This chapter begins with four premises: (1) that the scene of instruction is shaped by an epistemological problem, the question how do I know you understand?; (2) that particular pedagogical practices are constructed to answer that question by providing specific representations of what the student knows; (3) that those same practices, or exercises, simultaneously make larger representations of knowledge, knowing, learning, and thinking, representations that vary and need not be mutually consistent; and (4) that those exercises and the representations they make are foundational for (a) how poets understood their vocation and (b) how trained readers would approach their works. Much of the discussion is devoted to a patient anatomy of these exercises, understood as modes both of teaching and of understanding. These are used to construct a poetics of pedagogy, a repertory of representational conventions that both structure and constrain fictions which themselves profess to teach. The goal is to demonstrate how the resources of a particular literary kind were exploited to critique those conventions, and to challenge how a period imagined the very nature of teaching and learning.
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