[The Spring 2022 semester was in some ways more “normal” than the last few have been, but in many other ways just as difficult, if not indeed more so. But y’all know me well enough to know that I’m not going to focus on the challenges in this week’s series, but rather on individual discussions in each of my classes that reminded me of why we do what we do!]
In one of my Saturday Evening Post Considering History columns that was published during this past semester, I wrote about my frustration with the old and overwhelmingly white authors/texts my sons have been reading in their high school English classes; at the end I mentioned The Great Gatsby as one of those ubiquitous works, and made the case for replacing it with a book like Nella Larsen’s Passing. While I stand by that idea, especially given the reality that syllabi have limited space and it’s time to shake things up, my ultimate goal would always be additive, putting multiple works in conversation (including far more diverse ones than remains too often the case). And in my American Literature II survey I saw the inspiring effects of that kind of addition—we started our early 20th century unit with Gatsby, had some good discussions about it for sure, but then as we turned to Larsen’s Quicksand and Passing next we kept Fitzgerald’s novel in front of us as well. Our discussion of how Passing can also apply to what James Gatz is doing, while also recognizing some clear and vital differences between those identities and stories, was definitely my favorite for this class, and a great model for that additive curricular work I’d say.
Next reflection tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Spring semester reflections (in all tones) you’d share?