Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Class beyond class: Archaeologies of the knowledge economy
by Simpson, Richard Fredrick, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2010, 245; 3442431
Abstract (Summary)

Class Beyond Class: Archaeologies of the Knowledge Economy traces the emergence of the campus in the United States from the late 1800s through the twentieth century, and seeks to show how the geography of education was neither incidental nor marginal in the development of the contemporary geo-economic formation of multinational capital. The project focuses on Stanford University (founded 1891) not strictly because it marks an inaugural modernist attempt to compose a completely autonomous educational space that we today understand as a campus, but because of its principal role in the formation of the transnational urban space named Silicon Valley. Through its various manifestations as a city in microcosm, post-war industrial park, and corporate headquarters, the campus plays a definitive role in the history of Western modernity, as well as develops a profound reflection on the relationship between knowledge, economy, collective identity, built space, and pedagogy.

Chapter one provides a comparison of various nineteenth century American "pedagogic landscapes," demonstrating that the transformation in meaning of the term campus in the 1890's owes much less to changes in education practices, than to the narrative structural logic and public reception of three earlier spatial forms which arose within the context of the social contradiction between human welfare and rapid industrialization.

Chapter two focuses on how the modern university provided, not only a space that could function outside of politics in which concepts of the social could be developed, but on how this precise spatial form became a symbolic act in which both earlier moralistic forms of education and contemporary class and racial antagonisms crippling the industrial metropolis could be dramatically swept away. I argue that Leland Stanford's late advocacy of "direct worker ownership"—a 'third way' between corporate and state ownership of labor—required and produced, above all, a new space. The stylistic features integral to the campus scheme, aiming to balance universal social technologies with local, historical, and natural givens in order to resolve the central class conflicts and challenges of its time, offer rich possibilities for excavating new conceptions of cosmopolitanism in the present.

The desire for a classless society articulated in the technology of the original campus echoes within the aesthetic iterations of 'capitalist realism' employed by several influential corporate campuses of Silicon Valley such as, Apple, Oracle, and Yahoo!. Chapter three focuses on how space uniquely depoliticizes pedagogic labor and knowledge production, while at the same time elicits a crucial geographic project for recruiting developing countries into a global knowledge economy.

As an archaeology of the cultural, material, and economic practices that have directly contributed to the creation of Silicon Valley, this project ultimately provides a case study of the cultures of finance capital, the emergence of the multinational city, and the political valences of the continuously evolving vocation of the modern intellectual.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lunsford, Andrea A.
School: Stanford University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Landscape architecture, Rhetoric
Keywords: Knowledge economy, Silicon Valley
Publication Number: 3442431
ISBN: 978-1-124-46141-0
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