An Aesthetic Education: Conceptualizing Education through Contemporary Artists and their Work
Bourke, Melanie Michelle
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This dissertation inquires into a theory of learning through an examination of the intersection of art and education. With the work of educational theorists who explore how art may call our attention to the conflicts and contradictions that reside in education, the dissertation asks how we might understand an education that requires intervention. Drawing upon Adorno’s philosophical theories of negativity and aesthetics and psychoanalytic theories, I suggest that an analysis of the relationship between art and education can be furthered through the study of contemporary artists and their works. The focus is on the visual and written works of Kara Walker, Christian Boltanski, and Roee Rosen. Three tensions are explored: 1) that education resides in the realm of both social discourse and psychical life; 2) that education is composed from its limitations and possibilities; and, 3) disruption in a theory of learning is both a necessity and a new problem. The dissertation argues that the relationship between art and education constitutes a theory of learning that is also a delicate balance between the disruption of conflicted conditions and the re-construction of new ideas. Further, it is a theory where learning cannot be anticipated, but instead only reported on in retrospect. Learning therefore involves the paradox that a possibility for new understandings comes at the risk of a failure to understand.