Abstract

High schools across the country are restructuring their curricular frameworks to meet the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which emphasize an understanding of cultural diversity in addition to critical thinking and literacy. Despite curricular variance among high schools, the significant roles non-white races have played in constructing a pluralistic America, and the increasing importance of U.S. minorities in global economic sectors, many history/social studies courses fall short of presenting culturally diverse material to students. This paper presents a theoretical argument for using New Historicism, a method of literary criticism, in high school literature/English education courses to meet the goals of the CCSS while generating greater discussion about and appreciation for the contributions of diverse cultural narratives. Using three case studies, one on a U.S. history textbook analysis, another in an English classroom, and a third on a letter written in 1852 by two Asians to the then Governor of California, this paper reveals a striking lack of discussion about cultural diversity in the secondary curricula and demonstrates the historical and cultural richness that can be illuminated in the classroom via New Historicism.

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