a ‘display case or a salesroom but a free, or least an open, laboratory’ (Poggioli Renato).

A hundred years on from the frenetic flurry of movements and manifestoes that characterized the high point of modernism and the avant-garde in art, this conference turns it attention to comparable experimentation in pedagogical theory and practice, asking how we might imagine a pedagogic anticipation of the future or an open laboratory of learning. How might such modernist or avant-garde impulses in the arts provide a framework for calling into question not merely traditional or bourgeois pedagogical ideas, techniques and the distribution apparatus upon which education depends, but perhaps also the dominance and assumed value of higher education itself within contemporary society?

Conference Schedule


1.15pm – Registration (Foyer, 309 Regent Street)

1.30pm – Panel 1 (Room UG04, chair: Matthew Charles)

–          Alan Golding, University of Louisville, ‘“Poetic Ambition on the Semester System”: Ezra Pound’s Avant-Gardism and Teaching Institutions’

–          Michael Kindellan, University of Sheffield, ‘Charles Olson’s pedagogical poetics’

3.00pm – Panel 2 (Room UG04, chair: Steven Cranfield)

–          Kerstin Stutterheim, Bournemouth University, ‘Die Idee der Methode: Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus pedagogy’

–          Allan Parsons, University of Westminster, ‘You are Here Now: Design is (not) Dasein’

4.15pm – Coffee & Tea (Room 201)

4.30pm – Panel 3 (Room UG04, chair: Emile Bojesen)

–         Aislinn O’Donnell, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, ‘How Things Teach Us: Experience and Experimentation in Spinoza’

–         First day closing remarks: Emile Bojesen, University of Winchester

5.45pm – Drinks reception (Room 152-3)


10.00am – Coffee and Tea (Room 152-3, 309 Regent Street)

10.15am – Panel 4 (Room UG04, chair: Steven Cranfield)

–          Zlatina Nikolova, Royal Holloway, ‘Development of the Self: Women’s education in Bryher’s Early Prose’

–          Maria Teresa Cruz, New University of Libson (NOVA), ‘Avant-garde and Experimentation in the Age of Hyper Industrialization of Culture’

11.45am – Panel 5 (Room UG04, chair: Emile Bojesen)

–          Richard Miles, Leeds College of Art, ‘The School of the Damned: Autonomous Art education and the University Struggles’

–          Jonathan Clark and Louise Jackson, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Title tbc

1.00pm – Lunch for Speakers (Room 152-3)

2.00pm – Panel 6 (Room UG04, chair: Allan Parsons)

–          Hannah Proctor, Birkbeck, University of London, ‘Educating the Vanguard: Soviet Developmental Psychology and the Paradoxes of Revolutionary Childhood, 1917-1936’

–          Steven Cranfield, University of Westminster, ‘“Battles for the mind”: military psychiatry and pedagogic innovation in the ‘Cambridge English’ School

3.30pm – Panel 7 (Room UG04, chair: Emile Bojesen)

–          Alys Moody, Macquarie University, ‘Learning with Brecht and Coetzee’

–          Gary Peters, York St John University, ‘The Music Teacher: The Pedagogy(s) of 20th Century Avant-garde Music’

4.45pm – Coffee and Tea Break (Room 152-3)

5.00pm – Panel 8 (Room UG04, chair: Matthew Charles)

–          Peter Roberts, University of Canterbury, NZ, ‘Doubt, Despair and Education’

–         Second day closing remarks: Matthew Charles, HEAT & University of Westminster

6.30pm – Conference Ends

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