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This paper considers a key text in the field of Cultural Studies for its relevance to questions about the identity of knowledge in education. The concept of ‘aura’ arises as being of special significance in ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ as a way of understanding the change that occurs to art when mass reproduction becomes both technologically possible and industrially realised. Aura seems to signify something of the symbolic halo generated by objects of special significance that is both powerful and indefinite. This paper argues that aura is in fact the necessary property of symbolic representation—and that it attaches as much to the figure of Walter Benjamin as it does to any canonical work of art. But the paper also claims that Benjamin's argument about the significance of popular forms of art—particularly photography and film—can be updated and applied to critical questions about the established order of knowledge in education. This is particularly relevant to those curriculum domains where specific objects—texts, for example—are invested with powerful auras. It may also be applicable to all forms of established knowledge and curricula.