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The “we’re fortunate” syndrome

June 17, 2011

In her discussion of the problem with ‘International Literature’ (the kind of literature a teacher might choose for his/her students to demonstrate life in another place – and, supposedly, expand horizons), Susan Louise Stewart advises that we “have to be wary of the ‘we’re fortunate’ syndrome.  That is, ‘we’re fortunate we don’t live in a land where (fill in the blank depending on the text)’…. Yes,” she writes, “we are fortunate to live in a country where we don’t have to dodge bombs on a daily basis, but the ‘we’re fortunate’ syndrome is symptomatic of a somewhat solipsistic attitude, one where the reader refocuses attention on our lives rather than focusing on the lives of others.” (p103)

Ref: (all emphases mine) Susan Louise Stewart (2008) ‘Beyond Borders: Reading ‘Other’ Places in Children’s Literature’ Children’s Literature in Education 39; 95-105

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