Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Su, John

Second Advisor

Melamed, Jodi

Third Advisor

Boly, John


The teaching of multicultural literature in English classrooms has focused on a liberal rather than critical approach. The liberal multicultural approach focuses on pluralism, which is actually a form of assimilationism that denies ethnic difference and silences racial conflict. This silencing produces a new kind of racial grief where ethnic and racial identities are ignored and the expectation is for racialized figures to get over their losses.I believe we should focus on a critical multiculturalism that critiques assimilationism and recognizes racial grief. I assert that English instructors should teach an interpretive strategy called reading melancholically. I am defining melancholia as a mode of reading that encourages a distrustful attitude towards the master narrative of assimilationism. My reading technique critiques systemic racism rather than focusing on expectations for ethnic minority figures to deny their grief. In this manner, melancholic reading is a critique of systemic oppression and works towards dismantling systems of power. Melancholic reading practice allows teachers and students to analyze texts in meaningful ways that shine light on minority figures that seek to maintain their ethnic identities.