The Teaching of Literature and Culture 
The role of literature and culture in the classroom is undergoing a dramatic 
evolution in light of the developments of the twenty-first century. The changes 
brought about by the global economy and the precipitous growth of technology have 
transformed the role of literature and culture for today’s world. Literature is 
no longer seen as an isolated discipline worthy of the humanists alone; culture 
is no longer seen as an all-inclusive phenomenon. As a result, educators and 
scholars alike must re-evaluate the ways we think of literature and culture.  
These include, but are not limited to, the ways they are taught, their influence 
on other disciplines, their holistic appeal, their broadening scope, and their 
overall imprint on how we view ourselves and others. 

Literature and culture are not exclusive to each other, but rather an integrated 
portal to the mores of societies past and present. For example, one of this 
issue’s featured articles, “Henry V, the Gulf War, and Cultural Materialism,” 
uses literature as an insight to modern events and brings the lessons of history 
into the modern age.  

One can argue that literature is often the conveyer of culture, in terms of content, 
politics, pedagogy, perspective, recount, and language. Simply by reading or 
translating literature, one inevitably learns about culture. However, the role of 
literature in the communicative foreign and second language classroom has been 
questioned in recent years in light of an increased emphasis on listening and 
speaking skills.  In addition, students have been expected to complete a regimented 
curriculum of composition, conversation, and grammar courses before being deemed 
“ready” for the literature classroom.  However, recent views see that literature 
can actually be used to enhance the modern language classroom, as illustrated in 
“Literature in the Modern Language Syllabus.” The proliferation of computer 
technologies has even further enhanced the opportunities to integrate language 
and culture. 

Indeed, thanks in part to the digital age, student populations are more diverse 
than ever before, resulting in the varied teaching practices, as in “Icon Poetry:  
Literature for the Non-Literate,” and learning strategies geared toward special 
and gifted education groups.  Also, the presence of diverse populations enriches 
our classrooms and promotes dialogue on subjects ranging from international 
teaching styles to larger issues of race, class, and gender and the educational 

As this issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly demonstrates, the integration of 
culture and literature into the consciousness of research and scholarship can 
only serve to enrich our understanding of others and ourselves.

Dr. Rebecca L. Chism
Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Pedagogy at Kent State University, OH