Posthuman Pedagogy: Affective Learning Encounters in Studio Art Practice

Sayal-Bennett, Amba. 2018. Posthuman Pedagogy: Affective Learning Encounters in Studio Art Practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The growing conceptual turn in UK tertiary-level art education has led to the increasing dematerialisation of the studio as a site for learning. This practice-based research responds to this context and advocates the primacy of the studio as a space for embodied experimentation. In contrast to the representational analyses prevalent in art historical discourse, I propose a new materialist reading of studio art practice to explore the transformative potentials of matter: specifically, how, by giving greater agency to materials, matter takes on a pedagogical role. Drawing on the work of Deleuze, Haraway, Barad and Hayles, I consider the prosthetic nature of art practice, and focus on the fluid boundaries of the artist-learner in the making process. I delineate how material agency operates within artistic assemblages to extend learner subjectivity, and suggest that the artist-learner experiences themselves as ‘other’ through affective intensities that traverse bodies in the artistic assemblage (both human and non-human). These encounters produce immanent learning experiences, as normative perceptions are challenged and new orientations affected. Artist-learners are therefore not discrete but entangled entities, and art practice, as a form of posthuman pedagogy, generates thought that is not exclusively human. This research offers a critical reappraisal of learning in a broader non-human context, where the non-human focus of this research considers how the materiality of learning becomes a core part of what is learnt and how the body becomes. The practices that I investigate can be understood as Critical Pedagogies, as they embrace embodied experience as a vital dimension of the learning process and bridge the gap between producers and consumers of knowledge. This investigation contributes to a field of research that aims to theorise more affective learning practices, and to critical discourse that focuses on the intra-action of cultural studies, art practice and education.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Practice-based research, posthumanism, affect, material agency, new materialism, contemporary art, embodied methods

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies > Centre for the Arts and Learning


30 June 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Aug 2018 13:07

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:13


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