Novita Dewi


Short stories provide suitable reading materials to enrich the study of American History. Using literary works can help foster transformative history teaching, especially when discussing the violent past to construct a better future. This study aims at examining two American short stories that deal with racism and prejudice. Used as primary data are “Désirée’s Baby” (1893) which tells about racial intolerance in a pre-Civil War plantation society; and “Shame” (1964), a story about intolerance experienced by a Black schoolboy. Critical reading method is applied by making contextualization with different American historical periods. The results show that (1) themes of xenophobia, racism, and intolerance are evident in these short stories; (2) authorial backgrounds help explain their dealing with the history of racism shown in their works; and (3) stories of inter-racial relations make good reading supplements for teaching American History. In conclusion, literature is history which is beautifully condensed that can help raise students’ awareness about the evil pasts and to grow a historical empathy in facing current realities in order to build a more just, civil, and compassionate society in the future.


racism; short stories; xenophobia

Full Text:



Amboro, K. (2020). Kontekstualisasi Pandemi Covid-19 dalam Pembelajaran Sejarah. [Contextualization of Covid-19 Pandemic in History Teaching]. Yupa: Historical Studies Journal.

Arnez, N. L. (1969). Racial understanding through literature. The English Journal, 58(1), 56-61.

Blackwell, J. A. (2011). African-American Literature and “Post-Racial” America. Or, You Know, Not. Inquiry, 16(1), 67-74.

Chopin, K. (2014). Désirée’s Baby. The Project Gutenberg EBook of Bayou Folk. B

Clark, A. (2004). History teaching, historiography, and the politics of pedagogy in australia. Theory and Research in Social Education.

Cook, M. R. (2016). Counter-narratives of slavery in the Deep South: The politics of empathy along and beyond River Road. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 11(3).

Cruz, B. C., & Thornton, S. J. (2013). Teaching social studies to English language learners, second edition. In Teaching Social Studies to English Language Learners, Second Edition.

Einhaus, A. M. (2016). Cultural memory, teaching and contemporary writing about the First World War. In Literature and History.

Frost, J. (2012). Using “master narratives” to teach history: The case of the Civil Rights Movement. The History Teacher, 45(3), 437-446.

Far-Far, G. (2021). Efektifitas Penggunaan Aplikasi Zoom Meeting Dalam Pembelajaran Di Masa Pandemi Covid-19. [Effectivity of Zoom Meeting in Teaching History during the Covid-19 Pandemic]. ISTORIA: Jurnal Pendidikan dan Sejarah, 17(1).

Gregory, D. (n.d.). "Shame". Retrieved July 5, 2018, from English 101:

Harris, E. P. (1982). An afrocentric view of the rhetoric of Dick Gregory (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University).

Hirsch, A. R., & Bell, C. C. (1998). Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718-1868. The William and Mary Quarterly, 55(2).

Hower, J. S. (2019). ‘All good stories’: historical fiction in pedagogy, theory, and scholarship. Rethinking History.

Kartodirjo, S. (1989). Fungsi Sejarah dalam Pembangunan Nasional [The Function of History in National Building]. In Historika No.1 Tahun I. Pascasarjana Pendidikan Sejarah Universitas Negeri Jakarta KPK Universitas Sebelas Maret Surakarta.

Kavan, H., & Burne, J. (2009). Using Film to Teach Communication Concepts at University. International Journal of Learning, 16(10).

Mianani, S.S. (2019). American Dream as Reflected in David Mamet’s

Glengarry Glen Ross. International Journal of Humanity Studies, 3(1), 96- 10.24071/ijhs.2019.030109

Sanchez, T., & Mills, R. (2005). “Telling Tales”: The Teaching of American History through Storytelling. Social Education.

Senen, A., & Barnadib, I. (2004). Tantangan Guru Sejarah: Pesan Sejarah sebagai Konsep Pendidikan Nilai [The Challenge of History Teacher: Historical Messages as Concepts in Character Education]. Jurnal Penelitian Dan Evaluasi Pendidikan.

Sepehrmanesh, M., & Dehghani, E. (2014). The Dehumanizing American Dream in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. k@ ta, 16(1), 45-53.

Stambuk, A. (1999). Learning to Hover: Robert Frost, Robert Francis, and the Poetry of Detached Engagement. Twentieth Century Literature.

Stepto, Gabriel. (2003). The African American Years. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Stoddard, J. D. (2012). Film as a “thoughtful” medium for teaching history. Learning, Media and Technology.

Sutomo, P. (2017). White People’s Perspective towards Black People During Realism Era in Desiree’s Baby Short Story by Kate Chopin (Doctoral dissertation, Universitas Negeri Semarang).

Tadjibayev, M. (2020). Writers and Poetic Ideas of American Realism in XIX Century Literature. Mental Enlightenment Scientific-Methodological Journal, 2020(2), 8-16.

VanSledright, B. A., & Kelly, C. (1998). Reading American History: The Influence of Multiple Sources on Six Fifth Graders. Elementary School Journal.

Wheeler, K. (1994). Kate Chopin: Ironist of Realism. In ‘Modernist’Women Writers and Narrative Art (pp. 51-76). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Youngs, S. (2012). Understanding History through the Visual Images in Historical Fiction. Language Arts.




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Novita Dewi

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Indexed and abstracted in:




IJHS Sinta 3 Certificate (S3 = Level 3)

International Journal of Humanity Studies (IJHShas been nationally accredited Sinta 3 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia based on the decree  No. Surat Keterangan 158/E/KPT/2021. Validity for 5 years: Vol 4 No 1, 2020 till Vol 8 No 2, 2024

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


p-ISSN: 2597-470X (since 31 August 2017); e-ISSN: 2597-4718 (since 31 August 2017)

Flag Counter

International Journal of Humanity Studies (IJHS) is a scientific journal in English published twice a year, namely in September and March, by Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


Note: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the editorial team or publishers.