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Loose Lips and Groping Hands: A Concise History of Transference and Pedagogy.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Hager Oueslati
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal for Cultural Research
Issue number1
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)15-39
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The loose definition of “a hostile learning environment” has been used since the beginning of the 1980s through the 1990s in different ways and different contexts to file sexual harassment complaints against faculty. The article explains how this was paralleled by the emergence of extensive research in the scholarship of education to redefine a “pure pedagogy” more suited to the managerial role of the corporate university. At the same time, another literature described the sexual harassment laws as an assault on pedagogy and saw in their excessive implementation a hidden agenda to dismantle the University’s “triangulation” of knowledge, desire and power. Until the late 1990s, this debate remained largely limited to and contained within the university. The argument between the defenders of a “transferential pedagogy” and the advocates of “pure pedagogy” took a new turn against the crisis in authority which characterized the 1990s especially after the Clinton–Lewinsky affair became public. Further developments in the States after 9/11 raised the question of academic freedom as a pressing concern. The “hostile learning environment” thesis is now used to name and shame “un-American” academics in the realm of new media outside, campuses and beyond the scope of scholarship. The University’s role is structured within this move from “discipline” to “control” and from the symbolic authority of the law to governance. The article stresses these connections as essential for any debate on the educational dimension of the post-pedagogical University.