Pearl Nielsen

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. John Dudley

Second Advisor

Dr. Cindy Struckman-Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Sarah Townsend


Racism, pedagogy, psychology, literature

Subject Categories



This paper examines the psychological factors which motivate racist behaviors toward African Americans and the ways in which these discriminatory behaviors can affect the emotions and behaviors of their victims. This research, in addition to the included study of college students’ reactions to reading and discussing literature, attempts to prove that pedagogical discourse about the psychological effects of racial prejudice can cause an alteration in the psychology causing racism. To prove this assertion, this paper analyzes various degrees of psychological distress which African Americans experience as victims of racism and then illustrates the importance of reducing racism through psychological and literary education. This paper also includes a study in which twenty two college students read literature with themes of racial prejudice and then discuss this literature in a group setting. This study was conducted to study students’ reactions to the types of literary pedagogy proposed in this paper, testing the effects of this style of learning on students’ empathy and understanding of racial issues.

Included in

Psychology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.