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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter contends that foregrounding transnational approaches in classrooms provides opportunities to advocate the value of studying literary realism to students, administrators, and the broader community. Literature’s capacity to enable recognition, whether it leads to greater self-awareness or the acknowledgment of others, makes it a powerful tool for social justice, inspiring social movements and filling the emotional needs of the disempowered. Centering the teaching of realism on such authors as Charles Chesnutt, Abraham Cahan, and Sui Sin Far, who rendered the multicultural composition of the United States more legible, helps the academy’s increasingly diverse student body see themselves and one another in the long tradition of American literature. Assigning lesser-taught texts by William Dean Howells, Henry James, and other canonical authors demonstrates realism’s continued relevance, because these texts address the challenges of incorporating diversity into the body politic and the ethical implications of the United States’ global power.

Keywords: literary realism, pedagogy, politics of recognition, intersectionality, diversity, transnationalism

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