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Reading Canonical Texts in Multicultural Classrooms

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This essay explores the complexity of imposing texts that are considered part of the English literary canon on students from multicultural backgrounds. It considers the rhetoric of the coalition government, in the recent drive to emphasize the importance of the literary heritage and return to English culture and how its impact has been felt in the classroom. It focuses mainly on the teaching of The Scarlet Letter to a Year 9 class and the issues presented when teaching it to a class of learners from very different ethnic backgrounds. It considers whether the true value of studying these texts is worthwhile for very different reasons from the social and cultural ones that have driven recent educational policy in England.
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Keywords: canonical text; multiculturalism; social relations in the classroom

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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