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Queer Subtext?I am considering writing my essay on the gay subtext that my teacher says...

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tishmel | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted September 10, 2007 at 7:28 PM via web

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Queer Subtext?

I am considering writing my essay on the gay subtext that my teacher says runs all through the novel. Can any one point me in the right direction? I didn't see this at first.

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 18, 2007 at 4:34 PM (Answer #2)

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I would be happy to help out but I do not find the title of the text you are working on.  What is the project?

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tishmel | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted September 18, 2007 at 4:39 PM (Answer #3)

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O Pioneers by Willa Cather.  Again, my teacher says there is a strong lesbian subtext, but I just don't see it.  Can you help point a few out? 

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collinsmc1 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:17 AM (Answer #4)

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what is "queer"????  your teacher is buying into the hype of Cather's alleged sexual orientation.  If and because she is lesbian does not color the novel in the sense that Alexandra is a strong woman who degenderizes the role of 'farmer' and does what she has to do to in order to support a family of mysoginst men.  To place "lesbian" in this context negates the fact that Alexandr(i)a is the best person for the job accroding to the wishes of her dying father.

Teacher's should leave agendas, be they moral or political, out of the places that they are not appropriate and not force issues simply because they are convenient.

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted October 11, 2010 at 8:44 AM (Answer #5)

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I disagree with the previous poster, collinsmc1 How is attempting to really read and possibly coming to understand a novel in a new way an example of "buying into the hype" or letting one's "agendas" get in the way of real teaching?

What I see in your post, to be honest, is a knee-jerk reaction; the resistance in your post to such an attempt at a new reading seems to me an example of how a teacher's agenda truly can limit learning. The opening of your post says a lot, for example. "Queer" is a real term. You can find extensive discussions of "queer theory" all over the place. Putting the term in scare quotes and following it up with four question marks doesn't make it any less real a term or any less valid an approach. 

The best approach for a teacher, I believe, is to phrase everything as a question and to encourage students to explore their questions openly while grounding their answers (of course) in a close reading of the works under discussion. I don't always succeed in keeping my own views in check (who does?), but it's a good thing for me to strive for.

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