David Kupferman, School of Teaching and Learning, gave a presentation titled “Détournement: Getting Students to Think about ‘High’ Theory Using Kitsch and Low Theory” on February 8 at the STAR Symposium.

Dr. Kupferman’s presentation focused on the method of détournement, a form of refashioning objects and themes in the social imaginary, often in the form of kitsch, to other ends, such as approaching higher abstract concepts and theories. Originally developed by Guy Debord and the Situationist International movement in French avant-garde art in the 1950s, détournement allows students to see how theory exists in the everyday, and notably in popular culture. Additionally, détournement asks students to take ordinary objects, such as YouTube clips, song lyrics, TV commercials, and cartoons (among other examples), and reshape them into objects of inquiry, or ‘texts.’