Originally Posted Here: http://colorinschool.livejournal.com/1278.html

  • Feb. 20th, 2008 at 3:28 AM

Now, let’s try something more positive and entertaining to read than the last post, hmm? 

One thing that has constantly amazed me in my three in-class classes (and to a lesser degree with my online class), are the connections. More specifically, the repetition of issues that arise in all three classes. Perhaps surprise is not the best word as issues like gender, race, class and the like all show up over and over again throughout history. I think “wonder” might be a better word. Let me break down a bit of the why with an overview of my classes. 

    • British Renaissance Literature: This class has a focus on women writers and women’s issues in the period that runs roughly from 1500 to 1700. We have spent a lot of time discussing things from women’s sexuality to motherhood and everything in between. A lot of the reading we have done has been filled with prescriptions for how women of the period were expected to behave. Most of our reading thus far has come from our main resource book, Renaissance Woman but we’ve also had a delightful romp through John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore

    • American Studies: The time period on this class is a lot more vague. While we tend to discuss a lot of current issues, the texts that we are reading are also taking us to several different time periods. America is the focus of the class and thus the only limit on time is obviously since the country was created. Thus far, we have read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, Sacagawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West by Larry McMurtry, and we are reading Bombingham by KSU’s own Anthony Grooms now. There have been other readings in the form of pdfs as well, but those three texts show the periods we’ve worked in thus far.

  • 19th Century British Literature: The time period on this one is fairly self-explanatory. We’ve read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and are reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens as a semester-long project. The 19th century was full of issues as the Industrial Revolution and the want and desire for bigger and better things was a driving force in the century. 

As you can see, there’s a fairly good mix of time periods here but the issues that come out time and time again sound the same in all three classes! Women’s issues definitely run back and forth between the Renaissance Lit class and the American Studies class, and so many times as we are reading things in the Renaissance class people ask “are things still like this,” and the answer that we’ve found in my American Studies class is “Yes.” Granted they are not as obvious, but the types of issues are still prevalent. Women are still seen as “mothers” and are still frowned on for working outside the home. It is not as vocally challenged now on the large public scale but with in different types of communities, you can find it. I have friends who are moms who are afraid that working could be bad for their babies. While some of that is a genuine mother (especially new mother) sentiment, some of that echoes to societal views on what a mother’s place is and where she is supposed to be. 

Class issues run through all three classes. In the Renaissance, obviously having more money gave a person more power. For women, it allowed more access to education. In American Studies, class has played a role in so many of our discussions that it is easy to lose track of them. And Little Dorrit is centered around a debtor’s prison: I do not think you can find a way to read the text and NOT discuss class issues. 

I tend to be fascinated by how different threads of conversation recur in different forms and how all the different pieces connect and interweave about each other. One of my favorite thus far has been a tie-in of Victorian publishing to publishing in today’s world…but that’s another post!

Original Comments: 

Mar. 7th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
I’ve gotten a bit of that in my classes as well, and find it amusing as well as interesting. Interactions between Native Americans didn’t just stop because of the present day US/Mexican border, so there’s a bit of crossover between the Ancient Mesoamerican class (that only touches on Contact/Post-Contact) and the Native American/European (and Native American/US) Encounters and Relations classes.

I’ve found some interesting things about women’s roles in the Victoria’s Secrets class. Apparently such a stark division was fairly new, as women didn’t fricking have TIME to be devoted to housework and childrearing, and even then it was only upper middle class and higher.