The self-taught enigma, from the making of the work to its recognition: what can we learn from accounts of learning?

A lecture presented by Hélène Bézille

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By evoking a series of discoveries made during her research on ‘informal’ or ‘unformatted’ learning, Hélène Bézille explores the socio-historical construction of the figure of the autodidact. She observes in particular how this dual figure, oscillating between disqualification and recognition, alienation and emancipation, gained legitimacy from the 1960s onwards with the construction of the self-made man and the growing ‘artification’ of what we see as radical singularities. In order to better deconstruct the myth of the autodidact, attention must be paid to accounts (or biographies) of learning which reveal the complexity of the learning process and the blurring of the boundaries between different forms of knowledge. Accounts of learning allow us to identify transformative experiences and affiliation choices outside classical training systems. Assuming that we are all autodidacts at some point or other in our lives, Bézille emphasises the importance of informal, ‘low-key’ learning processes, which evolve through everyday experiences. Thus, the enigma of the ‘autodidact’ could well be replaced by that of the ‘heterodidact.’




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