Making Multiculturalism: Boundaries and Meaning in U.S. English Departments

Synopsis

Multiculturalism was a hot issue on college campuses in the 1990s, and it was a confusing issue, especially for English professors. Making Multiculturalism ventures into four college English departments to explore how professors made sense of multiculturalism. Their answers provide important insights into the "canon wars," multiculturalism, and cultural change.

Defining meaning as a system of boundaries, Bryson uncovers specific mechanisms through which social institutions preserve themselves by imposing old meanings on new ideas. She connects those insights to some of today's most difficult cultural policy challenges, including campus (or workplace) diversity, individual responsibility, and the policy pitfalls of defining culture as something separate from social life. Bryson contends that cultural policy should abandon the "norms and values" definition of culture as individual beliefs and focus instead on the cultural implications of structure.

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