Professor Claims FELT Is Powerful Weapon to Battle White Supremacy

P. Gardner Goldsmith | August 6, 2018
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Want a great example of why it’s probably a good idea to separate school and state? Head to the University of Toronto, where an Associate Professor claims with about as much multisyllabic pseudo-intellectualism as possible that felt – yes, the fuzzy cloth, felt – helps break the cis-heteronormative, “White” (which, evidently, must be capitalized) colonialist supremacy.

An associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning (in other words, a typically left-leaning teachers’ college), Stephanie Springgay just published in the journal Studies in Philosophy and Education her gripping paper entitled,  “How to Write as Felt’: Touching Transmaterialities and More-Than-Human Intimacies.”

You read that right. Felt, and “Touching Transmaterialities.’

Ms. Springgay offers readers this wholly comprehensible, not-at-all-overwrought, entirely grammatical postmodernist overview in her Abstract (get ready, and, please read every word for full comedic effect):

In this paper, I invoke various matterings (sic) of felt in order to generate a practice of writing that engenders bodily difference that is affective, moving, and wooly. In attending to ‘how to write as felt,’ as a touching encounter, I consider how human and nonhuman matter composes (sic) (Haraway in Staying with the trouble (sic): making (sic) Kin in the Chthulucene, Duke University Press, Durham, 2016). This co-mingling that felt performs enacts what Alaimo (Bodily natures: science, environment, and the material self, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2010; Exposed: Environmental politics and pleasures in posthuman times, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2016) calls transcorporeality. Connecting felt with theories of touch and transcorporeality becomes a way to open up and re-configure different bodily imaginaries, both human and nonhuman, that are radically immanent (sic) and intensive; as an assemblage of forces and flows that open bodies to helices and trans connections (Springgay and Truman in Body Soc 23(4):27–58, 2017b). 


Other than the fact that she writes as if adding syllables is akin to elevating one's level of thought, Ms. Springgay’s opening is troubling on a couple of fronts. First, she actually combines postmodernist “Critical Theory” in literature (a practice in which writing can be interpreted to mean whatever the professor tells you it means – and usually for a political end) with identity politics, gender, and… felt.

Second, in her paper, she mentions other published “academic” papers that do similar things. This indicates that she isn’t alone, and that college funds (from Duke, Indiana University, University of Minnesota) have been showered on this kind of brain-piercing word-shrapnel.

Finally, one of the papers she refers to is a pseudo-scientific work of fiction by Donna Haraway that attempts to mix postmodernist critiques of capitalism with horror writer HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. Yes, that would be Cthulhu, the tentacled, supposed “Elder God” of primordial power who represents the uncaring face of cosmic infinity.

I am not making this up.

And, lest she be misunderstood through her sophistic and impenetrable language, Springgay makes her point clear the deeper one dives into the cesspool of her paper:

[T]his paper addresses ‘the problem of education’ that is predicated on cis-heteronormative White supremacist settler colonial logics that assume knowledge enters from an outside, that is predicated on progress, and that regulates and violently disavows particular bodies…

Totally clear. It’s “cis-heteronormative White supremacist settler colonial logics that assume knowledge from the ‘outside’” (whatever that is). And these “logics” even though plural, “is predicated” on progress, and “regulates and violently disavows particular bodies…” Because, you know, we have to make sure no verb ever matches a subject in this darned paper, we have to stress that these logics “disavow” certain kinds of human bodies… and we need to push the idea that “progress” is a “cis-heteronormative White supremacist” concept, rather than something most humans prefer over, say, death and decay.

Or is it the “outside” that is predicated on progress and regulates and violently disavows particular bodies?

Perhaps more from Ms. Springgay will clear this up:

Felting as a posthuman proposition demands that we stop thinking broadly about… education. Instead we need to consider intimate transmaterial touching relations that do not intensify settler colonial mastery over human and nonhuman life…


Essentially, what Springgay and the others are doing is attempting to pierce what they see as a “white supremacist, heteronormative, colonialist, capitalist” paradigm that they believe has controlled Western norms, especially writing and language, for centuries.

By comparing language to felt -- a material in which cells co-mingle so intimately that (in her view) they create new concepts of “touching” oneself (again, I am not making this up) -- Springgay believes mankind can shed itself of the old herteronormative, capitalistic, colonial linguistic control paradigm (capitalism and colonialism actually are disassociated by folks who understand economics, but she seems impervious to this understanding) and see mankind as the simple organic compound that it is.

In felting, wool fibres co-mingle and enmesh and evoke what Barad (2012) refers to as a queer self-touching. When we touch ourselves, she writes, we encounter an uncanny sense of the stranger or otherness within the self. Using quantum theory to shape a theory of self-touching, Barad explains how a particle touches itself, and then that touching subsequently touches itself, releasing an infinite chain of touching touches.

There you go! Totally comprehensible. Is it any wonder that Springgay, as Michael Jones explains for The College Fix, got a lot of money from government?

Springgay received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her felt research, she states in the paper. According to her curriculum vitae, Springgay has received $1,244,992 from the council since 2011 for research on various topics.

And is it any wonder why people want to separate government from all levels of so-called “education”? Who really has the control here? Is it the “White supremacist cis-heteronormative capitalists” or the state, shelling money from taxpayers into mentally fragile pseudo-scholarship like this?

We’d let you decide, but if you live in Canada, you can’t, because the government will take your money to pay her anyway.