Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Žižek, and the Return of the Subject (Pitt Comp Literacy Culture)
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Why are today's students not realizing their potential as critical thinkers? Although educators have, for two decades, incorporated contemporary cultural studies into the teaching of composition and rhetoric, many students lack the powers of self-expression that are crucial for effecting social change.
Acts of Enjoyment presents a critique of current pedagogies and introduces a psychoanalytical approach in teaching composition and rhetoric. Thomas Rickert builds upon the advances of cultural studies and its focus on societal trends and broadens this view by placing attention on the conscious and subconscious thought of the individual. By introducing the cultural theory work of Slavoj Zizek, Rickert seeks to encourage personal and social invention--rather than simply following a course of unity, equity, or consensus that is so prevalent in current writing instruction.
He argues that writing should not be treated as a simple skill, as a naïve self expression, or as a tool for personal advancement, but rather as a reflection of social and psychical forces, such as jouissance (enjoyment/sensual pleasure), desire, and fantasy-creating a more sophisticated, panoptic form. The goal of the psychoanalytical approach is to highlight the best pedagogical aspects of cultural studies to allow for well-rounded individual expression, ultimately providing the tools necessary to address larger issues of politics, popular culture, ideology, and social transformation.
seamless entities when in fact they are not. Just like the subject, the big Other is fissured. Thus, the perception that the Other is whole and plentiful is an elementary gesture of fantasy, and such fantasy is one of the mechanisms by which the subject defines itself in its ongoing, constitutive dialectic with the big Other. Especially crucial here is the way the communications triangle presents a model of reality that would efface this constitutive dependence in favor of relations between
poststructuralist understanding of discourse as opening up to free play and the endless semiosis of the sign, but Žižek wants to underscore how discursive consistency is necessary for constituting the subject’s basic sense of reality. This minimum of consistency, however, is phantasmatic; it is posited by a subject. The “supplement” that Žižek discusses is the element that stands in for the impossibility of the field’s consistency; what makes it “supplemental” is that it is excluded, or dropped,
scholar, Judith Goleman, mines similar territory using Althusser, although she emphasizes representation over the imaginary. She points out that an ideological structure is never seamless or whole but that through the procedures of effective, local critique, we can “historicize and demystify” an ideological apparatus, coming to know its effects on us (20). While such knowledge may be partial, Goleman assures us that we are sufficiently poised to “read” the ideological effects and their mechanisms
participates in this escape, therefore operates both inter106 �� politica phantasmagoria nally as personal adherence and externally as concrete practice, regardless of whether these two modalities are congruent. Furthermore, we see that belief is not a passive acceptance of ideas. Belief requires conscious and unconscious activity, which takes place internally and externally. As Žižek points out, the externalization of belief is not a new concept, and it has many different, extant forms:
possibility of resistance to this vertiginous “being caught up with” sexuation is thus a landmark. At the risk of oversimplification, we might say that Butler posits a radical constructivism and in so doing demonstrates that something like sexuation, no matter how pervasively and powerfully it shapes us, our world, and breaking the law �� 145 our interactions, can be deconstructed, or at least constructed otherwise (see Vasterling). Butler tells us plainly that while discourse is not the last