(1) Gender Bias in the High School Canon Novels: A Subversion of Power

Helen O’Hara Connell
Barry University

Abstract: This descriptive study investigates gender bias in the high school canon novels as identified by Arthur Applebee (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993). An historical survey of the teaching of literature in the high school precedes the content analysis of the seven novels. The historical survey shows that most of the novels entered the high school canon during the 1960s. During the past three decades, these works have been subjected to a variety of critical interpretations, as well as assorted pedagogical strategies. The content analysis of the seven novels uses several critical perspectives. Gender bias exists in the focus on male protagonists and in the generalized idea of females as a dangerous presence. More specifically, the siren/whore image of women pervades the canon novels. Other stereotypes include the asexual older woman as pedantic authority figure. Women characters are subjected to violence, but this violence is rationalized. The high school canon novels perpetuate the ideology of the white Euro/ Anglo male as oppressor.

Citation: Connell, H. O. (1995). Gender bias in the high school Canon novels: a subversion of power. Florida Journal of Educational Research, 35(1), 5-33.

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