The present essay lays out the central themes in Walter Benjamin’s account of fantasy and its place in the world of the child. It seeks to distinguish a learning from fantasy from what is often called learning from experience. Establishing this distinction leads me to develop in some detail the peculiar concept of a receptive imagination (which Benjamin calls “fantasy”). I set out to contrast it with an active or constructive notion of imagination and to find its place in relation to central notions often used to describe the space of teaching and learning, such as exemplification, imitation, and play. The central case study through which I elaborate the aforesaid concepts and dimensions is Benjamin’s treatment of the colors of fantasy. As I suggest toward the end of my essay, some of the lessons that I draw from Benjamin’s account of the child’s view of color have bearing on his characterization of the transition from dream to awakening in the space of memory and history.
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Eli Friedlander; Learning from the Colors of Fantasy. boundary 2 1 May 2018; 45 (2): 111–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-4381049
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