Authors like Roland Barthes, Erving Goffman and Arthur Frank have investigated the nature of the lecture in traditional classrooms. By traditional classroom I am indicating a situation where a lecturer is engaged in delivering an informative lecture with the possibility of taking questions and comments from the students and imagine this activity occurring within a typical classroom with desks or seats, a teacher’s desk up front (with its usual paraphernalia such as overhead projectors, media, chalkboard). These writers, especially Frank, investigate the role of lecturing not only as a pedagogical tool but as a practice that involves psychological interaction between the student and the instructor.
Although Roland Barthes and Erving Goffman have written insightful descriptions of the lecture as a textual and performative process, it is the work of Arthur W. Frank in his essay Lecturing and Transference that I will focus on here. What these writers all share is the insight that the lecturer presents not only an informational text – the content of the lecture – but also a supplement that crystallizes around the presence of the lecturer. For example Goffman describes the animator as the aspect of the lecturer that is over and beyond the mere information of the text. The lecturer communicates not only the information of the lecture but the status and authority of his embodied presence.