Tag Archives: Women’s History

Rotten Reviews: The Violent Bear It Away

“As a specialist in Southern horror stories, Miss O’Conner’s attitude has been wry, her preferences perverse, her audience special.”

Kirkus Reviews

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Cultural Literacy: Demeter

Here, on a Thursday morning, is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Demeter.

If you find typos in this document, 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.

Beloved

(1987) A novel by Toni Morrison, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is the story of a runaway slave whose desperation forces her to slash her infant daughter’s throat with a handsaw rather than see the child in chains. But eighteen years after the child’s death, a young woman appears and the characters believe she is the slain infant returned to earth. Set in the pre- and post-Civil War era outside Cincinnati, Beloved is developed through a series of flashbacks to the Sweet Home Plantation. The main characters are Sethe, the heroine who is literally haunted by the baby daughter she killed; Beloved, the ghost of Sethe’s child; Paul D., a former slave who knew Sethe when they were together at Sweet Home; and Denver, one of Sethe’s other three children.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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.

The Algonquin Wits: Beatrice Kaufman

“George Oppenheimer, while an editor at Viking Press, was once assigned to collect material for a question-book called Ask Me Another. As a promotional gimmick the editors were advised to first test the questions on various celebrities. Covering the ‘famous authors’ section, Oppenheimer asked Beatrice Kaufman: ‘Who wrote The Virginian?’

‘Owen Wister,’ Beatrice answered.

Oppenheimer’s next question read: ‘Who wrote The Virginians?’

Reacting against the gimmicky pattern of the questions, Beatrice answered, ‘Owens Wisters.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Everyday Edit: Phyllis Wheatley

Here’s an Everyday Edit on poet Phyllis Wheatley.

If your students like Everyday Edit worksheets, please remember that the good people at Education World give away a year’s supply of them.

Annie Besant

“Annie Besant (born Wood, 1847-1933) English author, theosophist, and political radical. Besant separated from her clergyman husband and became associated with Charles Bradlaugh in the free-thought movement. And advocated of socialism and social reform, she was a member of the Fabian Society, an organizer of labor unions, and a worker among impoverished and delinquent children. Later, after meeting Mme. Blavatsky, she became a leading theosophist in England. Interest in occult theology took her to India (1889), where she founded the Central Hindu College at Benares, and began to agitate for home rule in India. She wrote many religious works as well as her Autobiography (1893), How India Wrought for Freedom (1915), and India, Bond or Free (1926).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.