Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Before the firing squad

On Monday it was my turn to face the music. There's something slightly uncomfortable sitting in front of a class of about 25. all of whom have read your paper and are about to tear it to shreds.

Yes, it was my day in front of the Government Department's first year seminar.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I expected. No-on took great issue with the main thrust of my argument, of the relative differences between moderate and radical branches of the Left, and 'open' and 'closed' notions of each. That was reassuring. Instead I was hauled out on questions of methodology, structure of the chapter and (from the one or two Latin Americanists in the room) concerns about labels. For example, should I have hsed the term 'Latin America' when much of what I was describing was really Southern Cone? Why had I excluded the Sandinistas from this discussion about the Left?

One or two people asked me about where education policy and reform sat in my thesis - it didn't seem to appear in my research questions. And I was asked why I wasn't considering textual analysis of textbooks or curricula. Short answer: because Left and Right tend to use the same language of 'building citizenship' and 'instilling knowledge'. It's what they think about these ideas that I want to get to.

And so an hour ended rather more quickly than I expected. Off to see my supervisor next Monday to go over the post-mortum.

Besides my session, Philippa Walker presented her work on 'Caring Justice': a political theory piece which seeks to combine a theory of justice within an ethical framework (I think). I'm afraid I'm rather hazy and uncomprehensing about much political theory, so I don't think I could do Philippa justice by trying to summarise her arguments.

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