Fictions, diffractions and deconstructions

In his phd thesis (Intertextual turns in curriculum inquiry: fictions, diffractions and deconstructions) Patrick Gough explores a “methodology for curriculum inquiry” focussing on the “generativity of fiction in reading, writing and representing curriculum problems and issues”. In his introductory chapter he explains how he used the original version versus the director’s cut of the SF-film Blade Runner in his teaching as a means to give a meta-perspective on “our day to day comedies”:

“These differences between the two video versions of Blade Runner prompted me to think about how we ‘frame’ the other actors in the day-to-day comedies, dramas and soap operas in which we participate in schools and universities. What sense of ‘real’ life would we get if we ‘re-edited’ our perceptions of our students and peers and their interactions with one another and with their settings? What difference would it make to place some of the peripheral actors in our everyday lives at ‘centre screen’ (and vice versa)? More importantly, perhaps, how do the frames we put around actors get there? What cultural mechanisms are the equivalents of ‘pan and scan’ editing? How many of the people with whom we interact (students, colleagues, etc.) are surrounded by ‘dead space’ that we do not see. How can we put the material conditions of those who are marginalised and alienated by our perceptual editing processes onto the ‘screens’ of our visual imaginations?

Sharing these questions with students drew their attention to the significance of Le Guin’s (1989b) thoughts on narrative, as quoted in the opening of this chapter. By imagining ways in which they might ‘recut’ their autobiographical accounts, they recognised their stories as ‘active encounter[s] with the environment’, as fictions that do not ‘reflect… without distortion’ but instead offer ‘options and alternatives’ for enlarging (and perhaps improving upon) present realities. Such experiences reinforce my preference for focussing my (and my students’) intellectual efforts on taking responsibility for the fictions we choose to privilege rather than being diverted by unproductive struggles to distinguish between stories of the imagination and of ‘reality’.”

(Gough 2003: 55)

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