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Performatives, Performativities and Education

Munday, Ian; (2011) Performatives, Performativities and Education. Doctoral thesis , Institute of Education, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis considers the various ways in which J.L. Austin's discussion of the performative utterance—of what is done with words and, indeed, of what words "do"—has been taken by philosophers. It shows how different understandings of the performative dimension of language can illuminate thinking about language and education. Austin notes that some (performative) utterances "do things" (such as "I christen this ship the..."). Certain kinds of utterance "perform" an action. What is particularly interesting about Austin's discovery is his conclusion that truth statements (what he calls "constative utterances") are, in different ways, also doing things. Despite the fact that the "ordinary language philosophy" with which Austin is particularly associated is normally understood as a development within analytic philosophy, his impact goes well beyond this, and his ideas have sometimes found themselves in some strange places. This brings us to the first appearance of "performativity", the term ""coined by French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard. First appearing in Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition, the term purports to describe the state of knowledge within postmodern society. For Lyotard, Enlightenment narratives have been replaced by an obsessive concern with "effectiveness". Here Austin's performative is used as a metaphor. The second treatment of the word "performativity" considered originates with Judith Butler. Butler argues that "truths" pertaining to gender are not "rooted" in anything other than linguistic performances. When reiterated, such truths come to be perceived as constitutive. The ideas pertaining to performatives mentioned above will be interspersed with other work on the performative utterance drawn from philosophy and social theory. Here I draw on the work of Habermas, Derrida and Cavell amongst others. The philosophical analysis provides the backdrop for a discussion of language, ethics and education.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Performatives, Performativities and Education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos...
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis: (PhD) University of London Institute of Education, 2011.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10020638
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