Diversity in the English Classroom: Global Feminist Literature

Julie M. Barst writes “Pedagogical Approaches to Diversity in the English Classroom: A Case Study of Global Feminist Literature” which contemplates the ways that expressing issues of diversity in classrooms can be challenging for instructors.  This article explains that feminism, as a study, is global in scope and that teaching the concepts strictly in English is very problematic.  The English studies classroom traditionally restricts literatures to those that have been written by the English or have an extremely close connection to the English studies. A Case Study of Global Feminist Literature provides some ideas about how we may allow for more perspectives. The example given to display the issue is of Larissa Behrendt’s book about Australia.  Barst has interviewed Larissa Behrendt about her studies in law and indigenous studies at the University of Technology in Sydney.  Behrendt states that the indigenous peoples were not a part of curriculums until about the 1990’s, and that she felt compelled to write a book about it.  Bart  teaches the contemporary novel titled Home, which is about the “stolen generations” of aboriginal children in Australia that were placed into boarding homes away from their families and then placed as servants in the homes of white families in order to be taught to assimilate.  Barst shares that “ironically the policy was called the Aborigines Protection Act,” and the instructor teaches historical contextual information informing the students about what had happened factually and how it connects to the book Home that she teaches in Australia.  She also mentions that the situation was very similar to Native American Boarding Schools in the United States.  I like this article because it gives some ideas about how we may teach global and minority feminism to our students.  When teaching Zitkala-Sa (1876-1938) , a narrative about a Native American women taken from her family and brought into a boarding school, it may be helpful to discuss the Native Aboriginal displacements in Australia as well, in order to demonstrate the scope of global feminist literature.

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