Dr Ansgar Allen
School of Education
PhD Programme Director
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
+44 114 222 8085
Full contact details
School of Education
2 Whitham Road
- Research interests
Based on the idea that academic form restricts (and is often in ironic relation to) academic content, my writing experiments with style, ranging from more standard academic tropes to the fictive and fragmentary.
As well as the usual research outputs (peer-reviewed papers), I have written three academic books (Benign Violence, 2014, Palgrave MacMillan; The Cynical Educator, 2017, Mayfly Books; Cynicism, 2020, MIT Press), co-written a textbook (Education and Philosophy, 2017, SAGE), and have published several novels and experimental texts (see below, but also The Reaches, 2020, Schism Neuronics), as well as a range of book chapters, reviews, encyclopaedia entries, blogs, and media articles listed here.
Research interests include the role of ancient Cynicism as an ‘educational philosophy’, the function of contemporary cynicism in education, and the construction of the Western educated subject.
My research traces the development of educational subjectivities, including the history of our commitment to the supposed inherent value of education and the importance of being ‘educated’. In my writing and teaching, I study the unquestionable goods of education, remaining open to the possibility that education in all its forms (even where it appears most benign) is a form of violence.
Current research projects
Interrogating education through fiction
This is an ongoing project in which educational ideas are encountered and explored in the contexts of theoretically driven literary fiction. The object of critique is typically at the intersection of pedagogy (the teaching of dependent personalities) and andragogy (the self-cultivation of adults in educated society).
These fictions include a foray into the darker side of educational relations in The Sick List (2021, Boiler House Press), pursuit of the idea that education might function as an intoxicant in The Wake and the Manuscript (2022, Anti-Oedipus Press), an exploration of the continued influence of priestly ideas in secular contexts in Black Vellum (2023, Schism2), and interrogation of some of the institutions that anchor educated culture, such as museums in Plague Theatre (2022, Equus Press), and the institution of the library in The Sick List. Other texts include a re-enactment of the destruction of humanist culture in Burton's Anatomy (2022, Schism Neuronics), a satire in part of the promise of liberation by reading in The Reading Room (2021, Schism Neuronics), and an exploration of the limits of research in the dystopian novella Wretch (2020, Schism Neuronics).
- Cynicism. MIT Press.
- Education and Philosophy: An Introduction. SAGE Publications.
- View this article in WRRO The Cynical Educator. Leicester: Mayfly.
- Benign Violence: Education in and Beyond the Age of Reason. Palgrave Macmillan. View this article in WRRO
- Regimes of motherhood : social class, the word gap, and the optimisation of mothers' talk. Sociological Review, 70(6), 1181-1198. View this article in WRRO
- Bartleby is dead : inverting common readings of melville’s bartleby, the scrivener. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 24(5), 61-72. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO The culture of education: Ancient cynicism and 'the scandal of the truth'. Materiali Foucaultiani, 7(13-14), 75-92.
- View this article in WRRO Beckett and the Plight of the Educator. Other Education, 7(2), 88-96.
- The Economic Problem of Masochism in Education. Confero. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO The end of education? Nietzsche, Foucault, Genealogy. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 1, 47-65.
- View this article in WRRO Education, Mastery and the Marquis de Sade. Other Education, 2, 39-55.
- View this article in WRRO Awaiting Education: Friedrich Nietzsche On the Future of Our Educational Institutions. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 24(3), 197-210.
- The domestication of Foucault. History of the Human Sciences, 27(5), 26-53. View this article in WRRO
- Radicalism, Education and Political Practice. Power and Education, 5(3), 262-267.
- The Examined Life. American Educational Research Journal, 50(2), 216-250.
- Cultivating the myopic learner: the shared project of high-stakes and low-stakes assessment. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 33(5), 641-659. View this article in WRRO
- Life without the 'x' factor - meritocracy past and present. Power and Education, 1(4), 4-19.
- MICHAEL YOUNG'S THE RISE OF THE MERITOCRACY: A PHILOSOPHICAL CRITIQUE. BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 59(4), 367-382.
- The idea of a world university: Can Foucauldian research offer a vision of educational futures?. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19(3), 367-383.
- The Foucauldian Peacekeeper: on the dispersion of power and the futility of change. Power and Education, 3(5), 226-237.
- Raising people. Pedagogy, Culture and Society. View this article in WRRO
- The experience of education in Anglo-Saxon literature. British Journal of Educational Studies, 67(3), 411-413.
- Against Meritocracy: culture, power and myths of mobility. British Journal of Educational Studies, 66(2), 284-285.
- Happiness, hope and despair: Rethinking the role of education. POLICY FUTURES IN EDUCATION, 15(6), 803-804.
- Against value in the arts and education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(10), 1045-1046. View this article in WRRO
- Confucius, the analects and western education. BRITISH EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, 40(5), 908-909.
- Ideas of education: philosophy and politics from Plato to Dewey.. British Journal of Educational Studies, 62(3), 355-357.
- Meritocratic education and social worthlessness. BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 62(2), 225-226.
- The Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault. Power and Education, 3(1).
- Why Foucault? Review Essay. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 315-320.
- Forms of education: rethinking educational experience against and outside the humanist legacy. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 1-11.
- Book Review: A Companion to Foucault. Journal of Philosophy of Education (online reviews).
- Teaching activities
I teach across a range of programmes in the School of Education, in areas including history and philosophy of education, continental philosophy, educational and social theory, educational politics, childhood studies, academic writing and research methodology.
I welcome applications to study for doctoral research degrees, in particular from those wishing to undertake research in the areas of educational philosophy, history and theory, and for students wishing to embark upon a PhD by Practice in the areas of creative-critical writing and theory-fiction.
- Professional activities and memberships
Editorial and professional roles:
- Co-editor of Risking Education, an imprint of Punctum Books
- Pedagogy, Culture and Society Editorial Board Member and Book Reviews Editor
- Power and Education Editorial Board Member
- Other Education Editorial Board Member
- PESGB Branch Secretary
- PESGB Large Grants committee member (2016-18)
- Docent in Philosophy of Education, University of Helsinki
- External Examiner, MA in Philosophy of Education, University of Winchester
In addition to the conference circuit (in the areas of education, utopian studies and literary theory), I have been invited to participate in discussion and speak in a range of academic and non-academic contexts, including the World Forum for Democracy (Strasbourg, France), the International Conference on Reimagining Schooling (Thessaloniki, Greece), the Society for the History of Children and Youth (London, Canada), the Qingshan Education Bureau (Wuhan, China), the German-British Association (Berlin, Germany), the European Network on Neoliberal Education Policy (York, UK), ESRI (Manchester, UK), the Social Theory Group (Manchester, UK), various PESGB seminars across the UK, and the Sheffield Education Collective.