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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Literature Classes

It all started from my favorite poem entitled AN OBSTACLE by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, then my (present) students labeled me as "a woman movement fighter". LOL.

Annually, every even semester I have two classes in one private university in Semarang: Poetry Analysis and Drama Analysis. As an acclaimed feminist, one can guess that I will choose some materials related to women in the two classes. Besides "An Obstacle", I discussed "Reassurance", which was also written by Gilman. I chose it when in the class discussing 'some poems written by the same poet' to recognize the presence of the poet in his/her works. For those who study Gilman's works, they will easily recognize that all of her works represent her ideas as one 'heroine' for equality, be it poems, articles, or short stories.

Gilman lived in an era (1860-1935) where many American women struggled for suffrage. Nevertheless, Gilman never involved herself in such a struggle because she believed that to make women equal with men, having rights to vote in general election was not enough. She opined that women had to get equal rights to work outside the home, as well as to bear their own name, instead of just known as Mrs. X.

To commemorate Kartini Day on April 21 (FYI, Kartini was chosen by Soeharto New Order regime as a heroine for her struggle to give women equal chance to pursue education) I chose two other poems to be discussed in Poetry Analysis class, "Dedication of the Cook" by Anna Wickham, a British poet, and "Women of My Color" by Wanda Coleman, an African American poet. The two poems illustrate different problems women face. Wickham questioned whether women could have their private time to do what they wanted – such as to “indite an ode or mend a sonnet”, to be a great poet – and not troubled by household chores. Meanwhile, Coleman described the unfavorable condition to be born as a black woman. It is obviously stated that African American women had to liberate themselves first from any stereotypes addressed to them, then they could join the white women’s struggle for equality with men.

In Drama Analysis class, I chose TRIFLES by Susan Glaspell. Although this play was written around a century ago, Glaspell sharply chose a topic that is still up-to-date nowadays. She narrated the way men viewed women, bothering ‘trivial’ things too much so that they were not as alert as men, while in fact, from those ‘trifles’ the two women in the play even successfully discovered the background why Minnie Foster murdered her husband.

One very favorable thing for me to teach literature classes: I choose any literary work through which I can expose my feminist perspective, to ‘awaken’ my students from the latent danger of patriarchal culture. :)

PBIS 10.40 270410

My analysis on 'An Obstacle' is at

My analysis on "Women of my Color" is at

My analysis on "Reassurance" is at

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