Betty Boop

For a variety of reasons, I felt trepidation about posting this reading on flapper icon Betty Boop and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

But for a variety of other reasons, in the final analysis, I decided to offer it after all. For starters, even almost 100 years after her appearance in the cultural iconography of the United States, Betty Boop persists. Also, as I began thinking about this reading, as well as watching the initial reactions of students working on it, I saw that the story of Betty Boop offers a way of analyzing a number of critical social and cultural phenomena in the United States, not the least of which is sexism and the objectification of women.

An essential question for this might be something along the lines of “What is sexism?” Which then opens the door to the more particularly critical question, “How does Betty Boop represent social and cultural sexism?” There are lots of other questions this material raises. For example, this reading offers a specific and compelling example of the concept of the risque in culture, which seems to me worth teaching, even in an age where what was once risque is now blase. If you have somewhat more advanced students, I’ll guess they’ll be the ones to ask those kinds of questions–and more, I hope.

And what more could a teacher want, after all?

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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