Multiculturalism Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Stephen J. Whitfield (essay date summer 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Whitfield, Stephen J. “The Mystique of Multiculturalism.” Virginia Quarterly Review 72, no. 3 (summer 1996): 429-45.

[In the following essay, Whitfield traces the evolution of multiculturalism as a field of academic study within the disciplines of history and literature since the 1950s, identifying several theoretical discrepancies and inconsistencies in multicultural scholarship.]

Little more than a century ago, the Atlantic Monthly published a poem entitled “The Unguarded Gates” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, one of those authors whom a Tammany Hall wit was fond of dismissing as “name-parted-in-the-middle aristocrats”:

Wide open...

(The entire section is 5830 words.)

Jeanne J. Smoot (essay date May 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Smoot, Jeanne J. “Multiculturalism, Censorship, and the Postmodern Assault on the Canon: Classical Answers to Contemporary Dilemmas.” Comparatist 24 (May 2000): 30-8.

[In the following essay, Smoot examines several of the dominant theories which helped multiculturalism reshape the literary canon in higher education in the United States.]

If we accept the simple premise that what we read influences who we are, then curricular matters in general and the concept of a canon in particular have profound political implications. Almost any dictator seeks to restrict what his subjects read, to control the flow of information, ideas, and philosophies. A free society,...

(The entire section is 4617 words.)

Laurie Grobman (essay date spring 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Grobman, Laurie. “Toward a Multicultural Pedagogy: Literary and Nonliterary Traditions.” MELUS 26, no. 1 (spring 2001): 221-40.

[In the following essay, Grobman explores how multicultural literature has—or has not—been integrated into the teaching of modern literary theory, commenting that, “[w]hen we allow and encourage our students to consider a text in its many literary and nonliterary traditions, we bring students into the debates of multiculturalism.”]


Over the last two decades, coincident with the broadening of the literary canon, multicultural scholars...

(The entire section is 6910 words.)

Bonnie TuSmith (essay date summer 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: TuSmith, Bonnie. “The Significance of the ‘Multi’ in ‘Multiethnic Literatures of the U.S.’” MELUS 26, no. 2 (summer 2002): 5-14.

[In the following essay, derived from a lecture delivered at the 2001 MELUS Conference, TuSmith challenges teachers to deal directly and frankly with the issue of race and racial identity in teaching multicultural texts.]

“She starts up the stairs to bed. ‘Don't get me up with the rest in the morning.’ ‘But I thought you were having midterms.’ ‘Oh, those,’ she comes back in, kisses me, and says quite lightly, ‘in a couple of years when we'll all be atom-dead they won't matter a bit.’” Some of you...

(The entire section is 3821 words.)