“Students Make History Every Day Just by Sitting on These Steps”: Performative Spaces and Re-Genring in the South
Students’ call for decolonising the curriculum has triggered deep reflection about what we teach and how we teach it, but equally, about the role of pedagogic spaces in recognising students as agents in their learning. This paper is situated within the field of academic literacies, where students’ engagement with texts is seen as being context-specific, and involving assertions of agency to various degrees. The added dimension here is the embedding of digital literacies, defined as a set of customised online practices, into a writing-intensive, first year, foundational course at a South African university, to favour the acquisition of academic literacies. The analysis of different spaces becomes crucial in grasping how innovative forms teaching and learning may take place. In his trialectics of space, Lefebvre distinguishes between perceived, conceived and lived spaces. Butler would refer to lived spaces as “performative” ones, “congealing” into form through iterative use. Online learning spaces may well turn into performative spaces as students inhabit them, interact with online resources and explore their spatial boundaries. I perform a discourse analysis of students’ textual practices on the online and physical spaces, to explore how students reproduce or subvert genre categories through processes of “re-genring.” Furthermore, I share the extent to which such pedagogic spaces become performative, the power dynamics that emerge, and their effects on our traditional conception of teaching and learning in higher education.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).