Teaching Gender Issues through Literature.Report as inadecuate

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The issues of empiricism and theory-building can be used in practical terms to discuss how literary texts can be used to elucidate gender issues in the classroom. For instance, two literary texts written early in this century--Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and Ernest Hemingway's short story "Up in Michigan"--can illustrate important principles of communication and gender. When, in Act II of "Our Town," Emily decides to "tell the truth and shame the devil," she communicates her perceptions of George by using something like a "clear message format" popularized in interpersonal communication textbooks. George's attempt to establish honest, open communication about their relationship counters current wisdom expressed by Deborah Tannen and Carol Gilligan about male and female patterns of communication. Likewise, Liz's verbal statements in "Up in Michigan" lead students to ask "Was Liz raped?" Does Liz's "no" really mean "yes?" Does she protest verbally simply to maintain some semblance of Victorian feminine decorum in the face of overwhelming sexual desire? This story embodies crippling myths about communication between men and women, and it challenges readers to say what they mean and mean what they say and act upon what is actually said. Thus communication should not be understood as an isolated discipline in the academy. (SAM)

Descriptors: Gender Issues, Higher Education, Interpersonal Communication, Literary Criticism, Literary Devices, Rape, Sex Differences, Speech Communication, United States Literature

Author: McClish, Glen

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=12507&id=ED366996

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