Essay about Teaching Literature

2176 Words 9 Pages
Teaching Literature

My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we *can* suppose.

- J.B.S. Haldane, "On Being the Right Size" in the book _Possible Worlds_ (courtesy of The Quotations Page)

The inclusion of gay and lesbian authors in high school and college curricula can only help to expose students to things which they will more than likely face in their adult lives. The traditional readings should be read in conjunction with gay and lesbian authors in many schools’ English curricula, simply because most modern students cannot relate to the speech or themes of the traditionally taught works by usually straight British and American writers or by authors who were gay, lesbian,
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In her article “Coming-Out Pedagogy: Risking Identity in Language and Literature Classrooms,” Brenda Jo Brueggemann points out that “although risks and possibilities are present in all our classrooms, they are enhanced in courses focused on sexuality.” She argues that gay (and sometimes bisexual) students often perceive a class in gay and lesbian studies as a place where they can ‘be themselves,’ read about others like them, and acquire increased self-worth.”

Many critics of bringing GLBT authors and literature into high schools seem to assume that many students are not mature enough to handle the themes presented in such literature, but as evidenced by many studies on the subject of today’s teens maturity level, many more students in high schools today are able to comprehend and interpret ideas presented in all kinds of literature. Critics seem to be swayed by the popular opinion that being GLBT is all about sex, when in fact most of what is written by GLBT authors doesn’t focus on sex at all; most of these works deal with themes and issues that are dealt with in the GLBT community.

The identity conflict that presents itself after seeing the popular opinion versus the reality of it is what makes the teaching of GLBT literature so difficult for the most part. It has nothing to do with the sexual nature of it at all; the identity issue is the bigger problem. Brueggemann furthers this argument by stating that