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ERIC Number: EJ1390494
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2023
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
EISSN: EISSN-1556-3022
Ah Bartleby! Study, Learning, and Pedagogy in Occupy Wall Street
Webb, Darren
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v45 n3 p285-309 2023
On October 26, 2011, a post appeared on the Occupy Wall Street Library blog titled "I would prefer not to." The constant refrain of Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" became one of Occupy's defining mottos, appearing on placards, T-shirts, and tote bags. The phrase became so symbolic that it was used on the posters promoting the general strike called for May 2012. Bartleby's mode of passive resistance has been theorized extensively. His appropriation by OWS has been the source of much theorizing too. What I want to do in this paper is use Bartleby as a useful analogy for exploring the educational logic of Occupy Wall Street. While some read a dangerous and threatening "Bartlebyan inscrutability" into OWS's various refusals (the refusal to issue demands, to address questions of political ontology, to specify conditions of success), I argue instead that the performativity of Bartleby's refusal helps cast light on the need for pedagogical intervention in moments and movements of utopian rupture. The very indeterminacy of study as a mode of educational being within OWS--of "preferring not to" actualize potential, adopt a political subjectivity, elucidate any determinate ends--created a vacuum that precluded the movement from learning from itself. The oscillating state of permanent suspension, in which the utopian possibilities contained within the movement were held im-potential, led to paralysis and neglect. In contrast to the "weak" utopianism ascribed to OWS by Tyson Lewis, I conclude the paper by calling for a "strong" utopianism conceived as a collective endeavor and iterative process but one within which pedagogical organization plays a crucial facilitating role.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A