Questions All (Future) Educators Should Ask Themselves

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From Keesey’s Introduction to Chapter 7, “Historical Criticism II: Culture as Context”:

“One result of this emphasis has been a number of investigations into literary study itself as a cultural practice.  What gets defines as ‘literature,’ what texts gets assigned in schools and colleges, what kinds of topics get discussed in classes and in standard exams?  And who decides the answers to these questions?” (413)

I think I’m going to like this re-vamped type of historicism.  I like schools that include other schools, and this school seems to try to include many of them.  I also think it’s very appropriate to be our last school since it does include formalism, poststructuralism, and historicism (410). 

I also really like how cultural critics are willing to criticize pretty much everything whether it be a TV show, a book, a movie, or “graffiti” (412).  I suppose this is kind of contradictory to what I said earlier about postmodernism.  I voiced my concern that postmodernism might encroach on other areas of our lives such as our religious beliefs.  Yet here is “Historical Criticism II” and I’m saying that I like that it can be applied to everything.  I suppose that this simply has to do with the fact that while deconstructionism is one of new historicism’s facets, it is not its only one.  I think the main problem with poststructuralism is how far people may take it and these cultural critics seem to have tempered poststructuralism enough that its main goal is not to prove that there is no meaning in anything. 

This new historicism instead focuses on questions like those in my quote above.  All of these questions seem particularly relevant to me since I intend to enter the educational field.  These focus on how culture forces all of us to take a step back and consider the things we take for granted.  It’s a topic we discuss frequently in Literature for YA.  Should we teach all contemporary books to relate to kids?  Should we teach only the classics which are trule “literature”?  Should we purposely teach the same number of books by men as by women?  The questions and considerations could go on and on.  And in the end, as the teacher and designer of my own curriculum I will be the one to answer these questions.  But what biases do I have?  Should I teach a book I hate because there is perceivable value in it?  What biases of my own may I unwittingly project onto my students?  There really is no end to these questions.  I guess the only real assurance I can give myself (or anyone else) is that by being aware of these considerations we can be less controlled by them.  And I think that is largely what this type of historicism is all about—realizing what lenses we see through and realizing that there are other ones besides our own.  So it’s kind of what this whole course has been about.  We try on different lenses and even though there are some we prefer over others, we now know they exist and can use them if necessary and be more aware because we know they exist. 

Read what my peers say about “Historical Criticism II”. 

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