Shakespeare, Alienation, and the Working-Class Student

  • Doug Eskew


Much scholarship focused on teaching at working-class universities assumes that professors should not “alienate” their students. As much as it would seem unethical for professors to seek to alienate working-class students, a pedagogy of alienation is precisely what this essay encourages. Drawing on the work of Walter Kaufmann, this essay suggests that the best humanist pedagogies strive to create a culture shock in which students must reappraise their own ways of thinking face-to-face with a challenging other. Despite how counterintuitive it may seem, professors who strive to reduce alienation unwittingly reduce the quality of their students’ education. If elite institutions provide a better education through a selective alienation of students to the objects of their studies, it is unethical to teach working-class students from a watered-down form of pedagogy simply because the educator believes they cannot cope with unadulterated form of teaching.


Alienation Walter kaufmann Pedagogy Working-class students Marxism Shakespeare 



For assistance in the writing of the essay, the author would like to thank Don Geiss, Rodney Herring, and the editors of this collection.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doug Eskew
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityPuebloUSA

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