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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bildung

I guess I realized that I am really a follower of Gadamer. Even though his name does not appear in Apocryphal Lorca. The more I read him, and about him, the more it resonates with me. My concept of the scholarly base, for example, could be a version of Gadamer's Bildung. Some commentators say that we shouldn't identify this Bildung with any particular German bourgeois educational idea tied to a particular place or time. It is a theoretical concept that transcends its particular horizon, in classic Gadamerian fashion. Bildung is culture, development, formation, transformation, self-fashioning. It is related to the concept of receptivity, or the willingness to grow in response to one's response to the "other." I oppose scholarship that merely follows academic proceduralism to produce technically "acceptable" results (Gerald Graff).

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Its reverse would be "reeducation," or the imposition of false consciousness, the alienation of oneself from one's own work, one's own Bildung.

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Not coincidentally, Clarissa's dissertation was on the Bildungroman. Not a surprising topic for someone with her own Bildung to work on. How did a Ukrainian autistic woman knowing no Spanish get where she is today, a Professor of Spanish in the American mid-west? You couldn't invent a novel with that plot.

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Having a solid formation in graduate school is part of the Bildung, but only part. I realize that this post is a draft for the first lecture of my theory course. Aha! Theory is not about a tool-box of technical terms, but about scholarly Bildung or self-fashioning.

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I realize, too, that my scholarly community this semester consists of the readers of my blog, especially those who comment like Olga, Thomas, Leslie, and, maybe less frequently, Andrew Shields. These people, like me, are involved in transformative scholarly self-fashioning every day. I'm not even going to talk about Wittgenstein's Bilden.

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The way I engage in my own Bildung, every day, is by reading and writing scholarship. So writing this blog is not less important: it is my daily dose self-reflexivity. (As if I wasn't enough meta already!).