After reading Susan Glaspell’s Trifles and Suzy Holstein’s article, “Silent Justice in a Different Key,” my intro to lit class was able to map out the dichotomy of male and female perspectives and moral/ethical paradigms that dictates the way the men and the women in the play understand and act on “justice.” Then, we moved onto discussing our current cultural understanding of men and women. Do we see these “differences” around us today? One topic we tackled was conversations.
We read a short article by Deborah Tannen, “Can’t We Talk?” which is a condensed version of her book, You Just Don’t Understand. The students really took to this article and had a very lively conversation about what they observe in our culture as well as their personal experiences when it comes to how men and women talk.
I think the students really enjoyed talking about themselves and just about the literature – we do, in fact, live in the culture of Facebook and MySpace, which may be the perfect illustration of narcissism (of which I am thoroughly guilty). Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that I’m not teaching a bunch of English majors. These students will not go onto graduate school to Foucault and Barthes. I’m teaching students who are taking this course for various other reasons – one of which is that it’s required. Probably too often I take them down a very analytical and critical path, and I have to remind myself to have a little fun with the students and the literature: Let’s see what issues and topics inspire students. The literature could be a jumping point that helps us put into context some new concepts, but it’s a lot of fun to ask students to look around and share their experiences and critical observations. This is the only way, I realized today, that will bring literature “alive” to many of our students.
Besides, it’s so much fun to talk about men and women and how we just don’t seem to understand each other…