A Critique of Knowledge-based Arts Education: Ars Gratia Artis Through Rancière’s Aesthetics


  • Thanh Phùng Michigan State University
  • Lynn Fendler Michigan State University




Rancière, Knowledge, Aesthetics, Equality, Arts Education.


We are interested in contrasts between ‘art for art’s sake’ and instrumental justifications for art in education. Surprisingly, it seems that current mainstream discourses of arts education tend to inflect the term ‘art for art’s sake’ with instrumental qualities. This paper examines the scene of Discipline-Based Arts Education (DBAE) in contemporary United States and critiques the instrumental setup of ‘art for art’s sake’ endorsed by DBAE. It also suggests an alternative framework to think about ‘art for art’s sake’ in the education of art from Rancière’s political and aesthetic theory.


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Author Biographies

Thanh Phùng, Michigan State University

Thanh Phùng, MEd (Catholic University of Leuven, 2007), is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University. Before coming to the U.S., she worked as a lecturer at Vietnam National University, Hanoi. Thanh is interested in educational theory, history of senses and sensibility, poetry, travel, creativity, and love.

Lynn Fendler, Michigan State University

Lynn Fendler is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, USA, where she teaches courses in curriculum theory, philosophy of education, and humanities-oriented research. She is a member of History and Philosophy of Education Research Community of Leuven, Belgium. Her books include Michel Foucault (Bloomsbury 2010) and Historical Approaches: International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research (with Marc Depaepe; Springer 2015). Professor Fendler studies the ethics of knowledge by conducting genealogical examinations of unintended harmful and exclusionary effects of knowledge. Her recent research projects include a history of the bell curve, non-representational theory, and gustatory taste.