R. I. Simon: A pedagogy of public possibility
An invitation to publish in Canadian Social Studies
Editor: Kent den Heyer; Guest editors: Lisa Farley, Aparna Mishra Tarc
The influence of Roger Simon’s calling as a teacher extends in incalculable directions.
For decades, his teaching at the University of Toronto questioned status quo practices found
in activism, schools, museums, media, and other sites of public memory. Simon’s influence is
as subtle in these multiple directions as it is profound in specific sites where his colleagues
and former students now work.
Simon’s professional life embodies for us the very same qualities of the “gift” that he
identified in the legacy of Emmanuel Levinas. The “gift” Simon had in mind is not the kind
that represents a sought‐after possession that promises personal fulfillment. Rather, the gift
of his legacy bequeaths an ethical question about how to pass it onto still others, in the
awareness of the radical uncertainty and surprise that characterized its initial registration.
As with J. Derrida’s archive of feverish, future questions, connections and thoughts still to be
made, Simon’s legacy, we suggest, is also yet to come. In the long shadow of his loss, we
have much to mine in Simon’s teaching characterized by a hermeneutic attentiveness to the
conditions necessary for redemptive social relationships and as explored in his written
work from Teaching Against the Grain: Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility (1992) to The
Touch of the Past (2005).
In this special Canadian Social Studies issue we seek to honour Roger and his work
with the focused attention, theoretical risk and radical possibility he practiced and
encouraged. We do so by inviting contributions from those whose work takes up, extends,
or is imbued with Roger’s influence as a teacher and as a scholar.