Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching


Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Education


College of Education


Jorgensen, Donna W.


American literature--Study and teaching (Secondary); Multiculturalism in literature


Secondary Education and Teaching


The purpose of this qualitative study was to evaluate why high school students in America study American literature that includes a majority of writers of white western European descent and excludes writers of multicultural backgrounds. This study also analyzed if exposure to works by multicultural writers changes students' perceptions of what constitutes American literature. The participants included 3 classes of American literature students (N=44) and American literature teachers (N=6) in a predominantly white high school. The study included a combination of textbook content analysis, teacher interviews, and an intervention consisting of a Latino literature unit taught to student participants. Key ideas in teacher interviews and student pre- and post-intervention writing responses and class discussions were categorized and analyzed for dominant themes. Conclusions found that teachers teach based heavily on textbook content that is largely by white authors and is also chronologically based. The study also showed that students exhibit attitude changes toward American literature when exposed to multicultural literature but that long-term intense intervention may be necessary for permanent changes. The implications on American literature curriculum are discussed.