ERIC Number: ED345249
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: 0
A Dialogue on Teaching Gay and Lesbian American Literature.
Bergman, David; Bass, Barbara Kaplan
Two teachers have brought gay and lesbian literature into their American literature courses at a large university near a major metropolitan area. The decision to introduce the works in traditional courses, rather than newly minted ones, was dictated by the university's fairly rigid institutional setting and the relative conservatism and timidity of its largely suburban student body, as well as by the desire not to separate such literature from traditional course work. The educators found that their methods differed more significantly than anticipated, although their aims remained similar. They felt that by studying marginalized writers, students could learn how other people reacted, and why. According to one of the teachers, it is straight students who need to read gay literature and get the most out of it. The other teacher finds that as a straight woman, it is easier for her to approach issues of homosexuality directly and to assign more overtly gay material without being taken as trying to "recruit" students into a gay lifestyle. The strategy that works best for one of the teachers, and that involves students the most, is to have students engage the work as completely as they can before bringing up the issue of homosexuality. Students have responded to the materials they read by expressing greater open mindedness about homosexuality. The teachers have concluded that when they approach homosexuality as just another textual and cultural factor to understand, students can begin to move beyond tolerance to empathy. (SG)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues; Homosexual Literature
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).