Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education and Human Services


Educational Foundations

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Tyson E. Lewis

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

David Kennedy

Committee Member

Jeremy N. Price


This dissertation examines a conceptual paradox within the mounting crisis of imagination in education. I introduce the concept of phantasy (Marcuse, 1955) to, first, disrupt the dominant definitions of imagination found in educational policies such as Common Core State Standards and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives. These documents instrumentalize imagination in order to meet global economic initiatives (Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), 2012; CoSTEM, 2011; U.S. Department of Commerce, 2012). Against such instrumentalization, I propose to reunite imagination with phantasy. The result is a philosophical groundwork for what I call “phantastic imagination” which returns imagination to its radical, disruptive, and utopian roots. As such, this study has three central goals: to provide an overview of the current paradoxes and aporias in contemporary educational policy related to imagination; map a philosophical dialectic that helps to resolve these problems by returning to the question of phantasy; and posit educational alternatives based on an emerging theory of phantastic imagination.

The dissertation utilizes a dialectical methodology to map the convergences and divergences of imagination and phantasy throughout philosophical history. This analysis serves two primary purposes. First, it reveals the historical origins of the current crisis in the conception of imagination in educational policy. Second, it emphasizes the productive moments in the dialectic where the tension between imagination and phantasy is not repressed but rather embraced and even heightened. The resulting philosophical analysis develops criteria for uncovering points within in existing research, educational theory, and pedagogy where phantasy can return to disrupt the instrumentalization of imagination. In sum, this dissertation offers insight into understanding the phantastic imagination and how a hospitality towards phantasy can be made relevant to teachers who are interested in nurturing dimensions of the imagination beyond economic utility.

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