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Continuing a Conversation With Maxine Greene in Comics

by Nick Sousanis & Daiyu Suzuki - 2015

Purpose: To illuminate the concepts of aesthetic experience and wide-awakeness in the philosophy of Maxine Greene by using the aesthetic approaches she discussed - in this case, using the comic book form as a means of visually embodying and extending her ideas.

Setting: In Maxine Greene’s living room, the view through the window, and on the sidewalk across the street from her apartment—under the tree that she looked upon each day.

Research Design: Philosophical-aesthetic inquiry.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This philosophical-aesthetic inquiry has left us with more questions than answers as we engaged in an imaginative dialogue with Maxine Greene. Maxine lived her philosophy not just in her work, but in her daily life. Her lived example leaves us with some of the following questions: How do we—as educators, researchers, and philosophers—reconcile the separation between our intellectual lives and personal lives? What does it mean to cultivate our imaginative capacities for social change? How do we see the unseen? How do we see movements in what seems static, and changes in what seems permanent? How do we refuse to accept given “truth” as true and so-called “reality” as real? How do we attend our world anew each day?

Maxine’s method of asking, rather than answering, opened her to seeing greater possibilities in her world. And it is this attitude for seeing and for asking rather than any “ism” that we take into our own work and seek to convey with this piece.

We met in our first semester as doctoral students in the class Maxine held in her living room. Daiyu had been profoundly influenced by her Dialectic of Freedom as an undergraduate student and was thrilled to discover that she was still actively teaching, while Nick first encountered her at a talk she gave at Teachers College in honor of her 90th birthday that he happened upon while visiting TC several months before classes began. The experience in her class would have a major impact on both of us. Daiyu went on to be Maxinefs teaching assistant all the way through her final course. Nick would visit and share his comics with Maxine regularly, and she served on his dissertation committee—his defense was held at her home just weeks before her passing.

This piece began as an intended collaboration between Maxine and Nick that would deal with imagination and focus on the tree outside her window. It never had a chance to develop beyond conversations and initial sketches. It was evident from Daiyu's memorial at Maxine's funeral that he had been similarly moved by her interest in this tree, so we decided to collaborate to see the piece to fruition. We met once in Maxine's apartment to take in that view one last time, and several other times outside around her tree as the piece developed.

One of the first thing we decided was to go forward rather than backward. As Maxine would say, "I don't want to save the world. I only want to start a conversation." Instead of mourning over her death, we decided to celebrate Maxine's life and teaching by continuing the conversation she began.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 10, 2015, p. 1-6
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18103, Date Accessed: 12/3/2021 2:04:18 AM

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About the Author
  • Nick Sousanis
    University of Calgary
    E-mail Author
    NICK SOUSANIS is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Comics Studies at the University of Calgary. He received his doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comic book form. Titled Unflattening, it argues for the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning, and was published by Harvard University Press in 2015. He is frequently invited to present on his work and the importance of visual thinking in educational institutions across the United States and internationally, and has taught courses on comics as powerful communication tools at Columbia, Parsons, and now at the University of Calgary
  • Daiyu Suzuki
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    DAIYU SUZUKI is a current doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a co-founder of education activist network. His book on neoliberal dismantling of the U.S. public education will be published by Iwanami Shoten in the fall, 2015.
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