Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

From Authority to Freedom: Northrop Frye and Education as Cultural Process

Joe Velaidum.

The postmodern critique of meta-narratives and hegemony offers serious challenges to humanities based education. Post-modernists have subverted the traditional authorities of liberal education, calling into question both the unified nature of their ideas, and the power structures that underlie them and keep them in current university curriculum. In many discussions on this issue, there is a perceived dichotomous “either” of traditional canons and authorities in liberal education, “or” the post-modernist educational theory which sees education as a subversion of these texts. This radical dichotomous split neglects the process of education. For the great literary and culture critic Northrop Frye, liberal education is a progression that leads a student from the authority of the classic to the freedom of an “educated imagination”. This paper thus explores Frye’s model for education as a via media – a middle way in-between the post-modern and traditional ideas, thus leading to a more integrated conception of liberal education today. Ultimately, we will see that education is a cultural ideal that seeks to liberate the mind from the tyranny of ideology, and as such it needs to as inclusive as possible without ignoring tradition and authority.


Joe Velaidum  (Canada)
Department of Religious Studies
University of Prince Edward Island

  • Liberal Education
  • Culture
  • Authority
  • Freedom
  • Post-Modern
  • Tradition
Person as Subject
  • Frye, Northrop

(Virtual Presentation, English)