Should the English Literature curriculum cover non-British works or not?

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Report Thread starter 8 months ago
When I did my GCSEs a few years ago (prior to the major curriculum overhaul) we looked at a mixture of British and American work in English Literature. We looked (if I recall correctly) at Romeo and Juliet (British), a British novel (Lord Of The Flies), an American play (A View From The Bridge) and an American novel (Of Mice And Men). Under the current curriculum, I know schools are only allowed to teach work by British authors, and personally I disagree with this. I feel that teaching a variety of English works that were written in different countries teaches students a wider variety of dialects, and English has many different dialects, not just the British ones. I also think that American English going back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries had more in common with modern British English than what British English did at the time, since British English has become a lot less formal in the past century (this change largely occured during the 1930s and 1940s) while American English has remained relatively similar.

Do you think it's important that the English literature schools teach is British, or should students be taught works from other English speaking countries as well?
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Report 8 months ago
In my opinion diversity of literature is really important and I don't think that prohibiting non-British authors is beneficial in any capacity. That being said, I understand that there are biases (conscious or otherwise) that mean that often even when non-British options are available, they aren't chosen by teachers. On the one hand, I can see why this happens, especially at GCSE because British texts are often most relevant to their other subjects, like History, given how central British history is to those curriculums. Furthermore, I think that not enough value is placed in British culture and so I would want to encourage students to study British literature more with a hopes that the society’s opinion of the creative arts improves. On the other hand, there is a lot of value in studying non-British works in that literature as a whole often reflects or even instigates historical events in certain cultures and so literature is a good way of learning more about the values and ideas circulating elsewhere at a particular historical moment. I also think that studying non-British works also helps us to understand other countries perspectives of Britain. And then aside from all of this, and possibly most importantly, non-British literature is fantastic, interesting and valuable in their own rights, outside of any societal benefits that they might bring and so I think that they should be studied for that reason too.

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