UC Berkeley Graduate Student Ramsey McGlazer Receives 2014 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce the selection of Ramsey McGlazer for the 2014 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship. Ramsey is pursuing his PhD in Comparative Literature along with a Designated Emphasis (DE) in Critical Theory. McGlazer’s dissertation on “counter-progressive pedagogy” is briefly described:

Ramsey McGlazer’s dissertation, tentatively titled In the Place of Abandonment: The Poetics of Counter-Progressive Pedagogy, identifies a literary and cinematic history that represents an alternative, within the modernist period, to the more commonly held Liberal and Left view of the modern as a forward movement of history defined as progress. Considering works by Pascoli, Pater, Joyce, Pasolini, and Rocha, the dissertation locates a modernist counter-tradition whose didacticism allows or even compels us to rethink progressive education as something other than an unqualified good.

In and beyond the Italian context that the dissertation takes as its point of departure, progressive educational reformers dismissed older and more traditional methods of instruction as backward, mechanical, empty, unproductive, and, most emphatically, “dead.” In contrast, the figures at the center of McGlazer’s inquiry tried, without denying their deadness, to set these very methods to work, so that precisely what looked like instruction’s retrograde traditionalism might produce other possibilities for thought. Thus, written in Latin; learned by heart; making the pensum, or the punitive copying-out of text, into a literary form; or otherwise corporally punishing: the works that McGlazer examines all turn to instruction in order to counter standard, modern-progressive understandings of history, and to contest key aspects of the politics that these understandings entail. These works also profoundly complicate the notions of biological and cultural reproduction on which the relevant theories of progress and progressive education rely.  Giving up on the liberal and ostensibly liberating, as well as the life-giving, promises of progress, the poetics of what McGlazer calls “counter-progressive pedagogy” instead inherits and imparts the bad education also known as instruction, but it does so, McGlazer argues, to enabling and even radically democratic effect.

The Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship is awarded to a single Critical Theory DE graduate student with a record of achievement and promising dissertation projects. The 2014 fellowship in the amount of $36,000 supports a stipend, fees, and summer funds. It is generous provided by The Sidney and Margaret Ancker Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities through the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences, Division of Arts and Humanities.

The annual fellowship is open to Critical Theory students in UC Berkeley Departments including Anthropology, Boalt Law School, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Ethnic Studies, Film and Media, French, Gender and Women’s Studies, German, Geography, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric, School of Education, School of Public Health, Sociology, Spanish, and Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.