Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leslie Wade


This study explores issues of multiculturalism in contemporary American plays that deal with education. The project begins by identifying the value which the American social order places upon education. It next analyzes the shifting and multiple definitions and connotations of "culture" and "multiculturalism," probing the possible implications of multicultural education for American society. Seven contemporary American plays (all of which place a primary focus upon the educational system and/or process) are examined: Uncommon Women and Others, the one-act and full-length versions of Open Admissions, Children of a Lesser God, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Another Antigone, and Oleanna. Specific emphasis is given to the representation of the educational system and how multicultural concepts bear upon education, individual cultural entities, and the general social order. The study concludes by synthesizing the individual analyses. We find that, contrary to the American ideal which views education as a vehicle for developing individual opportunity and fostering social change, the educational system, as represented in these plays, acts as a conservative force, one which maintains existing social patterns, fails to accommodate marginalized groups, and functions as an impediment to diversity.