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[Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science
- From: David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:11:56 +1000
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One of the songs Cook's men must have sung here in Australia is “Heart of
Oak” (the hard center of the oak tree that keels were made of). In 1760, it
was part of an opera penned by the Shakespearean actor David Garrick (yes,
that David Garrick--pupil of Samuel Johnson, friend of William Hogarth).
The "wonderful year" it refers to was 1759--the battle for Quebec.
It is still sung as a kind of unofficial anthem in the Australian navy--you
sometimes hear it on Lady Beach, which is a nude beach much favoured by gay
people and sailors here in Sydney. You can see why--the first verse goes
Come, cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?
But it must have been sung with a more bitter shade of irony back in the
day. A lot of Cook’s sailors had been press-ganged, and in fact even when
Cook turned down an appointment as master to serve before the mast, his
destitute father was given a pension by the lord of the manor, and there is
some suspicion that his enlistment, which probably deterred the press gangs
from the lord's estate, might have had something to do with it.
Ruqaiya Hasan writes a lot about how bourgeois educational systems have
tried and failed to inculcate “glibspeak”, a faux-scientific register which
uses the abstract nominalizations of scientific language in order to blur
and obscure concrete realities. Here are two of her best hits on the
Hasan, R. (2003). Globalization, literacy, and ideology. World Englishes 22
Hasan, R. (2006). Literacy, pedagogy, and social change: directions from
Bernstein’s sociology. In Knowledge, Power, and Education Reform: Applying
the sociology of Basil Bernstein. R. Moore, M. Artnot, J. Beck, and H.
Daniels (eds). 211-241. London: Routledge.
Empirically, though, her most important work was the ten year survey she
did here in Australia that showed a recognizable difference in the way that
parents talked to preschoolers in working class families and the way that
parents talked to preschoolers in middle class ones—and a recognizable
similarity between the latter and the way that teachers talk to kids in
school. As Mike has pointed out, the “Polyphonic Autobiography” includes a
good account of the debate between Labov and Bernstein on this issue, but
for me it is essentially an empirical and not a political question, and
these studies settles it:
Hasan, R. (1991). Questions as a mode of learning in everyday talk. Language
Education, Interaction and Developm,ent: Proceedings of the International
Conference (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
Hasan, R. (2002). Semiotic mediation and mental development in pluralistic
societies: Some implications for tomorrow’s schooling. In Wells and Claxton
(eds). Learning for Life in the 21st Century, Blackwell: London.
Probably the best place to get this stuff is in her Collected Works:
Hasan, R. (2005). Language, Society, and Consciousness. London: Equinox.
(This contains her critical readings of Vygotsky.)
Hasan, R. (2009). Semantic Variation. London: Equinox. (These are where you
find the empirical studies.)
Hasan, R. (2011). Language and Education. London: Equinox. (These are the
There was also a good study by Marilyn Fleer and Mariane Hedegaard in MCA
back in 2010—we discussed it here:
But when I suggested that Marilyn’s and Mariane’s results were consistent
with Bernstein’s view of how some codes restrict working class children to
operating machinery and other codes are more consistent with criticizing or
reinforcing social structures, the suggestion was rejected for reasons I
have never really understood. Perhaps it has to do with the Labov/Bernstein
debate that the Polyphonic Autobiography of LCHC serves to
sociohistorically contextualize so well:
The Polyphonic Autobiography makes it clear that in the context of the “War
on Poverty” and the beginnings of the cultural wars, it was easy to miss
the point that Ruqaiya Hasan and Basil Bernstein were making. There’s a
difference between being able to express a complex idea in complex
DISCOURSE (as a child does when arguing with a parent) and being able to
express it in complex GRAMMAR, just as there is a difference between being
able to express a complex idea in complex grammar (as an older child does
in telling a story) and being able to express it in complex vocabulary (as
we see at university). Because human life and leisure are both finite,
there is a real difference in the meaning potential of these different
modes of expression.
Yes, the POTENTIAL meaning potential of all human languages is equal—that
is, all human languages will EVENTUALLY be able to express the whole of the
relevant experience of their speakers, and since humans are equal,
languages are equal in that sense. But no, the ACTUAL meaning potential of
languages is not equal, because the semiotic orientation of language
changes—sociohistorically as well as ontogenetically—and for that reason
that meaning-potential-potential equality lies in the future, not the
Langston Hughes makes the same point, in language that seems particularly
relevant these days:
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. (…)
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual
Free E-print Downloadable at:
On Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:42 PM, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Very powerful particular example of how Cook used a combination of rigor
> and freehanding :: the heart of a romantic science.
> Leading to ...
> semantic code orientation--the psychological orientation [the
> psychological orientation *being* the semantic code orientation] of the
> speaker towards her or his context of situation, and beyond that, towards
> his or her context of culture.
> Offering us this *key*
> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> From: Alfredo Jornet Gil
> Sent: August 16, 2017 4:18 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science
> Really interesting, David. I wonder what romantic science looks like for
> us who drew our way to Quebec using Google Flights. I am afraid one might
> find that there is neither rigour nor freehand in the google operation...
> which may have quite worrying implications if one considers digital
> technology at the service of capitalism.
> I was very interested in Hasan's remarks on psychological orientation;
> would you direct us to a particular text or fragment to get more of that?
> From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> on behalf of David Kellogg <email@example.com>
> Sent: 16 August 2017 00:48
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] The Heart of Romantic Science
> In Melbourne, here in Australia, there is a stone cottage in the gardens of
> the treasury where the first huge gold deposits were winkled from the
> miners (by way of licencing fees) and kept. It's a very small cottage--just
> a sitting room and a bedroom on top of each other, like a two-storey,
> two-room flat in a modern housing project, except that there is a stable
> attached where animals lived cheek by jowl with human neighbors. It is not
> a replica--it's the exact house where Captain James Cook lived as little
> boy, bought up by the city of Melbourne for reasons better understood by
> Australians, and transported, stone by stone, from rural Yorkshire in
> England, about a century and a half after the man himself had set foot on
> Cook was a man a bit above his class (not much, because the glass ceiling
> for the son of an agricultural laborer was thick and low) and a bit ahead
> of his timet: his ideas about anthropology were an unstable emulsion of
> Rousseau and rationalism, and his erratic behavior to the more realist
> Hawaiians eventually cost him his life. But there were two ways in which he
> far outstripped his age, and perhaps they are both worth thinking about as
> we go to Quebec City for ISCAR, because that was where his breakthrough to
> romantic science really occurred.
> It was on the banks of the Saint Lawrence, during the "Guerre de Sept Ans"
> (the French and Indian War, for Americans), that Cook learned to use a
> plane table: to take two known distances with exact precision, and compute,
> using the angle between them and a bit of basic trig, the third segment of
> the triangle. He then freehanded the third segment and obtained a map of
> the approaches to Quebec City. Unlike rigorously surveyed maps and unlike
> purely freehanded maps, this one could be made as rigorous or as free as
> you liked, and that's what made it possible for Cook to jiffy-chart the
> "traversee" leading to Quebec City and to jerry-rig, overnight, a system of
> moored lifeboats to show the way for British man o' wars.
> This is actually quite similar to what we do in a lot of romantic science,
> including in text analysis. Say, for example, you want to understand how
> capitalism has, in our time, managed to produce an education system that
> enables working class navy men like Cook to operate a gun and even a plane
> table but somehow disables comprehension of the Communist Manifesto. Using
> a system-network, you can show the exact choices made by the author of the
> operating manual and the authors of the manifesto to any degree of delicacy
> you choose (clause type, indicative type, declarative type, process type,
> etc.) and derive the semantics and then the context from that. You can also
> "freehand" it by working backwards, from the context to the semantics to
> the lexicogrammar.
> It seems to me that it's THIS combination of rigor and freehanding, of
> verbal science and verbal art, that is the real heart of a romantic
> science, not some unsteady amalgam of Rousseau and rationalism. And when we
> bring this resource to bear upon our two texts, we find what Ruqaiya Hasan
> found: the difference between the operating manual and the manifesto lies
> not so much with the lexico-grammar as with what Bernstein called the
> semantic code orientation--the psychological orientation of the speaker
> towards her or his context of situation, and beyond that, towards his or
> her context of culture.
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual
> Free E-print Downloadable at: