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Dissonant Voices: Philosophy, Children's Literature, and Perfectionist Education
Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0298-3832
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Dissonanta röster : Filosofi, barnlitteratur och perfektionistisk pedagogik (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Dissonant Voices has a twofold aspiration. First, it is a philosophical treatment of everyday pedagogical interactions between children and their elders, between teachers and pupils. More specifically it is an exploration of the possibilities to go on with dissonant voices that interrupt established practices – our attunement – in behaviour, practice and thinking. Voices that are incomprehensible or expressions that are unacceptable, morally or otherwise. The text works on a tension between two inclinations: an inclination to wave off, discourage, or change an expression that is unacceptable or unintelligible; and an inclination to be tolerant and accept the dissonant expression as doing something worthwhile, but different.

The second aspiration is a philosophical engagement with children’s literature. Reading children’s literature becomes a form of philosophising, a way to explore the complexity of a range of philosophical issues. This turn to literature marks a dissatisfaction with what philosophy can accomplish through argumentation and what philosophy can do with a particular and limited set of concepts for a subject, such as ethics. It is a way to go beyond philosophising as the founding of theories that justify particular responses. The philosophy of dissonance and children’s literature becomes a way to destabilise justifications of our established practices and ways of interacting.

The philosophical investigations of dissonance are meant to make manifest the possibilities and risks of engaging in interactions beyond established agreement or attunements. Thinking of the dissonant voice as an expression beyond established practices calls for improvisation. Such improvisations become a perfectionist education where both the child and the elder, the teacher and the student, search for as yet unattained forms of interaction and take responsibility for every word and action of the interaction.

The investigation goes through a number of picture books and novels for children such as Harry Potter, Garmann’s Summer, and books by Shaun Tan, Astrid Lindgren and Dr. Seuss as well narratives by J.R.R. Tolkien, Henrik Ibsen, Jane Austen and Henry David Thoreau. These works of fiction are read in conversation with philosophical works of, and inspired by, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Stanley Cavell, their moral perfectionism and ordinary language philosophy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University , 2013. , 316 p.
Keyword [en]
Dissonance, Philosophy, Education, Perfectionism, Children's Literature, Childhood, Cavell, Wittgenstein
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-19216ISBN: 978-91-7447-719-1OAI: diva2:850759
Public defence
2013-10-07, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-09-02 Created: 2015-09-02 Last updated: 2015-09-02Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, Viktor

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