Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IN-PERSON IAS Talking Points Seminar: 'Marxist Pedagogy in the Scenographic Cube'

26 May 2022, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


Screening and lecture with Dr Nicolas Helm-Grovas (IAS). Respondents: Professor Steve Edwards (Birkbeck) and Dr Hans Demeyer (SELCS)

This event is free.

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Forum
Ground floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
United Kingdom

This seminar begins from two film examples on either side of the 1970s. First, the ‘blackboard films’ made by Jean-Luc Godard, in various collaborative configurations (notably with Jean-Pierre Gorin), at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. These works sought, in Serge Daney’s words, to ‘transform the scenographic cube into a classroom … and the film-maker into a schoolmaster, tutor or supervisor’. Second, En rachâchant, a 1982 film by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub based on a story by Marguerite Duras, which dramatises a conversation in a classroom between a schoolmaster, parents and a young boy who doesn’t want to go to school ‘because at school they teach me things I don’t know’.

Taking a cue from Daney’s writing, this talk will index the films to the antagonistic positions, pivoting on the subject of pedagogy, of Marxist theorists Louis Althusser and Jacques Rancière. Rancière writes in his significantly titled Althusser’s Lesson (1974) that ‘Althusserianism is a theory of education’, one centred on the ‘authority of professors’. Much of Rancière’s project afterwards investigates the possibilities for radical learning while sternly criticising the figure of the teacher and the discourse of pedagogy. Unpacking this dispute in relation to these cinematic objects, the talk will ask whether there are models of political learning, cinematic or otherwise, that avoid the closures of Althusser and Rancière’s stances, which, although opposed, operate within the same conception of a hierarchical master-student relation. Can a critical (and pleasurable!) education be imagined beyond a closed circuit of indoctrination and stultification – as self-education, mutual teaching, collective learning and ‘engaged pedagogy’?


Dr Nicolas Helm-Grovas

(Visiting Research Fellow at the IAS)


Professor Steve Edwards

(Professor of the History & Theory of Photography, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck)

Dr Hans Demeyer

(Lecturer at SELCS)



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