Discourses, genres, and other “form fields”

magnet fieldFrom physics, we know about magnetic fields, gravitational fields, electrical fields, and other fields of physical force.

If curriculum is the semiosic activity or course of experience in which human being comes to form, then curriculum theory and curriculum studies must be concerned with the fields of semiosic forms guiding the formation of human persons, cultures, social institutions, practices, etc.

By analogy with “force fields” in the physical world, we can think of “form fields” in the world of curricular formation. What Jim Gee describes as “Discourses,” what Joseph Schwab described as “disciplines” and Kuhn described as “disciplinary matrices” (after first describing them as disciplinary “paradigms”), and what Clay Spinuzzi describes as “genres” and “genre ecologies,” might all be regarded as “form fields” for curriculum. As we think of gravitational force as shaping physical space, so we can think of semiosic fields shaping the curricular space of genres, discourses, and disciplines (etc.).

[Note: This reflects a talk given by Jim Gee on Feb. 28, 1992 at Louisiana State University, in which he used gravity’s curving of physical space-time as an analogy for the effects of disciplines on Discourses. The emphasis on formation, as in disciplinary formations, Discourse formations, and form-fields, reflects my own grounding in curriculum studies, as the study of the course of experience in which human being takes form.]

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© 2008 James Anthony Whitson. Permission to use this material is granted subject to the condition that the source is cited, including the information in either of the following citation forms (1 for Chicago style A [15th]; or 2 for APA style [5th]):

  1. Whitson, James Anthony. “Discourses, Genres, and Other “Form Fields”.” (2008), https://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/form-fields/ (accessed Month date, 20xx). [or]
  2. Whitson, J. A. (2008). Discourses, genres, and other “form fields”. Retrieved Month date, 20xx from https://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/form-fields/.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 23, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Well, i’m artist and i’m not sure to understand everything of your theory, but i have my way to experiment life and “forces fields” as sensitive, and intuitive personn. (well, artist AND french!) I’m very interrested about your article ” Discourses, genres, and other “form fields”” and would like to know if we can contact, i am an a project ART and SCIENCE… and may i need a bit your explanation on few things.
    If you got time and “energy” for it.

    Hope to read, know, about you soon, My best regards From France, Vanina.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] to explain, the origin of life. The meaning of this testimony is not intelligible within the “form field” (cf. “force field”) of his Discourse. This is a matter of basic literacy — […]

  2. […] of their work. [added March 29, 2008: This would be an example of what I’m now calling semiosic “form-fields,” e.g. fields of discourse that shape meaning as received (regardless of whether the writer […]

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