01 August 2010
Teaching multilingual literature in the classroom
In a 1983 article in The Modern Language Journal, Judith A. Myskens wrote that “very little mention of methods of teaching literature is made in teacher preparation materials.” Someone writing today, almost thirty years later, would probably still be able to say the same thing. Teachers assume that teaching literature is exactly the same as teaching language, or worse, teaching science. Attention is paid more to facts (names and biographies of authors, meanings of words, literary histories based on dates and events, structures of sentences, grammar, that sort of thing) rather than to literariness. This lack of sophistication in the teaching of literature works against multilingual literature, because students need much more than literary tools when dealing with entire subcultures or even cultures brought into a work that uses more than one language. Literary critics cannot stay only within the confines of academic discourse; they have to start thinking about the implication of multilingualism on actual classroom practice.