About Us

Radical Pedagogies: A Humanities Teaching Forum

The first of its kind in the country, this learning and teaching forum was designed to radically re-address and re-think humanities teaching in higher education. The two day interdisciplinary forum brought together lecturers, staff and students from various stages of their careers and studies to critically reflect on current practice, and propose innovative and experimental new approaches to teaching in the 21st century.    

Although pedagogical theory has undergone significant transformation in past decades, this is rarely enacted in either the lecture theatre or the seminar room. The forum sought to remedy this division, by bringing together education specialists and lecturers to discuss pedagogical theory and praxis, as well as introduce new and exciting teaching and learning possibilities.    

The forum was designed to be highly participative, promoting the dissemination and exchange of ideas in a variety of formats. Our aspiration for the event was to inject radical new imagination and tenacity into humanities teaching in HE. It did not take a traditional conference format, as all forum participants were encouraged to actively engage in activities, workshops and discussions.    

Dr Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary University of London

Abstract for Shahidha Bari's Keynote Address:
'The Art of an Education'

“One of the paradoxes of education” explained James Baldwin, in his “Talk to Teachers” in 1963, is that “precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society.”  This paper reflects on the various ways in which writers, thinkers, artists and educators have understood the purpose of an education, tracking both the noble ambitions and the faulty realities that underpin our understanding of the modern university complex.

The first part of this lecture focuses particularly on the place of the arts and humanities in public life, and asks, in the aftermath of austerity and in an age of apparent scepticism as to the value of expertise, how do we mount a defence for the value of an university education?  From the “structures of feeling” described by Raymond Williams to the “humanism and democratic criticism” exhorted by Edward Said, this lecture explores how the university has enabled, realised and failed the utopian promise of the arts and humanities.  It argues that the university serves as an essential counterweight to the logic of capital and the political ideologies of the state, but points too to its limitations and incapacitations.  If teaching entails, in the words Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “the uncoercive rearrangement of desires”, how do we teach best and by what measures of success?

Lastly, this lecture reflects on the future of the university in a hostile political landscape. It proposes that we turn our critical lens to the structural inequalities and hierarchies within, moving beyond narrow professional concerns so as to better envisage the university as a complex that is contingent on many forms of labour and inseparable from the communities that surround and support it.

Professor Richard Hall, De Montfort University, Leicester

Abstract for Richard Hall's Keynote Address 'Dismantling the Curriculum in Higher Education':

As higher education institutions in the global North are being subsumed and re-engineered under the law of value, pedagogic practices are increasingly framed by demands for quantification, identification and performance data. In part such demands reflect determinist narratives of employability and enterprise, which themselves form responses to and amplify narratives of competition, financialisation and marketisation. Yet this social tyranny of exchange-value is in dialectical struggle with the emotional and cognitive needs of academics and students for a curriculum based on humane values. Such struggles affect the labour of academics and students as they engage with by global socio-economic and socio-environmental crises, which can be expressed as a function of a broader crisis of social reproduction or sociability. 

In these contradictions it is increasingly clear that knowledge and learning are never for their own sake, and instead reproduce tensions between: first, activities and ways of being that are increasingly driven by a commodity-valuation rooted in the measurement of performance; and second, the ability for academics and students to respond to crises from inside the marketised-university. This highlights the restricted nature of autonomous activity or the realm of freedom, as opposed to the expanded nature of heteronomous activity or the realm of necessity. One outcome is a deepening sense of weltschmerz as a function of alienation.

In responding to these contradictions, it will be argued that both in understanding the relationship between the university and society, and in engaging with crises of sociability, revealing the on-going commodification of the curriculum is central. This enables us to discuss the possibility that an open curriculum rooted in ideas of mass intellectuality might enable new forms of social wealth to emerge in opposition to a curriculum for private/positional gain. One possible way to reframe this discussion is through the co-operative practices of movements seeking to de-colonise and reimagine both the institution and the curriculum. Such an exploration, rooted in the organising principles of the curriculum, asks educators to consider how their curriculum reproduces forms of colonisation. It is argued that such work enables a re-imagination of higher education that is rooted in an engaged and co-operative curriculum, with a focus on praxis.

Forum Programme

A group of attendees watching Professor Hall's keynote session on 'Dismantling the Curriculum'

Thursday 11th January 2018

9:55 – 10:00

Welcome from Claire Hurley & Tom Ritchie

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 1/2

10:00 – 11:00 Paula McElearney ‘What ‘Gives Life’ to Critical and Radical Pedagogies’       

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 1/2

Chaired by Kathleen M Quinlan

11:00 – 12:15 Panel Option One: BME Challenges 

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2

Dave Thomas  ‘Critical Race Theory (CRT): A framework for liberating learning, teaching, assessment and the curriculum in higher education’  

Chaired by Richard Hall 

11:00 -12:15 Panel Option Two: Pedagogical Consciousness  

Rutherford Seminar Room 4 

Kathleen M Quinlan ‘How Higher Education Feels: Commentaries on Poems that Illuminate Emotions in Learning and Teaching’   

Darren Webb  ‘To explore “the archaeology of consciousness” as an aspect of utopian pedagogy’   

Chaired by Sian Harris 

13:15 – 14:30  Panel Option One:       

The Student Journey

Rutherford Seminar Room 4

Geoff Bunn ‘The ‘Student Journey’, Power Relations and the Development of Agency’

Benjamin Poore 'Some Versions of Transition' 

Chaired by Lee-Ann Sequeira

13:15 – 14:30 Panel Option Two Experiential Teaching 

Reanne Crane ‘‘Going easy on names and notions’: An Education in Direct Experience and the Antidote to Dogma’   

Maria Kukhareva ‘Dramatising the learning experience: student engagement through student-led enquiry, emotional connection and subjectivity’    

Chaired by Darren Webb 

14:45 – 16:00 Panel Option One: Widening Participation 

Rutherford Seminar Room 4

Sheree Palmer  ‘How can I increase my impact as a teacher upon WP and BME students?’   

Lucy Watson ‘Intercultural Perspectives in EAP: Putting international   Students on the Map’

Chaired by Tom Ritchie

14:45 – 16:00 Panel Option Two:       Student Voices

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2

Claire Hurley joined by first-year undergraduate students from Queen Mary University: Fahima Begum, Heather O’Brien, Katie Wells & Chloe Richardson. 

16:00 – 17:00 Richard Hall Keynote Address 'Dismantling the Curriculum in Higher Education'

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 1

Chaired by Tom Ritchie

An image of a session discussing what inspires and motivates people to practice radical pedagogy

Friday 12th January 2018

9:45 – 10:45 

Lee-Ann Sequeira ‘The Problem with Silent Students – It’s You, Not Them’      

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 1/2

Chaired by Benjamin Poore 

10:45 – 12:00  Panel Option One: Tactile Learning   

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2

Laura Way  ‘A return to 'cutting and   sticking'...Punk Pedagogy and Zine Making in HE’        

Louisa Horner and Emma Wilkinson 

‘Flooding: An overwhelming approach to teaching 'messy Histories'’

Chaired by Shahidha Bari 

10:45 – 12:00 Panel Option Two 

Collaborative Learning

Rutherford Seminar Room 4

Madeline Worsley ‘Learning Partnership: Collaboratively embedding a model that   reinforces personal and professional development’

Catherine Bates & Kay Sidebottom

'Finding spaces to dance – collaboration   and co-production as a form of resistance'

Chaired by Malcolm Noble 

13:00 – 14:00 Shahidha Bari Keynote Address: ‘The Art of an Education’ (abstract at the bottom)

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 1

Chaired by Claire Hurley 

14:00 – 15:15  Panel Option One:       

'Co-operation, not competition:

Learning and teaching for the post-capitalist  economy'

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2

Chaired by Malcolm Noble &

Tracy Walsh 

14:00 – 15:15  Panel Option Two: 


Will Tattersdill ‘Assessment and Feedback – A Discussion’    

Rita Balestrini  ‘A teacher-learner collaborative appraisal of rubrics for performance based assessment in foreign languages’   

Chaired by Katja May  

15:30 – 16:30 Sian Harris ‘Connections and Reflections’     

Rutherford Lecture Theatre 2

Chaired by Maria Kukhareva