Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What Is Manhood?

I have made my choice about the senior course I wrote about in the previous post: I am gearing it to works these boys will (I hope) find engaging so they find themselves reflected in an English classroom and maybe choose to read more on their own. Hence, my draft essential question as the title of this post: I am going to present this course as a study of manhood around the world with them acting as my guide. We will (I hope again!) constantly question whether what is shown as manhood is embraced or denied, positive or negative, understandable or opaque. Here is a draft outline of the course -- with VERY draft forms of questions I am considering. Much thanks to the many "boy readers" thread on the EC Ning for many of the titles I am including. I would love ideas for questions you might ask with the literature we are reading.

Summer reading: An American man takes to the world out of dissatisfaction ... Why? Do we see ourselves in him in any way?
  • Required and self-selected essays from Michael Crichton's Travels
September: Where do we begin in thinking about why the world matters to us and manhood?
  • Self-selected reading tied to an area of interest from one of Crichton's essays
October/November: The Middle East ... What is all of the conflict about?
  • Excerpts from the Koran
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Pride of Baghdad
  • Excerpts from The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
December/January: South America ... (still working on a draft question)
  • Short Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
January/February: Africa ... How does literature reflect a country's men? Does it?
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
March: India ... Where are we now?
  • Short stories from Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies
  • White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
April: What are we left understanding? What are we left wanting to know?
  • A second choice reading


  1. While I have only read or heard of a few of those, I'm sure the subject matter, or at least perspective of manhood, should at least give them less excuses in terms of connecting to the writing and experience of the stories. It's worth a shot I think. Who knows, maybe this could help them try and help identify themselves before they leave for college.

  2. Great choices and I love the topic. Now this is a course I'd like to teach:) Wouldn't it be fascinating to have them connect with someone is another country to compare their ideas of manhood? Can't wait to hear more!