Term of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

William Schubert

Committee Member 3 Email



In this dissertation, I build upon Darwin’s (1859/1964) metaphor of the complex biological tangle of a river bank - plants, birds, insects, and earth - to paint a picture of transformative learning as aesthetic (Dewey, 1934/2005; Eisner, 1998, 2002b; Greene, 1995, 2001; Liston, 2001), and embodied (Dewey, 1958; Johnson, 2007; Shusterman, 2006), and thereby connected to the learner’s life experience, including his/her/their ecological, cultural, and historic situatedness. I call this complication of Darwin’s metaphor the ecofeminist tangled bank. For my purposes, an ecofeminist theoretical framework provides a means of analyzing oppressive conceptual frameworks that perpetuate hierarchy and domination, and which lack an appreciation for meaningful difference (Chircop, 2008). Such oppressive frameworks, I argue, characterize much about the current approach to learning. Transformative learning, or learning which leaves the individual changed, seeing the world differently than before, and “willing to act in accordance with those differences” (Girod, Twyman, & Wojcikiewicz, 2010, p. 804), may be fostered through aesthetic learning. Investigating the impact of aesthetic learning experience (Dewey, 1934/2005; Eisner, 1998, 2002b; Greene, 1995, 2001; Liston, 2001), I theorize that such experiences inscribe themselves on the body, becoming the impetus for the individual’s passionate desires (Garrison, 1997). Ultimately, I paint a picture of learning as the subjective “exertion of a choice” (Darwin, 1871).

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Research Data and Supplementary Material