Published in English Education, Volume 44, Issue 3, April 1, 2012, pages 215-253.
English educators at all levels have endeavored to understand difference in their classrooms both in terms of the content that they teach and in terms of the social and cultural identities of students in their classrooms. However, although educators have come a long way in understanding identity as it is constituted by race and gender, much work is needed for social class identity to be understood with nuance and complexity. This article explores the salience of class identity as it affects one aspect of learning in the English classroom--literary interpretation. Specifically, this article draws on data from a six-week literature circle unit in which four white, socioeconomically diverse students discussed Dorothy Allison's "Bastard Out of Carolina". By examining and uncovering the students' social class identity performances as they influenced both their participation and interpretations in the literature circle, this article sheds light on the significance of social class identity in the English classroom and makes a case for the importance of a more thorough consideration of social class in teaching and research in English education.
English Language and Literature