Volume 63, Issue 4 p. 433-441
Feature Article

Dismantling Winning Stories: Lessons From Applying Critical Literature Pedagogy to The Odyssey

First published: 14 August 2019
Citations: 3


In teaching canonical literature, presuming a text's merit and infallibility can inhibit the development of critical thought and may transmit values that are not socially and politically just. The author describes how educators can promote academic literacy and critical consciousness in their students through pedagogy that helps students critically analyze canonical texts, specifically the ancient Greek epic poem The Odyssey by Homer. By implementing critical literature pedagogy, students can deconstruct problematic ideologies embedded in The Odyssey, such as the text's promotion of patriarchy, violence against women, and sexual double standards. Using scholarship and examples of lessons and student work from an all-male high school English classroom, the author demonstrates strategies that allow students to identify and disrupt dominant narratives that try to shape their actions and thoughts, and instead construct counternarratives that are more sociopolitically just and inclusive of perspectives marginalized or absent from the canon.