Theses Doctoral

Fastened from the Start: Inquiry and the Poetics of Attention

Scanlon, Patrick James

This dissertation is focused on a particular event at the heart of educational inquiry: the composition of attention — its catalogue of shapes and movements, and the manner in which it gathers and disperses. There are two major foci for my project: The first part, The Composition of Attention, is a historical survey that seeks to identify the circumstances comprising the Copernican revolution, what is arguably the most significant instance of inquiry in human history. This extraordinary set of events put in question not only the structure of the universe, but also the structure of inquiry. There were a host of methodological considerations at stake, not simply a set of new astronomical facts. Given the fact that this movement from a geocentric orientation to a heliocentric one has been subject caricature, distortion, and omission, my study seeks to trace how these unfortunate themes have, not only permeated the inception of compulsory education, but how many have come to remain permanent features, however implicit. The second focus, The Attention of Composition, explores the constituent elements of attention in their capacity to organize the scene of inquiry, be it a semester long research project, a writing assignment bound by the scope of one class period, or even more pedestrian moments of perception: i.e., the thought-feelings that occur while descending the stairs to exit the apartment. In each of these scenes the components of attention are activated, and as such can alert one to the particular habits of attention operative in other educational events. Although there has been a substantial increase in, shall we say, our attention to attention, given the difficulties of student achievement across a variety of contexts, there exists little consideration of it in the moments of its emergence, and under the auspices of language. This project designates five elements in the structure of inquiry—subject, language, object, aim, and method—that are studied according to four respective disciplines. Each discipline, or type of attention, addresses a pair of elements: Pedagogy – method and aim; Economy – aim and object; Poetics – object and language; Psychoanalysis – language and subject. The doubling of these elements for each style of attention is reflective of the Keplerian revelation of the function of planetary orbits.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Vinz, Ruth
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2018