Cultural politics in the English classroom : textually dangerous territory?
journal contributionposted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Claire CharlesClaire Charles
How might one approach cultural politics in the English classroom? What might the role of the class text be in these discussions? This article is a snapshot of the author's journey from a pre-service English teacher to her most recent experiences of English teaching. Her pre- service pedagogy indicated a 'minimization' of the role of the text in unpacking cultural politics; the text itself was overshadowed by the important points the teacher was making about critiquing the way the world is socially, culturally and politically organised. In her beginning teaching year, the author was in a remote rural school where she encountered attitudes to hegemonic masculinity and heterosexuality which she felt she did not deal appropriately with. She now believes that more emphasis on how the features of the text itself work to create meaning and construct identities is needed. She recognises the importance of close textual analysis as a way toward engaging in culturally political conversations about constructions of gender and sexuality in media and non-media texts. If she were to have her beginning teaching years over again, she would probably collate a series of contrasting representations of masculinity and femininity from a variety of sources, including popular culture. She would then develop activities based around undertaking textual analysis of the constructions of gender and sexuality, and ask students to identify the different elements in the texts that create meaning, and compare similarities and differences between texts.