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Keywords:

  • influence;
  • Harold Bloom;
  • Stanley Cavell;
  • Emerson;
  • arts education;
  • Nietzsche

Abstract

Drawing on themes found in James Marshall's writings on Nietzsche, the arts and the self, this paper explores the nature of influence in the arts and its relevance to education. It considers what Harold Bloom has called the ‘anxiety of influence’ and amplifies this in terms of broader questions concerning Emersonian self-reliance. The particular twist these matters take in the lives of adolescents presents special problems for education in the arts—not least in view of the dangers of self-deception, affectation and pretentiousness—and raises in turn questions about the relation between high art and popular art. These matters connect also with questions concerning the kinds of vocabularies and ways of thought into which young people need to be initiated if they are to develop creatively and authentically.