Last week's workshop on Unhoming Pedagogies, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), was, as one of the presenters and Principal Investigator Dr Natalie Pollard from the University of put it, “an exciting confluence of the experimental, the experiential and the provisional. It was inspiring to see so many people from across the disciplines - including Education, Literature, Health Sciences, Dance and Drama - as well as creative practitioners, teachers and students coming together in a spirit of dynamic participation and exploratory engagement with unhoming and uncanny materials and practices”. Natalie is lecturer in Modernist and Contemporary Literature at the University of Exeter and she had invitedAssociate Professor in Education Studies, Dr Joanna Haynes Plymouth to collaboratively activate diverse and engaged responses and interactions to a series of provocations.
Thirty people, including three young children, engaged multimodally with Paula Rego animistic unhoming nursery rhymes and uncanny post-age picturebooks by cutting, pasting, drawing, knotting and creating. They also watched and listened to Caroline Bergvall’s :Drift (https://vimeo.com/86554191) and accepted the invitation to go outside and drift by not following a straight line (like this text), “uncertain in its uncertainty…”
The event was hosted by the Critical Posthumanism and Postqualitative research hub at the School of Education at UCT. Since 2014, Profs Karin Murris and Vivienne Bozalek from UWC, host a weekly reading group every Thursday afternoon as part of research projects funded by the NRF (see e.g. https://www.decolonizingchildhood.org/reading-group). This reading group is open to all interested.
Workshop participants commented:
“Joanna Haynes raised awareness on the censoring of uncomfortable spaces i.e. how we don’t explore anger, violence or sex with children because they are considered inappropriate, ugly or frightening. With this in mind we then explored words and ideas in nursery rhymes - a seemingly child-friendly space which turned out to be astonishingly inappropriate in today’s woke world. We moved on to Paula’s Rego’s pluriartmaking practices which are multiple-use, fluid spaces where the human is decentred, binaries collapse, and terror confronted with humour. Rego sees working as a way of bringing justice and doing justice to complexity. We then set to with materials and created responses rather than representations of what we had heard.
Natalie Pollard showed us the negative and positive connotations embedded in 'travelling' words e.g. going forward, on the road to progress, going backwards or in circles, getting lost. And yet to learn means to explore i.e. to get lost, and to go around in circles. The critical question asked is ‘How do we disrupt, unhook, see differently the things we tend to accept without really seeing what is usually said/seen/done’. One way is to unhome through poetry and looking at word in new ways.”
“Joanna Haynes and Natalie Pollard took us on a journey through selected children’s literature and contemporary performance poetry, creating a space for participants to experience.
Story: Professor Karin Murris
Images: Supplied by Karin Murris
Faculty of Humanities
University of Cape Town
Private Bag X3