Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MA English

Department

English

Advisor

Kelly A. Shea, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Jones, Ph.D.

Keywords

Publishing industry, Education and Technology, Standardized testing, Pedagogy and Social media, Canon, E-textbooks, New Adult Literature

Abstract

Certain outdated canonical texts have played a huge part in the oppression of minorities and women (Platt), and within the last 20 years or so, research has shown that these “difficult” texts do nothing to help foster a healthy thirst for knowledge outside of the classroom. My purpose is to demonstrate how the educational system – in particular, how reading and writing are taught from elementary school up until college – drives the publishing market, and thus, causes texts like Twilight to sit alongside the best seller list with To Kill a MockingBird. I will argue that there is a psychological and neurological need within millennial readers to buy simpler texts, and that removing archaic texts from the canon and replacing them with books that better reflect the socio-cultural aspects of today will help students develop better critical and analytical thinking skills. Finally, I will also explore the political side of the problem with the canon – meaning, why is it that outdated and non-inclusive texts are still considered “classical” despite ample evidence that they do nothing to help students learn and even harm students’ abilities to think beyond the walls of the classroom (Allington and Woodside-Jiron 11)? My solution to the problem of the canon will be three-fold in that it argues for a political, social, and cultural revolution so that millennials and generations to come will not drive a book market that features oversexed and oversimplified writing. Rather, these readers will relish the validity of complex characters and situations that reflect who they are.

Comments

Works Cited

Allington, Richard L. and Haley Woodside-Jiron. "The Politics of Literacy Teaching: How "Research" Shaped Educational Policy." Educational Researcher, no. 8, 1999, p. 4-12.

Platt, Anthony M. "Defenders of the Canon: What's behind the Attack on Multiculturalism." Social Justice, no. 2 (48), 1992, p. 122.

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