Useless articles: English and instrumentalism

Chair: Benjamin Poore, Queen Mary UL


Rebecca Pohl, Manchester, ‘What’s the point? Teaching difficulties’

Iain Bailey, Perse School, ‘Employability and the discipline of English literature’

JT Welsch, York, ‘Making words work: Employability & Creative Writing’

A universal basic income in the technologized, labour-reduced near future could, according to Paul Mason, incentivise work while at the same time creating more space for “not working” – or in other words, “[to] look after your kids, write poetry, go back to college, manage your chronic illness or peer-educate others like you” (2015: 285). The study and production of literary texts may have a place in the post-work utopia, but in the meantime all the old questions about value and utility remain as pressing as ever. Indeed, the competing instrumental goals of different actors in UK education (the state, semi-autonomous institutions, employees, students) dominate recent policy debates and initiatives, from academisation to the so-called employability agenda. This panel explores the resulting tensions from a pedagogical perspective, weighing the need to challenge students against the various services university teachers are now expected to provide.

Wednesday 5th July, 3.30