Today we fed-back. That is, we shared the feedback we came up with during class yesterday. We discussed a few different sample paragraphs, and heard how various people modified them. And we talked about paragraphs, and examples, and analysis, and even dodecahedrons. Dodecahedra. Our discussion just followed the worksheet (Peer-review handout) we did yesterday. I thought the suggestions people came up with really improved the essays. It’s funny how much easier it is to revise someone else’s writing than one’s own.
After that we had the rather interesting experience of re-imagining Holden Caulfield as a young woman.
See, the thing is, although I’m a young teacher, a reader of many different kinds of texts, and thoroughly indoctrinated into the world of multiculturalism, it still turns out that most of the major works we study in my class are written by men about men. It’s messed up, it really is.
But the whole time we’ve been reading Catcher I’ve been remembering how much I really enjoyed the novel The Bell Jar when I was in high school. Although the novels are not all that similar, the protagonists do have something to do with each other, and the plot of The Bell Jar does sort of extend the plot of Catcher into deeper and darker territory. So I wanted to at least let students sample the writing of Sylvia Plath so they might read it on their own. (I’m not going to start out the class with Catcher next semester, and The Bell Jar is a good candidate to be its replacement.)
Although the protagonists really aren’t all that similar, a lot of the slang they use is now familiar to the students, as well as the late-forties/early-fifties New York City setting. Before we started reading, I asked the class how they think a “lady-Holden” would be different from a “gentleman-Holden.” They came up with some pretty good ideas–a girl might not use as much obscenity, might notice different details about people (and maybe criticize certain aspects more), might be more emotionally descriptive, etc. Most of these ideas are just based on gender stereotypes, but some students went a little deeper, and a lot of students’ predictions were spot on.
Anyway, we read the first two chapters of The Bell Jar. I hope some students go on to read the whole thing.
Tomorrow we’re going into the computer lab to work on the second draft of our Catcher essays, so if you have missed any of the writing days so far make sure you have at least a first draft of your essay ready to go tomorrow.