IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Cultivating slowness as contemplative practice

17 January 2024, 5:30 pm–7:15 pm

Open book on table. Image: Artis Kančs via Unsplash

In the seminar “Cultivating slowness as contemplative practice: literature, (dis)enchantment and the modern university”, Alison M. Brady will discuss the value of humanities and the slow, contemplative spaces that are increasingly threatened in the modern university.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Yuxin Su


Room C3.15
IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society
20 Bedford Way

When asked to justify its existence in the university, those defending the study of literature often focus on its unique role in cultivating criticality. But this overlooks other dimensions of reading literature, such as the ways in which reading can arouse a state of full immersion through deep enchantment with the text. It seems we lack the capacity to articulate this – to say what it means to really read something beyond the extraction of arguments, to attend to the luminosity of words ‘being what they are’ (Sontag, 1966).

Turning to Lotaria in Calvino’s (1992) If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, I argue that aside from the logic of efficiency and distance found in critical forms of interpretation, there is a value in enabling slowness in the classroom, which I discuss in reference to Felski, Macé and the early work of Sartre. Ultimately, whilst the humanities must be defended, so too should those slow, contemplative spaces that are increasingly threatened in the modern university.  

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in philosophy of education, literature and their role in higher education.

PESGB seminar series

This event is part of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) seminar series. PESGB is a learned society that promotes the study, teaching and application of philosophy of education. Its London Branch hosts seminars every Wednesday in conjunction with the Centre for Philosophy of Education. These seminars are led by national and international scholars in the field, covering a wide range of issues of educational and philosophical concern.

All are welcome to attend.

Related links

About the Speaker

Dr Alison M. Brady

Lecturer at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society

Alison M. Brady is a Lecturer at the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. She is the author of the 2023 monograph Being a Teacher: In Conversation with Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Chair of the Phenomenology and Existentialism SIG at the Philosophy of Education Society in North America. Dr Brady writes on the intersection of literature, philosophy, and education, and her forthcoming book (Education and the Existential Novel, Routledge, 2025) will look at how education can be re-imagined through an exploration of existentialist novels. Having recently contributed to the forthcoming JOPE suite of papers on Post-Critical Approaches to Educational Research, she is particularly interested in post-critical renderings of the practices and 'uses' of literature in education.

More about Dr Alison M. Brady