“Dialogic” as Diversity: Considering Bakhtin’s Theory of the Novel as Template for a Multi-cultural Curriculum in a Literature or Language Arts Classroom

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

20th century Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin argued that the nature of the novel is a subversive expression as it “denies the absolutism of a single and unitary language” and moves towards a “literary consciousness” that is no longer
“sacrosanct” or a “linguistic medium for containing ideological thought.” His theory of the novel as a “dialogue” for emerging voices, can also be applied to a multi-cultural curriculum. The way Bakhtin sees the novel as “a consciousness manifesting itself in the midst of social languages” makes this Community College teacher ask:why can’t an instructor’s curriculum reflect a similar
approach? This paper will consider how Bakhtin’s literary theory can augment such a multi-cultural curriculum as an ongoing workshop where various voices define the classroom, as opposed to the authoritarian voice of the instructor or institution.

Keywords: Bakhtin, Literary Theory, Multi-cultural Curriculum

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.101-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.127MB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Assistant Professor, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am an Associate Professor of Humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. USA. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue. As a teacher of Literature and Writing, I am constantly looking for new texts to help address the above issue. Besides finding new ways to address literacy, I am also trying to create non-traditional models of writing instruction for the classroom. I have recently been awarded a fellowship for Connecticut Community College instructors to do research at Yale University, with the focus on finding a way to internationalize your curriculum. I am presently doing research on a Madagascar-based exhumation ceremony known as “Famadihana” and how it creates a discourse between the living and the dead. I am trying to use this ceremony as a model for students to create a rhetorical discourse between past and present.

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