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Monday, July 03, 2006

A Difference of Opinion

Jane Eyre was dropped from a school honours reading list. I really cannot understand why administrators would think this is a good idea?

Jane Eyre recently got the boot and was replaced with Pygmalion on incoming Niles West sophomore honor students' list for another reason.

"We were getting a lot of complaints from the moms of boys who said they just couldn't get into it," Firer said. "They [the boys] thought it was too girlie."


So, there is such a thing as a 'girlie' and non-girlie classic? They ought to be challenging such notions, not confirming them in this way. I have many complaints about my high school education, but we certainly never supposed that some material was for one or the other gender- ever. And it was never an issue. To me, it seems like a backwards notion. Was it too much trouble to have a class discussion about how the class recieved the book? Or were they only expected to mark off imagery lists and make plot diagrams?

14 comments:

mysticgypsy said...

"To me, it seems like a backwards notion."

I agree.

Were they trying to go for "gender-neutral" books? If so, is this even possible? I mean granted Jane Eyre does lean more toward feminst studies, but I think replacing this with some other male-centered novel is only agitating the problem. People have got to see that the prominent presence of one gender speaks volumes about the absence of the other. And this is enough fodder for discussions. A classic should not be judged based on which "gender" it appeals to the most.

Anonymous said...

I hate that when girls start to succeed at something, everybody goes into a panic about the boys. We should be encouraging boys to see the literary value of Jane Eyre, rather than catering to stereotypes about what boys enjoy.

Brontëana said...

to mysticgypsy:

I have thought, for one, that classics must appeal to all people of all times. A book that is only appealling in the Victorian era is not a classic. A book which only appeals to women is not a classic. Jane Eyre is a classic- it has as much to say about how a young man becomes independent as it does about a young woman.

My school had some utterly ridiculous choices for reading, but they never presented them as gendered and none of my classmates objected to the books being too masculine or feminine. Some students refused to read some of the selections because they thought that they were self-consciously sensational but that is as close as we came to this sort of thing.

Brontëana said...

to anonymous:

The recent articles about gendered education have certainly made this issue more prominent. I agree- in fact, I see very little use in defining things in terms of 'masculine' and 'feminine.' (You should see what happens when people do this with Mr Rochester. I've read articles about how he is too feminine, or he's sex-less, or he's 'the most virile man in 19th century fiction' ;-)

I have heard from at least one young man who felt a stigma for enjoying Jane Eyre so much.

I had not considered that this means the girls don't get to read JE either.

mysticgypsy said...

" I've read articles about how he is too feminine, or he's sex-less, or he's 'the most virile man in 19th century fiction'"

ooh! I'd like to take a look at these articles. Do you know of the sources/links to such ones?


Thanks!

Brontëana said...

to mysticgypsy:

It should be in the bibliography I have for one of my papers. I know one of them was 'The Primrose Crown'? ...I think that was the androgynous hero theory. I can't remember the others at the moment. I think the 'most virile' one came from a snarky article about Bertha criticism (which I liked very well :)

Anonymous said...

If I were a guy, I think I'd much prefer reading Jane Eyre to, say, Pride and Prejudice. :P

Kelly said...

*Recognizes local newspaper and seethes*

Truly a shame when books like The DaVinci Code are even considered when Eyre is so inconsiderately dropped. Indeed, even the article's author didn't think it worth including in the heading . . .

Laura said...

That'a odd, because I know too men who have read and liked this book...

I wouldn't say that it was especially girly anyway.

laura said...

Yes, I agree. It's completely outrageous that they could even consider dropping this novel when books like The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter titles are making University syllabuses...

Brontëana said...

to anonymous:

Well, there is a famous basketball player who loves P&P so I wouldn't be so sure about that ;)

Brontëana said...

to Kelly:

I haven't read The DaVinci Code but I have heard the writing style is very poor. I can only speak from my own experience, that the end of high school English was to make the students literate but no more than literate. This meant trying to find anything that the students would actually read. They failed miserably- handing us a lot of trash that was supposed to 'connect' with us, and be exciting. I think whatever happens to be popular right now is trumping the classics for this reason.

marshalsea said...

I'm a boy and I love Jane Eyre. It's ludicrous to suggest that it's a 'girlie' book.

There are so many concurrent themes that run through the book that it's folly to pigeon hole it into a simple matter of sex.

I've read The Da Vinci Code and it's written more like a script rather than a novel. It's as if Dan Brown knew a film would be made!

Brontëana said...

to marshalsea:

I couldn't agree more!