HotAIR - MAY WE RECOMMEND-- When Not in Doubt, Problematize


When Not in Doubt, Problematize

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

A recent article in Salon Magazine alerted us to the concept of problematicization. (The article, by the way, is titled "Was Gatsby black? A professor says that only an African-American scholar could spot Fitzgerald's secret meaning.")

Problematicization can be of incalculable use to any scientist. Incalculable.

Prolematicization Defined

Author Elizabeth Manus explains the concept thusly:

In academia, reading a text in a new way is generally known as "problematizing" a text.

This technique can be applied to anything.

It offers exciting possibilities for scientists. Problematicization can be applied to anything that is generally accepted as being understood. The result: the subject is no longer understood. This creates an instant infinity of publishing opportunities.

Some Pleasing Examples of Problematicization

Here are some examples, scattered like glittering gold dust across the vast Internet. We will give just the titles, brief quotes, and links to these items. To appreciate the full richness, follow each link and savor, savor the vasty stew of problematicized ratiocination.

"Problematizing Projects" ... "For this essay, you will pose a question and explore alternative answers WITHOUT EVER ANSWERING THE QUESTION. This is the essence of problematizing.

""Problematizing Formalism: A Double-Cross of Genre Boundaries" ... "questions... whether the student... will know what to do with the excess of meaning the class has constructed through her text"

"Problematizing reifications and naturalizations out of focus..." ... "However, the conference, for all the strength of the individual speakers and panels, had serious problems with maintaining any overall focus."

"Writing Project #1: Problematizing" ... "Stay away from questions you can answer. There is not much point in exploring these questions."

"Problematizing Said's Exilic Category" ... "Although in many ways secularism is a useful organizing term for the radical intellectual's liminal mediation of social formations, Said's emphasis of an exilic, liminal category poses a number of potentially serious problems in its translation into the complicated process of collective social transformation."

"Evaluation and Supervision Problematizing Teaching" ... "This emerging view of knowledge in teacher education requires that theory as presented in the preservice program be treated as problematic, and that the cultural, social, political, and economic forces shaping various discourses be examining Theory, rather than construed as imposed, superior, and separated from practice, gives way to knowledge as constructed by those who practice."

"'Problematize' and Academic Discourse" ... "I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any articles that problematize the term choice within feminist rhetoric, as in reproductive choice. I'm looking for pieces that consider the language of choice and the implications of naming something a choice."

"Topics on Philosophy of Science" ... "Problematizing normal science (the revolutionary stance): Postmodernists reject metanarratives. Postmodernists champion the simultaneous availability of many different theoretical positions, and the importance of an over-present critical discussion of underlying assumptions."

"PROBLEMATIZING GEOPOLITICS: SURVEY, STATESMANSHIP AND STRATEGY" ... "In documenting this performative range of geopolitics, the paper problematizes the conditions of possibility which enable the production of geopolitics as knowledge generally."

"BORDERLESS WORLDS? PROBLEMATIZING DISCOURSES OF DETERRITORIALIZATION" ... "This paper seeks to problematize such discourses of deterritorialization in a general way by examining one of the more precise articulations of the phenomenon of deterritorialization, the so-called 'end of geography' in the domain of financial markets."

In Summary

As you can see, this technique offers many possibilities for reading, writing, inflation, promotion, and -- perhaps most significantly -- problematicization.

Our Advice

What, then, is our advice to the aspiring scientist? Boiled to its most problematic essence, this be expressed in five words: Go Ye Forth and Problematize.

This is a HotAIR exclusive article. For a complete list of the others, see What's New.