When: 20 May 2022, 18:00
Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square
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‘Student experience’ has become a ubiquitous term in the discourse of contemporary universities, yet its meaning remains opaque. In its most immediate (and positive) sense it denotes a holistic approach to education, one which spans from intellectual development to social and emotional life. In practice, however, it indicates customer satisfaction, which is reflected back at universities via their league table position and scores in student surveys. Taking the lead from the contemporary emphasis on this term, my research briefly retraces its philosophical history (Dewey, in particular) and its recent usage in its relationship to space. ‘Space’ here signifies both the physical configuration and location of university sites, as well as the panoply of social relations of production and reproduction adding up to educational processes. A key reference for my research will be the writings of the anarchist architect and pedagogue Giancarlo De Carlo. I will consider his critique of institutions in the aftermath of ‘68, his own understanding of pedagogic experience, his analyses of the impossibility of educational containment, and his attempt at establishing alternative educational projects permeating the entire city. Bringing his lessons to bear upon the present, I’ll advance a critique of the specific ways in which contemporary universities have been compressing space and experience, despite the proliferation of educational sites and the promotion of lifelong learning.

Luisa Lorenza Corna teaches at Middlesex University and she is a fellow at the Architecture Space and Society Centre of Birkbeck University. Her research interests include Marxism and theories of the city; art and architectural historiographies; and the influence of feminist epistemologies on histories and theories of art. She has written for various journals, amongst which, Parallax, Historical Materialism, Radical Philosophy, The Journal of Philosophy of Photography, Art Monthly, Texte Zur Kunst and Jacobin magazine.

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