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Curriculum as Community Building

The Poetics of Difference, Emergence, and Relationality


Liesa Griffin Smith

Our contemporary historical moment is often characterized by social, political, economic, technological, and educational complexities, as well as lived experiences of estrangement, isolation, insecurity, loss, threat, and trauma. Within this difficult context, conventional understandings of community which often rely upon assimilation or exclusion are devoid of hope, and new imaginations of community and community building are needed to cultivate generative, nurturing, sustaining experiences of life together. Through a multi-threaded exploration of the curriculum as embodied and emerging in a living ecosystem, new conceptualizations of community building may emerge. Drawing upon poststructural feminism, poetics, autobiography, and metaphors of the maternal body, this book explores the complicated intersections of difference, embodiment, emergence, and relationality within the curriculum, to reimagine the possibilities of building the other community, one inclusive of difference. Facing the challenges of our time with hope, grace, and creativity, this book is uniquely positioned in a middle space between the theoretical concerns of the academic community and the needs for accessibility by the practitioner within an instructional context.
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3. The Poetics of Difference


“The need for connection may establish another poetics, some day.”

(Kristeva, 2002, p. 233)

“I want to argue that metaphor is one of the chief agents of our moral nature, and thatthe more serious we are in life, the less we can do without it.” (Ozick, 1989, p. 270)

“If you want to change the world you have to change the metaphor.” (Campbell, 1988)

Ancient cultures around the globe have produced richly varied stories of the creation of the world and of humanity through narratives of weaver goddesses and spider women. These myths of creativity, construction, and cunning emerge in ancient Egypt, Japan, China, Greece, throughout Mesoamerica and in Native American cultures, as well as in Norse, Viking and early European cultures. While these narratives are astoundingly diverse, they all centralize the stories of women, even in the few cultures where men are historically known to be the more dominant weavers. Throughout this book I employ the metaphor of weaving in order to articulate a conceptual design within my theoretical exploration This metaphor suggests a carefully crafted textile made ←57 | 58→up of various threads that rise into view, fall away and become visible again throughout the seven chapters. My intention is that the weaving metaphor itself contributes to a sense of stability in the creative and discursive project I am undertaking by acting as the warp and weft, so to speak, on which I can tie, entwine, twist together and interweave...

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