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Acts of Enjoyment

Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Zizek, and the Return of the Subject

Thomas Rickert
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    Acts of Enjoyment
    Book Description:

    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 Enjoymentpresents 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7323-2
    Subjects: Education, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Prospective
    (pp. 1-7)

    The ideas about cultural criticism, rhetoric, and psychoanalysis underpinning this book emerged from my use of cultural studies in composition courses. More specifically, they arose from problems with cultural critique in the classroom that called for further inquiry. Unfortunately, no eureka moment occurred that would provide a richly loaded scenario allowing me to encapsulate with ease and simplicity the primary issues of this book. But perhaps this is more appropriate since I place so much stock in the processes of “working through.” Indeed, “working through” is an accurate description of what brought these thoughts to mind. Sometime deep in the...

  2. 1 On Belatedness and the Return of the Subject; Or, The View from What Will Have Been
    (pp. 8-32)

    Perhaps it was inevitable that rhetoric and composition and cultural studies would eventually be combined. The explosion of work in the 1980s and early 1990s on poststructuralist and postmodern theory dovetailed with both the strong growth of rhetoric and composition and the development of cultural studies into a full-fledged interdisciplinary field. At the same time, books on postmodern theory proliferated, and arguments about postmodernism touched all areas of inquiry. From the perspective of this writing, however, it appears as if much of the earlier, more hyperbolic postmodern thought has run its course, at least in composition. Some radical ideas linger...

  3. 2 Toward a Neo-Lacanian Theory of Discourse
    (pp. 33-66)

    The study of discourse as it has emerged in the last fifty years is strikingly diverse and interdisciplinary. It includes, according to Deborah Schiffrin’s taxonomy, speech act theory, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnographies of communication, pragmatics, conversation analysis, and variationist discourse analysis (we could also add critical discourse analysis, narrative analysis, discursive psychology, and more) and ranges from philosophy to linguistics to anthropology, and everywhere in between (6–11; cf Jaworski and Coupland 14–35). Such a wide range of approaches indicates that the notion of discourse is itself quite broad. This may also suggest why discourse has emerged as a special...

  4. 3 In the Funhouse: Mirroring Subjects and Objects
    (pp. 67-96)

    Earlier, i proposed that subjectivity is temporal, meaning that it is constituted by the ongoing dynamics of retroactivity. Here I extend that discussion to include other forms of reflexivity pertaining to subjectivity as it emerges at the intersections of cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and rhetorical theory. I am especially interested in the ways poststructuralist accounts of subjectivity have been appropriated to politicize composition both in the classroom and as a discipline. Integral to these approaches is the idea that subjectivities are culturally produced, not naturally given, and that the production of subjectivities involves the deployment of power for social and political...

  5. 4 Politica Phantasmagoria: Ideology in Cultural Studies Rhetorics
    (pp. 97-137)

    Earlier i described a neo-Lacanian theory of discourse, arguing that it offers challenges to the communications triangle and the discursive models that work out of it, concluding with a brief explanation of the ways in which different discourse theories comprehend concepts, with “democracy” as an example. Neo-Aristotelian discourse theory sees a concept as something relatively stable to which positive features accrue, whereas poststructuralist theories, which emphasize the constitutive role of language, understand a concept as something unstable, prone at any time to unravel in endless semiosis. A neo-Lacanian theory of discourse, while it shares with poststructuralist theory an investment in...

  6. 5 Breaking the Law: Resistance and the Problem of Limits
    (pp. 138-159)

    The issue of resistance is still of great interest in English studies, and it shows up as a key topic in a good deal of work.¹ Pedagogical theory reflects this concern by undertaking the time-honored goal of making students critical thinkers. What critical pedagogues want resisted are the various forms of power that complicate the achievement of a pluralist, radical democracy and contribute directly to problems of injustice, oppression, and disenfranchisement. Oftentimes, what gets resisted is actually the teacher’s lesson as students opt for quietist, conformist positions legitimated by the dominant ideological narratives. Furthermore, as forms of cultural studies become...

  7. 6 “Hands Up! You’re Free”: Pedagogy, Affect, and Transformation
    (pp. 160-198)

    Cynicism and violence have come under increasing scrutiny by political agencies, the media, and educational organizations. According to Henry Giroux, if the professional pollsters are correct, we live in a “culture of cynicism” (“Cultural” 505). Associated with a postmodern sense of the futility of critique or of attempts to substantially change the world for the better, this pervasive cynicism undercuts collective and individual engagement in socio-political activity, reducing the investment necessary for sustained and vibrant public commitments.¹ Meanwhile, social violence and its media amplification are also perceived to be pressing issues requiring redress. Indeed, our “culture of cynicism” could as...

  8. Retrospective
    (pp. 199-214)

    In thinking about and working at the intersections of cultural studies, pedagogy, and psychoanalytic rhetoric, I want to make clear that such work should not be converted into a static hermeneutic framework. Freud was firm about this inThe Interpretation of Dreams. Although dreams produce symbols, and symbols can become cultural commonplaces, one should avoid falling into the trap of creating overly stable symbolic commonplaces. Our markets are stuffed with popular, self-help literature proffering watered-down Freudian dream analysis. Such books codify dream symbols into standard meanings and easy taxonomies. One looks up one’s dream or symbol, and voila, it is...