Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Tim Engles

Thesis Committee Member

Michael Loudon

Thesis Committee Member

Robin L. Murray


This thesis suggests that while mainstream multicultural education claims to promote both diversity and equality, it fails to adequately address, let alone improve, the living conditions of minority students. It further suggests that when teachers help students read through the lenses of critical multiculturalism and critical whiteness studies, students can better see that both canonical and non-canonical African American authors deliberately employ nuanced strategies to resist white supremacy. Specifically through the use of purposeful and discreet silences, these authors serve to promote new and actively counterhegemonic ways of thinking in the classroom.

Each chapter pairs two texts--one canonical and one lesser-taught--in order to expose the ways in which white supremacy is typically downplayed in the canonical texts by mainstream multiculturalists. Such educators also tend to ignore certain worthy noncanonical texts because, although their authors also deploy strategic silences, their exposure of white supremacy is in other ways more overt. Further, the thesis suggests that uncovering silences in the canonical works allows the authors' resistance to white supremacy to become more pronounced, and therefore, more of a threat to hegemonic social structures.