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Being a Stranger and the Strangeness of Being: Joseph Conrad's 'The secret sharer' as an allegory of being in education
Stockholm University, Centre for Teaching and Learning.
2013 (English)In: Educational Philosophy and Theory, ISSN 0013-1857, E-ISSN 1469-5812, Vol. 45, no 4, 409-419 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Joseph Conrad's 'The secret sharer' has often been associated with what can be called initiation stories. However, in this article I argue that Conrad's text is more than that. It can, I suggest, be read as an allegory of the inaccessibility to reveal the essence of being in command, being in education, and also the inaccessibility of the essence of the meaning of the text itself. It keeps its secret by allegorically staging alternative readings. This inaccessibility gives rise to a feeling of strangeness, of the uncanny, that must be faced in order to pass through the initiation into the unknown that all the possible allegorical meanings of the text produce. In other words, 'The secret sharer' has an educational value that goes beyond the act of merely using it to exemplify a certain type of initiation. In this way I connect Conrad's text to the themes of strangeness and the stranger and show how they mutually can involve a reading of education and literature as two distinct discourses of learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 45, no 4, 409-419 p.
Keyword [en]
stranger, strangeness, education, literature, learning, Conrad, Freud, the uncanny allegory, initiation stories
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-91045DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2012.718147ISI: 000318760100006OAI: diva2:630477


Available from: 2013-06-19 Created: 2013-06-18 Last updated: 2013-06-19Bibliographically approved

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