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A Symposium in honour of Roger Simon
Apres Vous: Ethics, Pedagogy, Memory & Justice
Apres Vous: Ethics, Pedagogy, Memory & Justice
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picture of Roger

Apres Vous: Ethics, Pedagogy, Memory and Justice

A Symposium in Honour of Roger Simon

OISE/University of Toronto

Friday, 12th November 2010–Sunday, 14th November 2010

•••  Welcome  •••

This interdisciplinary conference is structured as a set of critical dialogues to investigate the intersections of ethics, pedagogy, memory and justice. The conference “Après Vous: Ethics, pedagogy, memory and justice” responds to Roger Simon’s interventions into these interconnected fields.  For over thirty years (1977-2010), Professor Simon has provided intellectual and scholarly leadership, stimulating dialogues across the themes of this conference, while building intellectual communities within and beyond the academy. Marking his retirement in 2010, the conference will bring together former and current students, Canadian and international colleagues who have collaborated or debated with Simon’s body of work, as well as scholars, cultural workers and artists with an interest in the questions he has raised. While his scholarship and teaching provide an anchor for the conference, participants are invited to address the distinct directions taken by their own scholarship as it has been influenced by Simon, or as it engages with and extends questions and insights in his work.

The four main areas of inquiry—ethics, pedagogy, historical memory and justice—outlined in the conference title, broadly organize the themes of the conference. These themes confront the participating scholars, who will address the conceptual challenges and possibilities they face in their scholarly projects and discuss the ways in which their work follows and continues to press, contest, amend and extend the limits of Simon’s remarkable thought.

This conference addresses the critical juncture in which we believe educational scholarship finds itself a decade into the 21st century: weakened by the instrumental, performative ends of neoliberal capitalist agendas (Apple, 2006; Giroux, 2005); unable to come to terms with the aftermath of legacies of mass violence massively restructuring global relations according to new and dehumanizing categories of class, gender and race (Britzman, 2001; Rizvi, 2007; Walcott, 2001); and disconnected from foundational knowledge and political regimes in the midst of a totalizing globalization of ideas and thoughts (Kincheloe, 2006; Lather, 2009; Young, 1991). Education, defined by Simon (1991) as a moving constellation of competing ethical, pedagogical and aesthetic demands, is beset with the task of making sense of our times and social and historical relations. The scholars, teachers, students, artists and cultural critics attending this conference are all working to address the current demands and threats posed to thinking and to justice, by using creative, empirical, theoretical and/or artistic approaches to tackle old social and educational problems and conflicts in new times (Scott, 2005).

Established and emerging scholars in attendance at this conference engage diverse and connected fields of scholarly inquiry. Some participants have been writing for decades about the possibilities and limitations of education for intervening in inequitable regimes of power, social organization and knowledge. Critical education scholars and cultural workers attend to both concrete and less discernible dimensions of human existence, analyzing processes ranging from the production of social inequality to subject formation to forms of social interaction that lead to the formation and privileging of particular kinds of knowledge and modes of thinking. At the same time they interrogate and destabilize notions of how we come to learn and think. The knowledge produced and disseminated from this conference will contribute understandings and experimental methodologies of interest to an international body of scholars searching for new ways to understand complex and difficult times.

Simon’s work has inspired, provoked and supported a large number of highly acclaimed established scholars and encouraged a promising group of interdisciplinary education scholars. United by the remarkable scope of his thought, they, along with artists, students and cultural workers, will gather at this conference to think creatively and critically about the enduring questions put forth by Simon (1991) twenty years ago in his groundbreaking book, Teaching Against the Grain: Texts for a pedagogy of possibility. This book continues to challenge subsequent generations of critical scholars to imagine and ask what education can do in troubled times. Scholars at this conference will address the enduring question put forth in this work: How can critical thinking and dialogue support the imaging of possible futures for self and other? How might such work contribute to an engaged public ethically, socially and politically committed to horizons of justice yet to be?

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