We're not much to look at: resisting representations of rurality using a critical rural perspective

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Addressing the challenges and silences faced by rural schools and students is a matter of social justice, making rural issues a valid and needed topic for classroom study. This project addresses the minimal curricular presence of contemporary rural literary representations in the secondary English classroom. It investigates rural depictions in several Young Adult (YA) novels which reveal the persistent presence of stereotypical depictions of rural people and places. Because of the presence of these stereotypes, this project offers an analysis tool for engaging with rural texts called the Critical Rural Perspective. This paper also examines some possible benefits of using rural YA literature in the classroom. When contemporary rural YA novels are read in the classroom, students can transfer their understanding of the discursive construction of rurality seen in textual representations to the ways that language is used to create what it means to be rural. By becoming aware of the construction of rural identity, students can analyze, resist, and manipulate the single story of rurality which can set the stage for a more nuanced societal understanding of rural people.




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