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Monday, April 1, 2013

Badiou, Foucault, Freire, Zizek: Steps Towards a Pedagogy of the Event

Vincenzo Di Nicola

Chapter in: Zizek and Education, edited by Antonio Garcia
Foreword by Creston Davis, Afterword by Slavoj Zizek
Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishing, "Transgressions: Cultural Studies and Education" Series, in press.


The author engages a group of critical thinkers and practitioners, from Boal and Freire to Derrida, Foucault and Agamben to Badiou, Lacan and Zizek, as steps towards a pedagogy of the event. A central aporia or problematic of pedagogy is posed as the paradox of authority versus novation. In much thinking and practice, pedagogy risks the traumatic transmission of authority. This is problematicized as authority as trauma.

The event is proposed as an alternative to such pedagogical trauma. The event in thinkers as diverse as Derrida, Lacan and Zizek has already occured and we are just repeating, substituting symptoms. This is an almost deterministic, structural view of the event. In Foucault, the event may be imagined as discourse, an articulation of dispositifs or apparatuses. In Agamben, the event is even more indeterminate, located in a zone of indifference, potentiality, beautifully described as porosity in Benjamin’s essay on Naples.

Badiou opens the ultimate possibility: an ontology based on the event, including the event defined in the broadest, least deterministic and most radically open way, giving way to novation. With this, we can imagine a pedagogy of the event. This is a Badiouian pedagogy. Without a theory of the event and of change, there can neither be the genuine transmission of knowledge nor the possibility of novation, new explorations of knowledge by bringing new things into the world.

A pedagogy that prepares us for novation and is open to the event which creates the possibilities of genuine subjects who are faithful to the event is a pedagogy of truth. A pedagogy of the event is a pedagogy of truth. Such a pedagogy will not invoke tradition as authority and traumatically shut down possibilities but will rather open possibilities, in what Badiou calls novation, to create a pedagogy of truth.

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