Passionate pedagogy

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RitaIt was strange to look back to a world where part-time university-level distance learning for adults was a revolutionary concept; the OU by success paving the way for every other university to take up that role.  The tape, retrieved from an ancient VHS collection, is almost clapped out, and its wavery sound and errant image proved on my senses how long ago, indeed, it all was.

The story of Pygmalion is always worth revisiting in its many retellings.  Frank thinks for a while that he is Mary Shelley, but, even without that darker shadow, Pygmalion is a questionable role, the powers of creation and ownership being so closely allied.  Endorsing this connection poisons the ending of My Fair Lady. Russell, following Shaw, had more sense than to ladle syrup into the closing scenes of Educating Rita, for which thanks.

So yes; Rita loves Frank.  And maybe Eliza loves Higgins.  Maybe, even, the statue loves Pygmalion.  But not without qualification.  And they all deserve to have slippers thrown at them.

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9 responses »

  1. Revisiting Pygmalion is always a treat – thought you might be interested in ‘Ovid’s Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman’ (2013) by Dr Paula James. Pygmalion certainly offers Science Fiction a great opportunity. I wondered whether you knew of a contemporary version where a woman is the creator?

    • No, I don’t know of a female Pygmalion. Perhaps it wouldn’t fit the trope. Would she tend to morph into a man-eater or a possessive mother instead, do you think? Thanks for that recommendation too btw.

      • It would be interesting to see if an imaginative writer could use a female Pygmalion to contrast her response to her controlled, empowered ability to create against the usual randomness of biological creation/reproduction.

    • From my admittedly limited observations, I think they still do, but the academic landscape has certainly changed almost beyond recognition Since My Day, so perhaps they mean something quite different now. Certainly the OU is wildly different.

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