Reading Room #29: Fred Dewey and The Ignorant Schoolmaster

The second in a new series of Reading Rooms around the library of the American thinker and organiser Fred Dewey, a collective reading and discussion around Jacques Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987)
13/02/2024, 18-20h


“People are more willing to talk … when they’re sharing something deeply meaningful with each other. That’s why poetry becomes the foundation of a new kind of dialogue.” (Fred Dewey)


Dewey had a fierce commitment to creating public spaces for intellectual and political engagement. His home base was Los Angeles, but the last years of his life he spent in Brussels. In 2022 Dewey died unexpectedly. To ensure the continuation of his legacy, the Fred Dewey Legacy Project was initated, aiming to set up initiatives that extend Dewey’s work, as well as preserve his considerable library.


Summer 2023 artists Filip van Dingenen and Hélène Meyer re-installed part of Dewey’s extensive library. They are opening up his collection of books to artists and researchers from their studio home. One way to activate this library is Jubilee’s 2024 Reading Room program. This program performs a collective knowledge transfer – using the library as a situated research tool from which each Jubilee artist can select a title and propose it for a collective reading and discussion session.


The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation is a 1987 book by philosopher Jacques Rancière on the role of the teacher and individual towards individual liberation. Rancière uses the example of Joseph Jacotot, a French teacher in the late 18th century who taught in Belgium without knowledge of their language (Flemish), to explain the role of liberation after Marxism. The work expresses Rousseauist ideas, e.g. in the state of nature humans are morally good, and emphasizes that individual change precipitates societal change. Its arguments draw heavily from the French socialist party’s debates on education during the 1980s. It was translated to English in 1991 by Kristin Ross.

This Reading Room is proposed by Clémentine Vaultier


23 January: Reading Room #28: Fred Dewey and School of Public Life proposed by Filip Van Dingenen
13 February: Reading Room #29: Fred Dewey and The Ignorant Schoolmaster proposed by
Clémentine Vaultier
19 March: Reading Room #30: Fred Dewey and Art as Experience proposed by Maximiliaan Royakkers
23 April: Reading Room #31: Fred Dewey and Walter Benjamin proposed by Vincent Meessen
21 May: Reading Room #32 proposed by Ciel Grommen, Maxiliaan Royakkers and Clémentine Vaultier (of the project Atlas of Ovens)
11 June: Reading Room #33 proposed by Louise de Bethune

Each reading room takes place from 18-20:30h. Soup and bread will be provided. Locations are different each time


Address Reading Room #29

Rue Montenegro 127
1190 Forest