More Advice! – Science as Spectacle

Posted: April 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

Nice to hear from you. I’m glad you’re thinking about your final, and along very sensible lines. Either of the authors you mention would be great for psychology majors, and for the reasons you indicate. So, really, the choice is up to you. De Beauvoir, I should point out, while not on the Psychology list of greatest hits, nevertheless might somewhere appear on someone’s syllabus. Meanwhile, Brecht might be preferable because he is even further off the beaten path. But, again, choose whichever of the two you prefer.

My more specific observations are as follows. De Beauvoir would indeed help to open up a discussion on the value not of various mediums, but rather multiple disciples in psychological research. In a word, investigating psychology merely from the perspective of positivist scientific method may well be entirely insufficient, when dealing with either marginal or normative patients. Recall that one of de Beauvoir’s primary contentions is that transcendence (human subjectivity) cannot be reduced to immanence (the physical body as understood by modern mechanist science), though women throughout modern society suffer from Man’s attempt to do just that.

If you were to write on Brecht, on the other hand, you would be able to explore his notion of ‘estrangement’, or alienation. While most persons on the Left consider alienation to be an entirely bad thing, Brecht seems to suggest that it is one of the necessary preconditions of critique. Brecht’s writing explore the value of estranging an audience from theatrical presentations, so that they can understand how acting and direction method and stagecraft serve to create a manipulate the viewer. In response to general ‘absorption’ of audiences with respect a staged spectacle, Brecht calls for a kind of theater which is overtly theoretical. Audiences don’t simply watch individual productions, but when going to the theater they are made actively to study the institution of theater itself. Here, you could say that students ought, beyond learning simply current psychological and laboratory research method, students should learn to theorize or critique established methods and research practices. I see in a now of fields that students are taught merely to do science, but not to think about how and why science is done it. Your paper might make a valuable contribution in that regard.

I’ll leave it at that for now. But let me repeat my earlier observation that these texts are well-chosen and you are understanding them correctly. Good luck as you move forward!

Brian K.

  1. Colin Hancock says:

    Thank you! I’m having a bit of writer’s block and this helped a ton. Looking into “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting” now.

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