Cultural politics and the English curriculum : description and critical examination of the subject English as a site of ideological struggle.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis comprises a description and critical examination of the school curriculum subject, English, as a site of ideological struggle. Its main premise is that the struggle for 'ownership' of the subject is not a new one but has spanned over a century. The argument endeavours to explore the idea that English is unlike any other curriculum area in that it has, since the mid to late nineteenth century, been regarded as a subject which has the potential to effect social transformation. This issue of social transformation or 'social engineering' is at the heart of much of the current criticism which surrounds English pedagogy. The thesis shows how the framework for the arguments associated with social engineering or social transformation can change depending upon certain social, political and historical variables. Because I am a feminist educator I have set my arguments against a background of the personal locations which I believe have contributed to my interest in the topic. Next, I place my ideas in a theoretical and political framework and look at some of the current attitudes to English and its teachers. Following this I explore the history of the subject in order to show how criticism and struggle are typical of the subject's development. Finally, I examine contemporary approaches to English teaching in order to demonstrate how and why the ideological struggles which English has wrestled with have reached a new stage of intensity in the 1990's.