Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

J. Howard Johnston, Ph. D.

Keywords

multicultural education, Public policy, High school literature canon

Abstract

This study compared the content of United States and American Literature textbooks adopted in Florida in 1991 and 2003 to determine any change in the inclusion of multiculturalism, as a response to public policy. Since Florida is a key adoption state, textbooks adopted would probably be reflective of national developments. To determine effects of public policy on literary selections appearing in high school United States and American literature textbooks, a variety of strategies was employed. Literary selections for each textbook and each adoption year were categorized by race and/or ethnicity and gender of the author, and genre of selections. In addition, content checklists based on character demographics and scholarship about multicultural literature were applied to all literary selections written by non-White authors appearing in both adoption years. Intra-rater reliability of the recorder was found to be .92. The most frequently anthologized literary selections writte

n by non-White authors were analyzed for emergent themes. Findings indicate that change in content of high school United States and American literature textbooks with respect to multiculturalism: a greater percentage of non-White authors and female authors appear in the 2003 adoption year. However, when genre of selections is considered, in both adoption years non-White authors and female authors were under-represented in the genres of short stories and plays, which are the longer selections. When non-White authors were added to the canon in 2003 it was most often in the genre of nonfiction where they were over-represented. In addition, with respect to character demographics and multicultural content, selections by non-White authors showed little change from 1991 to 2003. Finally, little change has occurred in themes of most frequently anthologized literary selections written by non-White authors from 1991 to 2003. Recommendations include improving content of United States and American

literature anthologies to include non-White and female authors in longer selections and a better range of genres. An implication of this study is that the high school United States and American literature canon remains traditional and largely unaffected by multiculturalism in spite of public policy.

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