Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Imperial pedagogy: Education and nationalism in early twentieth-century U.S. literature
by Mangino, Robin A., Ph.D., Tufts University, 2010, 168; 3403441
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines literary critiques of colonizing educational programs that aimed to contain the intellectual, political, and economic aspirations of racial and ethnic minorities, binding color to class location through what I am calling imperial pedagogy. I argue that Zitkala-Ša, Pauline Hopkins, and Anzia Yezierska claim the machinery of early twentieth-century U.S. schooling worked to consolidate the nation’s internal empire through pedagogical technologies. Offering counterhegemonic representational strategies and Freirean pedagogical paradigms, their narratives foreground the tension between education’s disciplinary power and its liberatory potential.

Tracing the circulation of colonial education from Hawai’i to post-Civil War America via Hampton Institute founder General Samuel Armstrong, Chapter One, “Imperial Pedagogy in the U.S.: History, Ideology, and Literary Resistance,” emphasizes the ideological and methodological connections between Armstrong and other educators for empire: his protégée, the “wizard” of Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington, Colonel Richard Henry Pratt, architect of the Indian boarding school system, and Progressive Era educational reformers, from philanthropists and educators to pluralist settlement house workers and eugenicist social scientists—the aptly named “agents of clean society” in Yezierska’s fiction.

In Chapter Two, “Indigenous Pedagogy, Imperial Education, and Zitkala-Ša’s ‘Practical Demonstration of Domestic Science,’” I analyze Zitkala-Ša’s presentation of Dakota pedagogical traditions in American Indian Stories, which underscores how Indigenous education and the cultural ideals that inform it dramatically oppose the competitive individualism, corporate ideologies, and patriarchal authoritarianism promoted in Indian boarding schools. Chapter Three, “Pauline Hopkins’s Educational Argument in Contending Forces,” examines the disempowering impact of the Hampton-Tuskegee industrial curriculum on African Americans and demonstrates that Hopkins’s novel reveals and resists the disciplinary domesticity these institutions manufactured. Chapter Four, “Education, Efficiency, and Eugenics in Anzia Yezierska’s Fiction,” reads Yezierska’s articulation of the symbiotic intimacy between racialized science and capitalism in “Soap and Water” and All I Could Never Be and claims these texts show how the ideological production of “scientific” knowledge and its codification of difference reinforce a differentiating curriculum designed to adapt immigrants to factory labor and values. Weaving a narrative history of imperial educational practice in the U.S., these authors’ literary interventions inscribe a legacy of decolonizing pedagogy in American literature.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ammons, Elizabeth
Commitee: Sharpe, Christina, Srikanth, Rajini, Weiler, Kathleen
School: Tufts University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, American studies, Education history, American literature
Keywords: Imperial pedagogy, Nationalism
Publication Number: 3403441
ISBN: 978-1-109-76970-8
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