Honors Theses

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Teacher Education

First Advisor

Susan McClelland

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Even though the United States is more diverse than ever before in its history, selected literary texts in the secondary English curriculum have largely remained the same over past decades with minimal inclusion of multicultural literature - literature that is written by or about minority cultures. Multicultural literature is a subset of the greater idea of multicultural education, which is an education that is inclusive of all cultures with the goal of preparing all students to be productive citizens in a diverse, global society. Teachers are hesitant to use multicultural literature because of their implicit biases, neglect of inquiry, and limitations of literary theory. As a preservice teacher, I developed a unit with the goal of multicultural literature inclusion and collected work samples from high school students at my clinical placement in North Mississippi. Students and parents provided consent forms as approved by the University of Mississippi's International Review Board in order to have their work included in this research. After obtaining consent, I analyzed these work samples to determine the student's reading discourse as either universalist, individualist, eurocentric, or pluralistic. Students appealed to a combination of these reading discourses when engaging with multicultural literature. I also surveyed the students about their experience during the multicultural unit, and many students insisted that the unit could have been improved with a more diverse selection of texts and more discussion of race and culture. For multicultural literature to be effective, teachers must be professionals of inquiry as they expand their content knowledge, and they must instruct students in literary theory when analyzing literary texts. The study concluded that teachers need to continue challenging themselves and their students to approach multicultural literature in the secondary classroom to best prepare students for collaboration in the twenty-first century.

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