The Meaning and Practice of Dialogue: An Ethico-Onto-Epistemological Re-Reading and Exploration of Bakhtinian Dialogue
In this dissertation, I approach questions of classroom dialogue in ethico-onto-epistemological terms, that is, in terms of how interlocutors jointly co-author themselves, each other, and the world in more or less optimal ways. Drawing primarily on Bakhtin’s early ethical thought, which has been largely ignored in education research, I articulate a framework for attuning to the ethical “dimensions” of dialogue, namely answerability, responsiveness, and capacitation, which refer, respectively, to how we speak from our own unique perspective, attend and respond to the Other, and render the Other capable of further and better responses in the ongoing dialogue. I then use this framework to analyze, evaluate, and reimagine instances of classroom discussions about controversial and potentially polarizing issues which I facilitated. In the course of this analysis, I develop concepts such as “presencing,” a term that refers to the way interlocutors are not simply present but are “presenced” in particular ways in the process of responding to each other. I also consider how interlocutors’ responses are influenced by their various senses of the “genre” of classroom discussion, which can be in tension with each other. Ultimately, I argue that interlocutor’s “relational becoming” (i.e., how they presence and become presenced to each other) coevolves with their “generic becoming” (i.e., what they consider themselves to be doing together), and use these lenses to imagine how classroom discussions, teacher responses to student comments in particular, might change in order to afford more ethical relations.