Romantic Illusions in ELT: The Cultural Creation of Pedagogic ‘Self’ and Student ‘Other,’ from Shakespeare and the Sublime to English Textbooks


This paper will discuss the connections between Western cultural movements such as the enlightenment and the romantic counter-enlightenment, and their residue in modern English teaching practices abroad. While enlightenment culture represented Western progress positively, demarcation between `civilized self` and `savage other` meant that other parts of the world were judged by Europeans to be inferior. The Romantic counter enlightenment, with its emphasis on sublime, astonishment and horror, served to further accentuate the colonialist notion of the non-West as mysterious terra incognita. Romanticism provided a sensory threshold, or liminality, whereby it could represent other parts of the world through the creative power of the human imagination, whilst also being bound by the liminal nature of this intermediate condition. In specific relation to The Middle East and Asia, Romantic writers contributed to a colonialist tradition of depicting the Orient as an exotic and inscrutable place of adventure. This has in turn influenced modern travel guides, which further convey the promise of adventure that draws backpackers and travelers to the poorer parts of the word on �egap�f year travels. Yet this may also implicitly influence the motivation of many Westerners working abroad as English teachers, while Western created stereotypical representations of `self` and `other` also pervade contemporary ELT materials. Therefore, of specific interest to this paper is discussing the interconnected relationship and tension between enlightened depiction of `self` and romantic perception of the `other`, and its remnants in the pedagogic materials and political and economic practices of the English language teaching industry.

Author Information
Neil Matthew Addison, Tokyo Woman's Christian University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2014
Stream: Education

This paper is part of the ACE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon