Topics for Further Study
In his 1992 book Talents and Technicians: Literary Chic and the New Assembly-Line Fiction, John E. Aldridge criticizes writers such as Lorrie Moore for tending ‘‘to treat the personal life [of their characters] as if it were a phenomenon existing totally apart from society and without connotations that would give it meaningful relevance to a general human condition or dilemma.’’ Do you think this criticism applies to ‘‘You’re Ugly, Too’’? Are there social forces behind the problems Hendricks is facing, or do you agree with Aldridge that Moore treats Hendricks’s life as something apart from her social context?
In her snide remarks to her undergraduate students in Paris, Illinois, Hendricks believes she is being ironic, but her students accuse her of being sarcastic—an accusation Hendricks eventually accepts. Research the definitions of ‘‘sarcasm’’ and ‘‘irony.’’ What is the difference between the two terms, and do you agree with the students that Hendricks is being sarcastic? Where, if anywhere, can you find irony in ‘‘You’re Ugly, Too’’?
The history department Hendricks teaches for recently faced a sex-discrimination suit, and Hendricks is the only woman currently teaching there. Research the male-female ratios in academia in general, and in history departments in particular. Is Hendricks’s experience unique, or are women widely represented as professors in academia? What are the male-female ratios among teachers in liberal arts colleges in the Midwest? Are they significantly different from those in Northeast schools?
While Hendricks may be simply considered to have an eccentric personality, there is some indication that she may suffer from any number of mental or emotional disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders– Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the main reference used by mental health professionals and physicians to diagnose mental disorders. Also referred to as the DSM–IV, the reference helps professionals determine if patients are suffering from any number of depressive conditions, such as major depression, dysthymia, or bipolar disorder. Using the DSM–IV as your source, research the symptoms of major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder to determine whether or not Hendricks suffers from any of those conditions.