Stupidity and study in the contemporary university

Heaney, Conor (2017) Stupidity and study in the contemporary university. La Deleuziana, 5. pp. 5-31. ISSN 2421-3098 (

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Will study be possible in the university-to-come? Or will it be necessary to abandon the university in order to study? In this paper, I confront these questions through an analysis of the relationship between stupidity and study in the university today. The first two sections of this paper are focused on exploring the concepts of stupidity and study. In §1 I explore stupidity, and further, systemic stupidity, through a combined reading of Gilles Deleuze and Bernard Stiegler. In §2 I explicate the notion of study – and the connected notions of debt, credit, and the undercommons – through Stefano Harney & Fred Moten. Synthesising their concepts, I go on to explore two particular modes of the practice of our contemporary stupidity in the university connected to everyday bureaucratic practices: (1) the metricised governance of research and teaching; (2) the manner in which the university acts as an agent of the border. This is the task of §3. Building on the identification of these two examples, in §4 I then go on to suggest and argue for two projects of study in the university-to-come: (1) the debureaucratisation and decommodification of knowledge; (2) the explosion of the host/guest distinction in the contemporary university’s practices of border enforcement. Ultimately, this paper seeks to help open up a conceptualpractical space for exploration of alternative futures for the university beyond its present of neocolonialism and stupidity.