‘Comfort’ & ‘Discomfort’
A Brechtian Intervention in Teaching Space & Practice
This paper disrupts notions of ‘comfort’ as always being a desirable product when attending to spatial contexts and teaching practice. The paper draws on a long theatrical tradition stemming from the work of Bertolt Brecht which, amongst other things, seeks to stimulate critical thought not by making the audience comfortable but by creating a sense of ‘discomfort’ through alienation and other techniques. I bring this together with work on ‘critical pedagogy’, which attends to occasions when ‘discomfort’ provides a powerful teaching tool and with anthropological ideas that seek to draw more embodied engagements with ethnography into classroom and lecture contexts. The paper takes a reflexive approach to these interventions, evaluating not only the successes but also problems and challenges that the use of ‘discomfort’ raises and engages with broader discussions of critical pedagogy and teaching practice.
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