Pedagogy and Passages: The Performativity of Margaret Cavendish's Utopian Fiction

Journal of Philosophy of Education 47 (3):457-474 (2013)


This article explores the pedagogical significance of non-static and hybrid utopian readings and writings by focusing on Margaret Cavendish's educationally-philosophically neglected female utopia The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. It questions the exaggerated, inflated and exclusivist emphasis on the pedagogical benefits of homologous spatial signifiers of entry into utopia and return to home and draws examples of utopian passages across genres, texts, minds and worlds from the writing of Cavendish. Such passages can be read as performative ways of hybridising and reinventing both the utopian topos and the traveller's identity. New space is thus opened for learning as imitation and re-writing rather than as a return to, or manifestation of, an original self. Finally, new performative means for fashioning pedagogical authorship, nurturing the other's learning, and fashioning intellectual growth are promoted. Such means comprise mutuality of pedagogical initiatives, improvisation through imitation and supplementarity of cooperative writing

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