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(Under)mining the canon: engaging Alberta high school students in the value(s) of literature Open Access


Other title
teaching literature
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Metzner, Janine
Supervisor and department
Braz, Albert (Comparative Literature)
Examining committee member and department
Sywenky, Irene (Comparative Literature and East European Studies)
Johnston, Ingrid (English Education and Curriculum Studies)
Comparative Literature

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis explores the issues surrounding the teaching of English to high school students in the province of Alberta. Its central premise is that high school students studying academic English are increasingly skeptical about the value of literature, and subsequently lack engagement with the subject area. In support of this contention is a review of the forces that have shaped canon formation and curriculum development since the mid-twentieth century, an interrogation of the documents, policies and precedents that guide the selection of texts in the classroom as well as instructional practices, and an examination of the limitations of continuing to employ the interpretive strategies of New Criticism as a primary method of explication. A selection of some of the most commonly taught texts in the province demonstrates the importance of disrupting the literal, common sense readings that often arise within the impartiality of New Criticism.
License granted by Janine Metzner ( on 2010-09-24 (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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