Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


(compare Dominant Culture USA)

thanks to

Oxford English Dictionary: The characteristics of a multicultural society; (also) the policy or process whereby the distinctive identities of the cultural groups within such a society are maintained or supported.

Wikipedia: Multiculturalism describes the existence, acceptance, or promotion of multiple cultural traditions within a single jurisdiction, usually considered in terms of the culture associated with an ethnic group. 

contrast assimilation, melting pot metaphor, dominant culture, All-Americanism

compare: diversity, pluralism,

compare pluralism, salad-bowl or patchwork-quilt metaphor in contrast to melting pot.

Multicultural literature (Its opposite, taught primarily at conservative private and / or religious schools, is sometimes described as "traditional" or "excellence.")

Challenge for teachers: Does everyone read the same authors in effort to recognize shared qualities of humanity and unique qualities of culture? Or do we read what we most identify with, what looks or seems most like ourselves?

For testing or standards: What authors or texts are students expected to know?

Multicultural Literature. Multicultural Literature. Definition. Literature about the sociocultural experiences of underrepresented groups. This literature includes those who fall outside the “mainstream” of categories such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, language. (

Implications: not about "dominant culture," variously identified with "mainstream" or maleness, whiteness, over-representation, privilege / resources, Christianity, etc.

Old and new canons of literature:

Risks: separation between "mainstream" culture and multicultural identities, despite connections. > adversarial competition between ins and outs, privileged and marginalized.

Application for American Immigrant Literature:

"A nation of immigrants" attempts to put everyone in same boat, but the boat arrived at different times and under different conditions--and some Americans were already here.


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