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A Norm Critical Approach to Teaching Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: Exploring Gender, Heteronormativity & Ableism
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A growing concern in educational institutions is the lack of a unified collegial effort

to address issues pertaining to discrimination. The Swedish National Agency of

Education (SNAE) has released several reports and articles this past decade (2009,

2010, 2016), in which no significant improvement has been observed in schools with

regard to discrimination pertaining to race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and

disability. An important finding illustrated in all reports is that norms are the cardinal

reason behind all discriminating conduct. Consequently, to address this problem,

SNAE suggests that a norm-critical perspective should be implemented in order to

hamper and change such behaviours (101). A core problem, however, is that not all

syllabi provide specific examples of how teachers can work with norms in the

classroom. Significantly, however, literature has shown to be a valuable gateway to

norm-criticism as it provides students with the opportunity to critically assess

problems presented in novels with a certain detachment; promoting a more objective

attitude and thus a deeper understanding of their own real-life situations (Rosenblatt

47). Thus, the aim of this thesis is to provide English teachers with a more concrete

point of departure in the discussion of norms by the use of literature, namely Charlotte

Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre (1847). More specifically, this essay critically examines the

notions of heteronormativity, gender and ableism to illustrate how hetero-norms,

gender-norms and disability-norms are both subverted and challenged in Jane Eyre,

often in unexpected ways. The concepts of the ‘male gaze’ and the ‘Other’ are

introduced, to demonstrate how this novel may be approached norm-critically in the

ambition to avert discriminatory behaviour. To exemplify how the reading of each

concept may have positive implications in teaching, I demonstrate how a fusion of

norm-critical pedagogy, critical literacy pedagogy and reader-response theory can be

fruitful to foster critical thinking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 39
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169829OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-169829DiVA, id: diva2:1326596
Presentation
(English)
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Available from: 2019-08-20 Created: 2019-06-18 Last updated: 2019-08-20Bibliographically approved

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