How Culturally Diverse Are Text Selections in Dutch Literary Education?
An Analysis of Reading Tips, Teaching Packs, and Student Choices
Internationally, the cultural diversity of secondary literary education is often analyzed by examining teachers’ text selections. This article broadens this scope by exploring the cultural diversity of text selections in an educational system in which students have much autonomy to choose literary texts themselves. Using Dutch literary education as a case study, the article considers text selections from the perspective of both teachers, teaching packs, and student choices. Specifically, three dimensions of diversity in text selection are analyzed: gender, ethnicity, and national diversity (Netherlands versus Flanders).
Focusing on (1) reading tips given by teachers to students, (2) contents of frequently used teaching packs, and (3) book selections by students in upper-secondary education, the analysis reveals that Dutch literary education has much to gain in terms of diversity. Female and non-western authors are underrepresented, while Flemish authors are considerably less represented than Dutch authors. Almost without exception, this imbalance between male and female, western and non-western, increased when the number of unique authors in text selections was compared with the total number of selections of specific authors. Hence, the article argues that the cultural hierarchy in which ‘literature’ is automatically associated with male, western authors is very present in literary education.
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