Education by Metaphor
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What is metaphor and how do we learn to think analogically? Education by Metaphor explores these questions from two perspectives: poetics and curriculum theorizing. Through this discursive inquiry, I develop arguments and hypotheses on the origins, mechanics, and educative possibilities of metaphor, often by drawing from Zwicky’s philosophical work and interviews I conducted with six Canadian writers. I sought conversations with these writers because the works they publish display deft and provocative analogical play. I wanted to know what they know about metaphor, and how they came to know such things, and how these ideas inform their critical, artistic, and pedagogical practices. I also asked for their thoughts on particular discursive conflicts and metaphoric models, and I asked them about their curricular experiences, both formal and otherwise. Excerpts from these transcripts are interwoven throughout the manuscript, according to their connections with the topics at hand. The first chapter of this dissertation traces metaphor’s discursive history and delineates its conflict with philosophy. From that foundation, I critique contemporary models for metaphor that stem from Black’s and Richards’ theorizing; after explaining why they are ill-suited to poetic terrain, I develop a less reductive model. Much of this work informs subsequent chapters, hence its preliminary positioning. In the second chapter I approach metaphor anthropologically and advance hypotheses for how we, as a species, might have come to think metaphorically. These hypotheses emphasize empathy and anthropomorphism, two important notions nested within the inner-workings of analogical thought. In turn, these hypotheses inform the third chapter’s explorations of poetic and ontological attention. This theoretical work reveals concepts integrally related to metaphor’s emergence, for example aesthetic experience, defamiliarization, and the interplay of pattern and anomaly. In the fourth chapter, I revisit these concepts from a more empirical perspective and use comments from my interviewees to illuminate intersections amongst play, pedagogy, and analogical thought. Lastly, the fifth chapter asks, what good is the study of metaphor? I respond to this question by addressing metaphor’s imaginative, ethical, and educational consequences.