Q.A.Q.?

Book chapter


Cheeseman, M. 2021. Q.A.Q.? in: McCrory, M. and Heywood, S. (ed.) Strategies of Silence: Reflections on the Practice and Pedagogy of Creative Writing London Routledge. pp. 143–170
AuthorsCheeseman, M.
EditorsMcCrory, M. and Heywood, S.
Abstract

This chapter is a critical meditation on The child’s guide to knowledge, a book first published in 1825 and reprinted many times throughout the nineteenth century as the work of ‘A lady’. As a catechism, the text is structured as a series of questions and answers that were deployed as a script in schooling young people. The ‘catechistic method’ is critiqued by way of writers discussing eighteenth and nineteenth century poets and novelists, particularly Charles Dickens.

Like any scripted interaction, the question and answer format can be characterised as a means of conjuring a response. To what extent this is ventriloquism and to what extent this invites subversion is discussed. Because The child’s guide to knowledge is concerned with teaching children ‘common-place subjects’ that adults already know (such as where saffron is grown, or whether the Romans prized eels), the text is discussed in terms of Antonio Gramsci’s formulation of common sense. This is contrasted with the Foucauldian reading of discourse, which leads to a discussion of the catechistic method in terms of education, discipline and voice. In doing so, the chapter considers Ansgar Allen’s (2014) characterisation of education as wearing a benign mask over its complicity with power and violence. In its scripted, mutable nature, The child’s guide to knowledge is posited as another nineteenth-century precursor to digitality to those already mentioned in Seb Franklin’s (2015) Control.

The chapter details references to The child’s guide to knowledge in works by Ezra Pound and James Joyce. This leads to a discussion of the chapter’s themes and ideas in relation to creative writing pedagogy, with particular reference to writing prompts. This is also compared to social media and William Burroughs’ notion of language as a virus. The conclusion considers the means by which The child’s guide to knowledge both breaks and forms silence.

Allen, A. (2014) Benign violence: education in and beyond the age of reason, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Franklin, Seb (2015) Control, digitality as cultural logic Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

KeywordsCultural theory; Creative writing; Literary criticism; History; Pedagogy
Page range143–170
Year2021
Book titleStrategies of Silence: Reflections on the Practice and Pedagogy of Creative Writing
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationLondon
Edition1st
ISBN9780367467630
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003030911
Web address (URL)https://www.routledge.com/Strategies-of-Silence-Reflections-on-the-Practice-and-Pedagogy-of-Creative/McCrory-Heywood/p/book/9780367467630
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Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online26 Feb 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Apr 2023
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