Issue n° 26

Opening, Roger Pouivet

Novel : The invitation, Claude Simon

A question raised by most of Claude Simon’work is: what does the subject matter of history consist in? Th answer is – roughly – in ruins, in fossils. This is why his writing is partly reminiscent of photography – which freezes and fixes its images. In 1986 he took part with fourteen western celebrities (including Arthur Miller, James Baldwin and Peter Ustinov) in an international forum in Frunze, in Soviet Kirghizia. The following pages are extracts from the account he wrote of this ‘invitation’.

Notion : The museum, Alain Vergnioux (University of Caen)

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the modern idea of museum became detached from its religious origins (in ecclesiastical treasure) and its private origins (in cabinets devoted to curiosities) and became a public, democratic space intended to provide access to works of art to as many people as possible. But the way it operates shows it has more complex functions, to do with conservation, collecting, specialisation, education, etc. Questions arise about its survival, involvement in exhibitions, and perhaps about its merging with postmodern forms of artistic production and display.

Report: Transmission

Presentation, Brigitte Frelat-Kahn (IUFM of Paris) and Graciela Frigerio (University of Buenos-Aires)

Transmission, transfer, education – pieces from an impossible puzzle, Graciela Frigerio (University of Buenos-Aires)

For Graciela Frigerio transmission processes can only be conceived in a fragmentary way. For several reasons. Their identification mechanisms are always limited, atomistic. Symbolic exchanges are uncertain in their content and operate in mysterious, dream-like ways: one gives away what one does not possess, receives what has not been given, bestows one’s love on a ‘bad’ person and in the light of inappropriate encounters. Transmission is thus seen to contain an accumulation of mistakes and adjustments within an impossible puzzle.

Transmission and the constitution of subjects, Laurence Cornu (IUFM Poitou-Charente)

Transmission is key to teaching activity, but, despite this, pedagogical thinking today has turned its back on the idea of transmission, in which it sees lack of symmetry and mere repetition, in favour of the idea of construction. But transmission is not the communication and transfer of information; it is the passing on not so much of content as of meanings and of questions posed about subjects, subjects operating within the rules of language with all its defects and frustrations. The regimented types of transmission found in today’s educational institutions do not measure up to this. What is important for Laurence Cornu is recognising the symbolic and constitutive value of pedagogical interactions and their nature as gifts.

Film and experience, Pierre-Damien Huyghe (University of Paris I)

Education must both transmit meanings and orientations and also allow discontinuity – the experience of a ‘breach’, of an untimely decision – at the risk of making things too disruptive. There would be an educational crisis, a crisis of transmission, if the relationship between public space and private existence proved wanting, if opportunities for narrative accounts of human experience were denied by sheer volume of information (the world’s news), if socialisation became the slave of immediate external stimulation and were no longer motivated by reflectiveness and openness. The author follows Walter Benjamin in seeing in film a symptom of (or a metaphor for) this situation. Film operates in bursts and short sequences. It requires unreflective attention and points to a new dimension of personal responsibility.

Transmission problems in the democratic state, Pierre Statius (IUFM of Franche-Comté)

The ‘classical’ prerequisites of transmission (continuity across generations and certainty about uptake) are no longer found, in the author’s opinion, in the democratic state. He draws on Péguy’s analysis of modernity and stresses that, from one point of view, modernity is defined by contrast with culture. Under what conditions, then, would a democratic education be possible? Dewey’s writings have helpful suggestions to make on this.

Authority and transmission in pedagogy, Gabriela Dicker (University of General Sarmiento)

This essay looks at the conditions under which pedagogical knowledge is constituted and transmitted. How does it originate? On what is its legitimacy based? The author shows that although pedagogical knowledge springs from the knowledge and experience of teachers themselves, its authority comes from a ‘higher’ source, whether teacher training institutions or the state which is responsible for training, appointments, and – via its inspectorate – for professional practice. Teachers can only enjoy their authority as pedagogical specialists via the legitimacy which the state bestows on them. Questions arise at this point about salary arrangements, since these should not only provide teachers with a living but also underpin their intellectual status. Once teachers are no longer in charge of the production and management of pedagogical knowledge, an unbridgeable gulf is created between practitioners and researchers, between theory and practice.

Transmission and exile, Norma Barbagelata (University of Entre Rios)

Transmission is the basis of culture and of the existence of human societies. Guaranteeing their persistence through time requires continuity and love, but death and separation bring with them discontinuity and mourning. The author examines two features of Argentine history and culture. In a long term perspective, exile and uprootedness are key to national identity; in recent times the issue which has been with us from the time of dictatorship of the ‘disappeared’ – those not known to be dead or alive – touches in a tragic way on the problem of belonging. In both cases, it is hard to envisage a form of transmission which has to include ’emptiness’ or ‘absence’ as constitutive features.

Transmission: between forgetting and remembering, past and future, Mariana Karol (University of Buenos-Aires)

The main prerequisites of transmission are both forgetting interpersonal history and subjectively constituting it. The passage from one generation to the next – the latter’s inheritance – faces two obstacles: repetition and/or emptiness of meaning. The essay shows that transmission is successful only if it can embody a narrative which can take up the narcissistic biography of the subject and place it within a public space of meanings open to the future.

Correspondence : Louis Lambert, Balzac and the philosopher in the city, Scheherezade Pinilla Cañadas (University of Madrid)

In Louis Lambert Balzac seeks to present ‘thought’ itself in novel form. He does this via a philosopher, his personal quest and search for the absolute; as well as via a city, Paris, ‘the capital of thought’. His depiction of the character Victor Cousin raises questions about the relationship between philosophy and the state, the status of the professoriate, the authority of the academy; but by the light of the hero’s search for truth, V. Cousin’s eclecticism is shown to be no more than facile rhetoric. In the Comédie Humaine, Balzac presents truth about human nature in a concrete form. He rejects the notion of philosophy as a system and replaces it by a vision of philosophy as a ‘maze’ and as creator or re-creator of the world. He accords Louis Lambert only one aim in life: thought for thought’s sake. Other characters from the Comédie Humaine are given the task of owning and changing the world.