ERIC Number: EJ1033407
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: 15
"True Blood," a Critical Pedagogy of Conjuration, and Mediating Racial Histories in the Classroom
Pollard, Tyler J.
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v36 n2 p144-155 2014
The Texas Board of Education's sweeping approval of roughly one hundred changes to the social studies and history curriculum, a ban on so-called ''interpretive history'' in Florida, and a vitriolic campaign of book-banning in Arizona, indicate the extent to which American education and curriculum is currently under assault by a forced historical amnesia (Giroux 2012, 2013). In particular, the historically formative role that racial discrimination and violence have played in shaping the contemporary economic, cultural, and political landscape is being suppressed by a postracial and dehistoricizing cultural pedagogy. In this article, author Tyler J. Pollard contends that it is absolutely imperative that youth learn to live historically and politically in the present, and wagers that this learning can be cultivated in the classroom through the practice of what he is calling a "pedagogy of conjuration." Given the recent haunting of vampires, zombies, and other undead corporeal figures within the scene of contemporary popular culture, Pollard argues that a pedagogy of conjuration ought attend to those cultural sites that not only complicate categories of life and death, but also actively negotiate and legitimate how and on what terms particular events of the past should be remembered or forgotten. By engaging some contemporary theoretical work this article begins by discussing the colorblind and privatized way in which racism operates in America today. Next, Piollard suggests that Jacques Derrida's (2004) injunction that doing justice requires learning to conjure and live with ''ghosts''--with the traces of difficult pasts--offers a model for conceiving of history in the classroom. Finally, he looks at how HBO's hit TV show "True Blood" could be used as a productive site of historical conjuration and remembrance in the classroom by considering the public pedagogy the show produces around questions of race, and the generational relations between the past as a force that persists in haunting the present. To this end, he takes up the degree to which addressing popular cultural texts in the classroom, and doing so in a critical and self-reflective way, might enable meaningful and transformative experiences for students who are more accustomed to devouring popular culture in thoughtless and utterly consumptive ways as pure entertainment.
Descriptors: Critical Thinking, History, Political Issues, Racial Bias, Social Justice, Popular Culture, Television, Social Attitudes, Transformative Learning, Critical Theory
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A