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Education and the Existential Novel
This book, which will be published in 2025 as part of the 'Literature and Education' Routledge book series, seeks to answer the following question: What does the ‘existential novel’ have to say about education? Throughout, I showcase how European writers and philosophers identified with this school of thought have one thing in common – their unashamed pronouncement of the messy and often disturbing nature of lived experience. The book argues that the gamut of human (inter)actions they describe is so often familiar to our experience of education, and thus, in attending to lived reality in this way, the existential novel captures realities that cross over into the educational domain. With this in mind, this book will consider the extent to which these texts can shed light on those destabilising experiences so often pushed underground in the common scientistic, as well as overly romantic, conceptions of education. Moreover, ideas that are central to the existentialist movement, and that are made manifest throughout these texts – alienation, recognition, and the questions of belonging and identity – can both speak to and give voice to a range of experiences that are sometimes ‘othered’ in educational policy and practices. Scenes from specific existential novels are selected for analysis, serving as a ‘touchstone’ that inspires us to look at education anew, in ways that do not shy away from the uncertainties, disorientations, and challenges that being an educator – or being educated – involve.
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