Theses Doctoral

Enchanted Pedagogy: Archetypal Forms, Magic, and the Transmission of Knowledge in Fantasy Literature

Razdow, Kari Adelaide

This study examines pedagogical patterns associated with wizard, witch, and fairy archetypes in fantasy literature. The fact that magic exists in fantasy literature as a mysterious and elusive element allows narratives to maintain and validate various means of knowledge acquisition – one archetypal form, such as a wizard, pursues a radically different mode of pedagogical engagement with magic than another archetypal form, such as a fairy. According to Carl Jung, archetypes are anchored by ancient elements of mythological lore, yet continuously shape-shift in the present day. My qualitative research process involved close readings of selected passages in popular works of fantasy literature, selected for analysis based on their salient educational themes as well as a presence of witches, wizards, and fairies. I examine how archetypes in fantasy literature frame various approaches to education, investigating whether these pedagogical multiplicities tend to re-codify magic itself. I investigate how these archetypes acquire, dispel, manipulate, and embody magic with opposing or unique tactics, while considering how each archetype confronts the unknown. I also reflect on the relevant folkloric and mythic dimensions of each archetype, examining the extent in which the magical discourse surrounding each archetype relates to ideas about teaching and learning. Each archetype presents pedagogic nuances, subtle parallels, layers, and metaphorical veins of meaning. How does education in fantasy literature establish broad and vexing challenges to the realities that we are familiar with or conscious of in the everyday contemporary educational field? Are there idiosyncratic pedagogical possibilities (and impossibilities) through archetypal representations in fantasy literature, allowing for multifaceted and meaningful representations of teaching and learning? I find that each archetype’s distinct pedagogical model includes variations as well as overlapping representations of creative agency, amplified possibilities, enhanced notions of growth, radical receptivity, calls for empathy, and visions of transformation. After examining each archetype in consecutive chapters, my conclusion summarizes the prismatic meaning of their pedagogical engagements, while reflecting on the implications and cross-pollination of education and magic. The intersection of praxis and knowledge for each archetype induces a mythopoeic imagination in relation to education, as each reconciles and renews significant transformational elements of pedagogy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Broughton, John
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 2, 2020