Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2011 Ada Okun. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, English Literature Department

First Advisor

Lisa Smulyan

Second Advisor

Peter Schmidt


In this thesis I examine the purposes of education in a democratic society and the role of the literature classroom in fostering skills of democratic citizenship. I describe a notion of democracy as consciously reproductive for social change and a model of citizenship that respects difference while locating individuals in relation to community. I argue that literature has unique potential to cultivate the social, analytical, and imaginative capacities required for such citizenship. English literature teachers can actualize this potential through particular approaches to classroom dynamics and content. I explore these approaches by interweaving literature review and field research from a case study in an eleventh grade Global Multicultural Literature classroom. I focus on key aspects of the English teacher’s practice: facilitating dialogic discussion, creating a caring classroom environment, implementing a multicultural curriculum, connecting literature to students’ lives and society, and using literary analysis to illuminate texts’ sociopolitical relevance.