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Abstract

In his paper, "Cultural Studies, Composition, and Pedagogy," Mark Mullen argues that while much cultural studies work makes claims for the transformative powers of a radical educational agenda, such work is often, surprisingly, deeply resistant to a complex discussion of pedagogy. The response to Mary Louise Pratt's theory of the "contact zone" offers a useful case study in this regard, and indicates the way in feelgood narratives of student and teacher empowerment are only made possible by a refusal to analyze the classroom as a workplace. Reliance upon depictions of the classroom as essentially an empty space playing host to ideological battles imported from elsewhere obscures the complicity of teachers in the brute fact of the classroom as a mechanism for surplus extraction and conversion. The fear of pedagogy then, of a pedagogy that locates us fully as teaching subjects in a specific workplace at a particular historical juncture, is the fear of facing up to the profound irrelevance and inconsequentiality of the "political interventions" of the classroom, or, worse, the way in which critical, scholarly, and artistic and activist challenges to hegemony are continually called into question or, perhaps, undermined by an ongoing participation in everyday workplaces of humanities instruction.

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