I was frustrated with the stilted discussion on Tuesday, so I decided to clearly articulate the relaxation of our "rules of engagement" for this particular work. I e-mailed Junot Diaz last night, and he actually wrote me back to explain the role he saw in terms of sexuality in the work. As a brief sidenote, it's pretty amazing that a famous author and busy professor would take the time out to respond to a random professor's e-mail on a Wednesday night. Given how he explained what he hoped reader would gain from these scenes, I started today with a discussion of some of the "bad" words and what role we saw played by sexuality in American culture as a whole. Then, we launched into how we saw the novel reflecting both familiar and unfamiliar attitudes, which opened the way for a more nuanced discussion of what role sexuality plays in the lives of the characters. We talked about Oscar to start off with, and what it means to not only be a virgin when you're expected to be sexually involved, but also to have no real form of physical affection from your own family. We bridged to Lola and discussed her "escape route," remarking on how men played a minor role, but ultimately, the pull of her mother is too strong. We finally began our examination of Beli, who in the other accounts appears as a controlling witch, but who in "The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral," appears as an abused, naive child who is attempting to wrest some control over her own life in whatever way possible. The students were energetic, engaged, and offered all kinds of options for ways to read these elements. It was quite amazing.
My Expository Writing class was in workshop on their Digital Media Analysis essays, so there's little to report until next week, when we begin our unit on the research essay. Always fun!