Across the United States, educators and administrators have been discussing whether classical literature still has a place within the high school classroom. Included in this discussion are the works of Jane Austen. And while Jane Austen’s texts have much to offer as far as discussion on gender and familial dynamics, economic and political tension, and, of course, societal norms (what our communities expect from us individually and as a whole), the texts present many challenges within the frameworks of today’s classroom. What we have come to know as “our” time is a rapidly changing environment filled with experiences and technologies foreign to those two centuries before us. The problem, then, with these evolving times is that the past becomes increasingly distant. Nevertheless, we read texts from various periods because they transport us to a time unlike our own. Therefore, it is the crossing of these two understandings that time and again presents great tension. How do we bridge the gap between the increasingly distant past and the morphing present? As far as literature is concerned in the classroom, it is important to keep this question in mind. Students of all ages are and will be questioning the purpose of reading classical literature. The 21st-century American classroom is a very diverse place. If we were to zoom in on a classroom in an urban city location, and again on one in a suburban location, and then again in a rural area, we would see incredible differences among the students. Yes, there are certain classroom experiences that are frequent and perhaps even universal; however, it is important to acknowledge the surroundings of students. Every student brings personal and previous experiences, attitudes, pre-conceived notions, and beliefs with them to school from their environment. Therefore, with such a diverse population congregated in one place, it is also important to note that each student will react to each text differently. There are many student demographics that educators must consider when creating curriculum for their students, gender being one of them. This research is centered particularly on male students and their interaction with Jane Austen texts in the classroom.
English and Secondary Education
Elizabeth Veisz (Thesis Director)
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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Jecrois, Maureen. (2014). Jane Austen and the 21st-Century Classroom. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 72. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/72
Copyright © 2014 Maureen Jecrois