Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through the Local

Engaging Students in International Literature Through Connections to Personal Experience and Culture

by Jacquelyn Chappel (Author)
©2019 Textbook XII, 124 Pages


Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through the Local presents a critique of multicultural education, which tends to focus on multiculturalism at the expense of a truly international curriculum. While lessons in multiculturalism are oftentimes well intentioned, this book begins with the premise that we do a disservice by imparting lessons in international culture and history through multiculturalism, which can perpetuate insularity even as it claims to promote global coverage. The book offers background on World Literature, a term used for one hundred years to refer to a global literary tradition; reviews the numerous challenges of reading cross culturally; and provides an overview of cosmopolitanism, a two-thousand-year-old concept referring to our ability to appreciate cultures and nations different from our own. The book also shares the stories of three teachers who engaged their students with international literature by connecting texts topically or thematically with the students’ lived experiences. The book closes with suggested curriculum on modern Chinese literature. Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through the Local provides important and practical background information invaluable to courses on literacy, children’s literature, multicultural education, and global studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Praise for Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through the Local
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures and Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. My Own Experience Teaching World Literature
  • 3. Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through Shared Personal Experience: The Case of University Laboratory School
  • 4. Reading the Bhagavad Gita at a Buddhist School: Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through Shared Religious Ideas
  • 5. Engaging Student Ethnic Identity at a Hawaiian School: Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through Culture-Based Values
  • 6. Conclusion
  • 7. Modern Chinese Literature Curriculum (with Yun Peng)
  • Contributor Biography
  • Index

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Figures and Tables


Figure 1.1: World, Global and International Literature in K–12 Curriculum.


Table 5.1: Makawalu Literary Perspectives (Excerpt).

Table 5.2: Working Exit Outcome (WEO) English Language Arts (ELA) Anchor Standards (Excerpt).

Table 7.1: Scene Analysis, “Iron Child.”

Table 7.2: Scene Analysis, “Hands.”

Table 7.3: Scene Analysis Continued, “Hands.”

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I would like to thank Margaret Maaka for taking me on as an advisee; Hannah Tavares for providing feedback on early chapters; Patricia Halagao for her enthusiasm; Todd Sammons for his long-standing and multifaceted support; Charlotte Frambaugh-Kritzer for her steadfast support; Julie Kaomea for her sage counsel and advice; Phan Le Ha for pushing me to write and publish; Subramanian Shankar for indulging my questions; Britton Brooks, Jade Higa, and Laura Wang for providing early feedback and encouragement, particularly to Laura Wang for bringing Amy Tan’s memoir to my attention; Mary Chang who encouraged the completion of this book project; Suzanne Choo for providing counsel as my research questions were first percolating; Sarah Twomey for her early support and for facilitating the professional development opportunities that led to the development of the curriculum in this book; Yun Peng whose expertise and insights made much of this book possible; Rich Milner for his encouragement to publish immediately; Erin Kahunawai Wright for her encouragement and practical insights; Rodney Morales for his insights on local literature in Hawai‘i; Bill Teter and Monica Ka‘imipono for sharing their teacher journeys; the ← ix | x → English Department at the University of Hawai‘i, whose coursework and department culture planted the seeds for exploration on issues of authenticity and representation; all the teachers who shared with me their experiences of teaching “World Literature”; and the peer reviewers and editors, Sarah Bode and Megan Madden, who recognized the value of this project. Thank you.

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Chapter One


Today, many educators regard multicultural education as a positive, worthwhile, and even benign goal. Multicultural education, which James Banks defined as pedagogy designed to “reform schools and other education institutions … so that students from diverse racial, ethnic, and social-class groups will experience educational equality” (Banks, 1993) is aimed at broadening school curriculum to include the voices and histories of marginalized individuals. Multicultural education began with an interest in sharing those stories which had been rendered invisible. Multicultural curriculum, often regarded as a means to promote tolerance and open mindedness among our students, aligns with many of the goals of education itself—which seeks to create ethically-minded, civicly-engaged individuals. Despite these seemingly innocuous goal, multicultural education has been critiqued on many fronts.

In the 1990s, conservatives such as E. D. Hirsch (1988) and Alan Bloom (1987) critiqued multicultural education for contributing to the dissolution of a common cultural heritage and national identity. While defenders of multiculturalism pointed out the need to include the voices of ethnic minorities long absent from formal school curricula, ← 1 | 2 → traditionalists defended the importance of a shared national heritage and the need for schools to impart cultural literacy.

Liberals too have critiqued multicultural education for its overemphasis on superficial differences such as holidays and tradition. Some pointed out that in practice multicultural education often devolves into lessons on food, clothing, and holidays that do not necessarily promote tolerance or understanding. This “three F’s approach … to food, folk/festivals and fun” exoticizes difference and avoids engagement with structural inequalities in schools and in society (Richardson, 2011, p. 108). “[L]ook[ing] at culture through [these] categories actually reinforce[s] stereotypes and mainstream domination,” Fox and Short point out (2003, p. 22).

Multicultural education has been critiqued for its narrow definition which often applies only to marginalized ethnicities. Excluding the stories and experiences of marginalized genders (Pang, 2001; Sleeter & Grant, 1999), multicultural education focuses too heavily on race, ethnicity, and class and overlooks the experiences of gay, transgender, and queer individuals as well as the disabled, whose stories are acutely important to the young people navigating these identities and experiences (Loutzenheiser, 1996; Loutzenheiser & MacIntosh, 2004).


XII, 124
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XII, 124 pp., 1 b/w ill., 5 tbl.

Biographical notes

Jacquelyn Chappel (Author)

Jacquelyn Chappel received her BA from Dartmouth College and completed her MA and PhD at the University of Hawaii. She currently teaches English and education in the University of Hawaii system. Her previous publications appear in the Journal of Curriculum Studies, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, and English Journal.


Title: Engendering Cosmopolitanism Through the Local