Digital “Wayfaring” in the Posthuman University
Abstract: Mainstream educational discourses tend to portray digital technologies and devices either as inert ‘tools’ at the fingertips of an implicitly neoliberal student subject, or alternatively as a force to be feared, and therefore ‘harnessed’. I will argue in this keynote that both of these views are problematic and inaccurate, leading to a collapse into utopian / dystopian binaries, and fantasies around digital ‘magic’ and the disembodied ‘user’. I will propose an alternative posthumanist reading of digital literacies which centres embodiment, materiality, mobilities, and spatiality into our understanding of emergent digital knowledge practices. Drawing on Tim Ingold’s concepts of the line and wayfaring, I will make a case for a different conception of digital knowledge practices in the digital university. This will be an interactive session involving reflective groupwork, and the implications of this analysis for policy, practice and research will be discussed. Bio: Lesley Gourlay is a Professor of Education in the department of Culture Communication and Media at UCL Institute of Education, London, where she served as Head of Department, 2014-2018. Her scholarship focuses on the interplay between technologies and the knowledge practices of students and academics, with a particular emphasis on textual practices and the digital. Her recent theoretical work has focused on sociomaterial and posthuman perspectives on engagement in the university, exploring themes of space, inscription, nonhuman agency, and digital media. She is a contributor to national and global debates surrounding digital literacy education, and serves on the editorial boards of several international higher education educational and technology journals. She has recently completed a new book Posthumanism and the Digital University: Bodies, Texts and Materialities, (Bloomsbury Academic, in press).