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In school whether it be at the high school or college levels there are usually lists of books thought as being essential reading Arthur M Schlesinger Jr--a Pulitzer Prize winning historian--calls this list in his book The Disuniting of America a canon or canonical literature A problem exists with this canon at least Schlesinger claims there is He states that the canon is being used as an instrument of European oppression enforcing the hegemony of the white race the male sex and the capitalist class From my high school experience I believe this is not true At my high school teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature but also to study the great writers of other cultures There is a great deal of European influence in American society and in American education Some people like the Afrocentrists feel that this influence is too heavy and that schools should also be teaching about other cultures in their classes Schlesinger states in his book that he believes in the importance of teaching Americans the history of other cultures--East Asia Latin America the Middle East Africa Polynesia Since we live in a multicultural society we should be teaching a multicultural curriculum At my high school I feel as if I received this type of education The teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature but also to study the great writers of other ethnicities My high school is a private college preparatory institution in San Francisco Some authors whose works we read in our English classes consisted of Shakespeare Mark Twain Jane Austen Ovid Maya Angelou Chaim Potok John Steinbeck Amy Tan Chinua Achebe and C S Lewis This curriculum is not at all what Schlesinger claims to be the current American literary canon Emerson Jefferson Melville Whitman Hawthorne Thoreau Lincoln Twain Dickinson William and Henry James Henry Adams Holmes Dreiser Faulknner O Neill We touched
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