Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Literature in the Classroom Assignments: Part 5


In an old OSH (outside school hours) club room, I remember reading a list of...I don't know, it kind of blurred between rules and hollow affirmations for the children. At #3 on the list, it said: "You are a good person no matter what anyone says." I've written before about what I generally make of people who announce that they're good, giving my experience that such claims tend to come from people who are simply judging themselves against the evil that they don't count against themselves.

I've noticed that people can do some pretty horrible things, and even better we're really talented at hedging our stories in such a way that the horror of our horrible deeds just doesn't seem so horrible. At our best, we not only hedge away the impact of how horrible we are, but we actually make it sound like our horrible deeds are a good thing, justifying that the things that make us evil can't be held against us, and should even be glorified.

In other news, I enjoyed doing the thing that feminists generally abhor, which is to deliberately reproduce gender differences. Overtly stating this in my reflection, surprisingly, did not appear to cost me any marks from my lecturer, who is a feminist. Really thought I was going to rustle some jimmies, there.

Dear Diary,

Today finally came. For the last three months I’ve been telling myself that I’m excited, but secretly, this whole time I’ve been terrified. What if my sisters were right, that I’ve got no brains? What if the other girls hate me or laugh at me for being stupid? What if the lecturers won’t take me seriously? What if I make it through university and dad still doesn’t think I’m good enough? Dad, I’m only doing this for you – I don’t even get why it’s such a big deal! Why won’t you love me? What if you’ll never love me?

Today finally came. Now that it’s here, I don’t know whether to feel honoured or sick. I suppose I feel a bit of both. My sisters have never respected me, but now I think they’re actually jealous of me. Last month I caught them stealing my makeup and trying it on. I’ll spare you the details on how badly that worked out for them, but suffice it to say it would be polite to suggest that they looked like clowns. Oh dear. Anyway, so, today I caught them begging dad to get them plastic surgery. Why? To look more like me. Me! A big part of me is thrilled, but I’m also kind of horrified. Hehe.

Today finally came. All my friends have been dating since, like, forever, but here I am, 23, and coming home from my first date. I don’t know...after all the hype my friends have made about boys, I guess I was expecting something...better? I mean, wow, he was hot. But then...urgh!!! He opened his mouth and it all went downhill from there! Dad, I think I finally get what the big deal is. I have a friend who’s dating this guy who...he’s nice, but, I’m sorry, he’s not nice to look at. She says that the more she knows him, the more attractive he becomes. Maybe there’s something to this...

Today finally came. Smart guys, dumb guys, sensitive guys, jerks, fat guys, fit guys: I’ve had my share of first dates with them all. Guys, what is wrong with you? My sisters and I have been looking for someone to marry, but no matter who we meet he’s just so flawed. But now we’ve had a Eureka moment: if we can’t find the right guy, why not make the right guy? After all, we are beautiful, educated women, and we deserve handsome, intelligent men. Is that really asking too much?

Today finally came. Today I married the perfect man. He has the perfect body and the perfect mind. He’s perfect in every way, and so he should be – after all I did take the best parts to make him. It’s a good thing there are so many men around – on their own they’re not very good, but their pieces are great! I know he’ll always love and cherish me. And as dad walked me down the aisle, I finally knew that he loved me, too. I can’t wait for my beautiful future with my perfect husband.

Today finally came. My husband was so boring! So...I think it was just time to realise that I deserve better. Oh well. I’m so excited to see what I come up with next!

Reflection of Dear Diary,

Dear Diary, is an experiment based on Ania Walwicz’s fairytale. Fairytale is written without any punctuation and in third person limited narrative. The combination of these elements resulted in me taking a very distant, impersonal reading of the original text. This is fitting, as the characters in fairytale do not appear to value individuality in themselves or others. In Dear Diary, I chose to focus on the naturally pretty princess from fairytale by recreating the story in first person through her eyes. Rewriting a story from a different perspective challenges students to consider the varying motives and concerns of others, which may help students to engage with people they would not normally identify with.

By casting Dear Diary, as a first person narrative, I took an impersonal story and made it very personal. This allowed me to foreground the princess’s hypocritical pursuit of perfection and acceptance. By highlighting this pursuit and having her casually reject others, I have privileged her undue sense of moral supremacy and silenced any voices in the story that might challenge her morals. Through deliberately privileging and silencing certain voices in textual experiments, students develop awareness of how they may be positioned disingenuously in various contexts, and can therefore respond critically to misleading information.

As a male, I encountered certain difficulties in writing from a feminine perspective. According to Baur, Holmes and Warren (2006), feminised language tends to use hedging words to soften the impact of the language. I have worked this into the text with phrases such as “I suppose,” “kind of” and “maybe.” Reinforcing imbalanced gender attitudes, I had the narrator describe herself as “educated” and the ideal man as “intelligent,” hinting at a gendered divide between acquired (or even imposed) knowledge and innate ability. Encouraging students to identify how they modify language in relation to gender enables students to reflect upon and challenge their presuppositions about gender.


Now that you've read Dear Diary, check out fairytale.

No comments:

Post a Comment

For reasons that are beyond me, I like to hear what people think, so please leave a comment and let's work together to trick random passers-by into thinking this blog is actually popular.