Article in English in Australia

Posted in: Writing | 0

This paper is prompted by my experience as a researcher of English literary education in three different geographies over the past three years: Canada, the United Kingdom and now Australia. In response to the call to consider Futures for English for this special issue, I begin by thinking about the English literary inheritances I’ve experienced across these three geographies and what I’ve come to describe as a feeling of affective white déjà vu. Affect theory, as I will discuss below, concerns atmospheres, surfaces, bodies, emotions, moods, vicinities and capacities. Sometimes affect clings to a body; other times it slides past it, landing elsewhere. Drawing on affect theory, critical race scholarship and discussions of whiteness, I argue that despite continued local attempts at diversification of English literary education, whiteness continues to circulate through and cling to many of the core texts, narratives and messages that make up English literary education. This whiteness is general and specific, global and local, obvious and hidden. Rather than attempting to discuss the literary canon as a whole, I focus on a specific literary text as an example of how whiteness circulates as neutral or normal in literary education, even in a text that’s often framed as helping (white) students learn about racism.