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National Council of Teachers of English


Once upon a time, most classes, in both schools and universities, focused on historical events shaped by white men, scientific discoveries made by white men, philosophies constructed by white men, and literary and artistic works created by white men. This time was not so long ago-and during some of our lifetimes. Since at least the late 1960s, this normative maleness and whiteness-which always claimed to be universal-has been challenged by the development of ethnic studies, women's and gender studies, and multiculturalism. Especially in literary studies-and nowhere more than in the field of American literature-the canon has exploded, as more works by writers of color and white women writers have entered it (while very little work by white male writers has exited-the dire predictions of opponents of multiculturalism notwithstanding). In turn, syllabi, anthologies, curricula, and scholarship have changed to include a far more diverse array of writers, texts, voices, and experiences than had been included even ten, let alone thirty or forty years ago. Most universities' student bodies have become much more diverse- culturally, ethnically, linguistically, experientially, socioeconomically. Although faculty diversity has not increased nearly as much and while not all teachers and disciplines have been equally influenced by multiculturalism, for the most part, what is taught-to whom and by whom-is very different in 2005 than it was in 1960.


Copyright © 2005 National Council of Teachers of English.



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