Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense

7-9-2010

Graduate Advisor

E. Wendy Saul, PhD.

Committee

Charles Fazzaro, Ed.D.

Nancy Singer, Ph.D.

Eric Turley, Ph. D.

Abstract

This study examines how children’s and adolescent’s literature promotes global awareness, cross-cultural understanding and cosmopolitanism. It proposes an alternative critical global perspective in the teaching of complex narratives dealing with socio-economic and political transformations in the developing world, with specific reference to South Asian societies. Reframing how transcultural literature is read, a critical global perspective combines global perspectives distilled from theories of development, human rights and international relations, Michel Foucault’s notion of discourse and critical analysis, and textual and visual analysis (Stephens, 1992; Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996). This multidimensional approach contributed 20 questions that explored the gap between cultural traditions and modernity, child and family rights, religious worldviews and secularism, humanitarianism and war. These questions were applied to 18 award-winning North American books, published from 1989 to 2009, to facilitate analysis of how texts, images, teaching guides and scholarly commentaries influence global education. Comparative analyses of the 18 texts reveal that while authors differ in their interpretations of societal transformation, education and educators are unanimously regarded as enablers of development, human rights and global peace. Nevertheless, first-person narrative devices, which are used to draw readers’ engagement into the global context, impede the potential of transcultural literature to equitably mediate cultural and political differences. Paradoxically, while some authors offer more nuanced narratives, the publisher’s teaching guide often perpetuates notions of an idealized American way of life. In the case of picture books, these guides neglect to integrate how visuals provide more nuanced religious, cultural, and socio-economic realities. The study concludes that these limitations are inadvertently fostered by the emphasis on text-self connections and reader relevance in the writing and teaching of literature (Keene and Zimmerman, 1997). These findings validate the need for a critical global perspective that strengthens text-world connections, which engender the desired outcome of a cosmopolitan global education.

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