One of the most revolutionary movements in the history of US universities—the Third World students’ strike that shut down San Francisco (SF) State College for five months in 1968–69—had a key precursor in the Experimental College (EC), which supported student-organized courses, including the first Black studies courses, at SF State. The EC offers inspiration for creating infrastructures of radical imagination and study. The EC appropriated resources—including spaces, money, teachers, credits, and technologies—for studying within, against, and beyond the normal university. The EC facilitated courses with revolutionary content, and they fostered modes of study in these courses that were radically alternative to the education-based mode of study. Contributing my concept of “modes of study,” I offer guidance for revolutionary movements on the terrain of universities today. Through analysis of archival materials and interviews with organizers of the EC and Black Student Union, I found that the EC organizers’ potentials for supporting revolutionary study were limited by their romanticizing of education, which was coconstituted with subscriptions to modernist imaginaries. Rejecting the education-based mode of study as bound up with liberal-capitalist modernity/coloniality, organizers today can appropriate their universities’ resources for alternative modes of study and world-making.
“This Quiet Revolution”: Alternative Modes of Study with the Experimental College at San Francisco State
Eli Meyerhoff, PhD, is the author of Beyond Education: Radical Studying for Another World. He is the program coordinator of the Social Movements Lab at Duke University and is a collective member of Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics.
Eli Meyerhoff; “This Quiet Revolution”: Alternative Modes of Study with the Experimental College at San Francisco State. Cultural Politics 1 November 2019; 15 (3): 315–330. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-7725465
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