Thinking About Gender

As you read and respond to The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I encourage you to think about gender roles and what you have learned about “doing gender”. Last term, you learned that “gender” is not just about the genitalia you are born with; rather it is socially constructed, supported by family, education, and mass media. You explored the complexities of gender by “doing gender” and observing the reactions of those around you when you did not fit their definition of how a woman should dress and behave. Further, you read many things that informed you about gender discrimination. I want you to remember those lessons now as we read our second novel of the term, and apply what you’ve learned to analyze and understand The Joy Luck Club.

Testing the idea of what it means to be "man" and "woman"

Re-enacting a crucial scene from the play A Doll's House

Another scene from A Doll's House, this time exploring gender discrimination

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The Value of Public Writing

Right now, you may be asking yourself why I am asking you to share your writing so publicly. What can you possibly gain from sharing your thoughts, your questions, and perhaps even your errors. Why should you share all of these things with your classmates, your teachers, and possibly an even greater audience?

I want to tell you that it is precisely because of having an audience that you should blog. You should become comfortable sharing your thoughts, ideas, questions, interpretations, and analysis with an authentic audience. You should engage in meaningful conversations about what you are learning with your peers. You should read what your peers have to say and perhaps not only learn about a new point of view, but also realize where you stand by agreeing or disagreeing with your peer.

I hope that through such conversations you will become more interested in and motivated about the class material. I believe that it will boost your confidence. Those of you who hesitate before jumping into the class discussion (or sometimes never jump in at all) may discover that you enjoy having time to carefully construct your response and sharing it with everyone. Through this process, I hope you will gain pride in your writing and critical thinking skills.

Finally, I hope that some of the blog topics inspire you to be creative and write creatively. We often focus on how to write academic essays in class. We don’t have nearly enough opportunities to see what happens when you shift styles or mediums. I hope that you can explore these options and find the value in public writing.