NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1169068
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Mar
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0039-3746
Risky Subjectivities in Philip Pullman's "Northern Lights"
Mahon, Áine; O'Brien, Elizabeth
Studies in Philosophy and Education, v37 n2 p181-193 Mar 2018
This paper engages the philosophical concepts of subjectification and acknowledgment in conversation with Philip Pullman's young adult novel, "Northern Lights". Our particular focus is Lyra Belacqua, Pullman's central character. Precarious in her vulnerability and in her unknown significance, we read Lyra as usefully negotiating the dangerous transition from childhood to adolescence. In her negotiation of this complex liminality, we argue that Lyra models those difficult-to-define moments encountered by children as they learn to be in and of the world. Situating our reading in a Philosophy of Education discourse, we draw theoretically from the work of Gert Biesta and Stanley Cavell. With Biesta as the primary focus of our paper, we generalize beyond "Northern Lights" to argue that the reading of fiction constitutes "a weak educational event" in Biesta's intriguing understanding of that phrase. Partly as a theoretical framing for the Pullman text, we begin with an outline of Biesta's philosophy.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A