Professorial lecture: Vicky Gunn
The Glasgow School of Art

Event Type:

The GSA Public Lecture


Reid Auditorium, Reid Building, The Glasgow School of Art, 164 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RF


10 Mar 2016
18:00 - 19:00



UM HSL: Anatomy Exhibit
Anatomy exhibit courtesy rosefirerising, Flickr.

Professorial lecture: Vicky Gunn

Event info

Professorial lecture: Vicky Gunn
Reid Auditorium
Thursday 10 March

Desire, Ambiguity, and Learning in Higher Education

For those of us with a need to control uncertainty, the Enlightenment offered a perfect intellectual platform from which to do so (Nowotny, 2016).  Hope in reason rose, gained power, and displaced superstitions and emotional messiness.  Unfortunately, that platform, centred on a particular method of reason, has come under increasing scrutiny by academics in the Arts and Humanities over the last half century.  As the boundaries of knowledge and meaning-making have been extended, Enlightenment reason has been found increasingly wanting.  The scholarly mind is being pushed back into the messiness of the body at the same time as assumptions about knowledge once considered universal are down-graded to Western localisms.  As artists have perhaps always known, the mind triumphant seems unstable.  Both desire and ambiguity have crept back into discussions about reason, offering the creative Arts as well as history, philosophy, and theology new opportunities to influence society.    

This talk centres on desire, ambiguity, and learning in higher education as an example of this trend.  It will argue that the body cannot be separated from learning just as ambiguity cannot be controlled if educators want learning that grows wisdom.  It sees efforts to control desire and ambiguity as part of an investment in the possibility of certainty offered by certain methods of reason.  It suggests that this hope needs to expand to embrace a wider range of methods at the same time as reintegrating the body, aesthetics, and making into what it means to be engaged in higher learning.