About Me

Hello, my name is Monica L. I am a student at Grand Canyon University and have created this blog for a Multicultural Literature class. We have created weekly blog posts to discuss the different readings we came across during our course.

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I am taking courses to become a High School English teacher. After many years teaching ESL to elementary students and living abroad I have decided I would like to teach more content. When I am not working or studying I love to read, travel, go to concerts and be outdoors. While I would not say that I generally read much literature I am hoping that over the course of this program I will find some new literature.

Before I share the weekly blogs posts we made I’d like to let you delve into some of purpose of this blog and what I have learned in this course. Multicultural literature is literature that seeks to express diversity. It opens the readers eyes to different cultures and experiences and how people live around the world. In this course, we have been introduced to readings from different eras as well as different cultures. From the “Classics of Poetry” by Confucius to “Girl” Jamaica Kinkaid we have been introduced to different cultures and experiences.

What is Global Literature? 

For me “global literature” means more than just literature that is available from around the world but more literature that has no boundaries like country or language. It isn’t really defined by where it was written but has the ability to reach many people of different cultures and nationalities.

I think this is a great link to those who are struggling to understand what global literature might be.

The blurring of national boundaries is represented in 20th-century literature more than ever before because there are many more ways to communicate across the world now. We are able to see what is happening in other countries real time and learn about different cultures and their experiences.  This also means that we are better able to reach out and relate to one-another.

20th-century literature portrays struggles with cultural identity with stories such as “Wedding at the Cross” where people of different cultures are married and then struggle to assimilate while not losing themselves. 20th century literature is better able to allow people to relate to what is happening all over the world.

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Global Literature & Cultural Identity – Week 8

Our readings this week were “The Perforated Sheet,” by Salman Rushdie,  “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid, “Wedding at the Cross,” by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

The readings this week really blurred the lines of National Boundaries. The characters had to deal with their cultural identity as well.

For example, in “Girl” we are given a glimpse into the lessons that women all over the world have drilled into them while growing up. It is universal simply because it doesn’t necessarily touch on a specific location but on the experiences and in “The Perforated Sheet” we get glimpses into a culture that we may not be familiar with. In “Wedding at the Cross” there is a struggle with cultural identity as the character tries to make a new life for himself after being embarrassed by his in-laws.

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For Teachers, a great way for students to teach cultural identity would be to  have students discuss their families. They can identify things the culture of their family. If students are immigrants they can, if they would like to, discuss their experiences.

Here are links at Teaching Tolerance.

Relating this topic to Pop Culture would not be too difficult as there are so many movies, stories, musicians, actors, etc. that come from different places around the world. Asking students to choose their favorite movies, stories, cultural icons that talk about culture would be a way to incorporate it into their class.

Rage & Sadness – Week 7

Our readings this week were “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen,” by Taduesz Borowski, “Deathfugue,” by Paul Celan, “God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children,” “An Arab Shepherd Is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion,” by Yehuda Amichai and “The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman,” by Clarice Lispector

The overwhelming themes in the readings this week were sadness and rage. The characters are going through some harrowing experiences and the result is often a feeling of hopelessness and anger.

There is obvious rage shown by the characters in their behavior and in their thoughts In “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman”:

“Take them, for God’s sake!” I explode as the women run from me in horror, covering their eyes. The name of God sounds strangely pointless, since the women and the infants will go on the trucks, every one of them, without exception. We all know what this means, and we look at each other with hate and horror.”

 In “The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman”

“Her anger was tenuous and ardent. She only got up to go to the bathroom, from which she returned haughty and offended.”

In the first we see there is anger at each other, at the passengers, at themselves and their situation. There is also sadness, hunger, exhaustion and this leads to anger. In the second we see a woman struggling with her identity who is full of anger both at herself, her situation and husband.

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For teachers this could be a difficult subject to teach students about. Discussing emotions and how to be respectful of each others emotions could be a great way to begin any conversations. Introducing them to more literature regarding the events could also be a great way to continue the conversation.

Here is a guideline for teaching about the Holocaust.

For Pop Culture, a teacher could have students choose some of their favorite songs that express strong emotions such as rage, hopelessness or anger.

 

 

Magical Realism – Week 6

Our readings this week were “Death Constant Beyond Love,” by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez” by “Central Park,” by Octavio Paz, and “The Garden of Forking Paths,” by Jorge Luis Borges.

The common feature in this week’s readings was magical realism. In “Death Constant Beyond Love” we saw an introduction to some aspects of magical realism such as the paper butterflies flying through the window which are representative of fragility and life. In “The Garden of Forking Paths” we were introduced to a labyrinth and its symbolism for time. In “I speak of the City” we were introduced to the city of New York in beautiful metaphors such as “the enormous city that fits in a room three yards square, and endless as a galaxy”(p.1429)

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What is a symbol?

A symbol is a person, place, or object that stands for something beyond itself.

Literary symbols gain their meaning from the context of a literary work and often changes as the work develops.

A Great exercise for teaching symbolism:

  1. Choose a well known religious, national, or cultural symbol
  2. write a (half) paragraph analyzing its meaning. Include the standard meaning along with a personal interpretation and a personal interpretation from someone else.
  3. The personal nature of the assignment makes it excellent for a paragraph challenge. 

For Teachers Symbolism can be a great topic!

Some discussion topics could be:

  • How does symbolism allow people to communicate?
  • Can you think of an event or specific time in your life that you could describe using symbolism?

Pop Culture!

Music is a great way to help students relate to the theme. Having students identify symbolism in some of their favorite songs could be a way to help students understand the theme.

Here is a great video for explaining Symbolism and literature.

Culture – Week 5

This week’s theme is culture!

Our readings: “Notes of a Native Son,” by James Baldwin, “Chike’s School Days,” by Chinua Achebe, “To New York,” “Night in Sine,” “Prayer to the Masks,” and “Letter to a Poet,” by Leopold Sedar Senghor

The common feature of the stories this week is a crisis of identity in the culture that the characters are in. For Chike, we see a young African man who has a father who is a white and a mother who is African. Being raised Christian but still living in the neighborhood with his African neighbors he is conflicted which culture is the one for him. His affinity for English words and songs conflicts with those around him. In “Notes of a Native Son” we find the story of a man who grows up in a place where his race is the majority, leaving him to find a whole different set of expectations and interactions once he leaves his town and is then in the minority. The story follows the death of his estranged father during the Harlem riots of 1943. We see that he struggled with identity in the face of such a cultural divide. Senghor talks of the racial division and expresses a desire for unity in culture in his poems.

In this week’s readings we see a continuation from last week’s personal identity and communal identity.

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For teachers, this theme can be introduced and expanded upon in many ways.

Journaling Questions such as:

  • What is culture?
  • What is your culture?
  • Do you see conflict between cultures? Can you provide an example from your life?

Considering that “Notes of a Native Son” and Senghors poems deal with a time of racial tension in the United States the video Detroit Riots 1943 Newsreel

This can lead to a discussion about what the characters in the poems and short story were experiencing when these were written.

A great website for activities, lessons and ideas for this theme would be National Education Association.

In looking to relate this to pop culture we can look to news and current events. Even though our country is a virtual melting pot we still have clashes of culture all the time. Asking students to find examples and discuss how they can be fixed is a great way to keep the conversation going and relate to what is happening around them.

Humans & Nature – Week 4

The theme this week would Humans and Nature.

Our Readings:  “The Conquest of Mexico” by Florentine Codex, “The Night Chant (Orature Section)” from Navajo Ceremony, “Yellow Woman” by Leslie Marmon Silko

All of these readings involve a relationship with nature and the characters. In “The Night Chant” the Navajo commune with nature during their ceremony in order to call for healing of people in their community. They perform their ceremony outside and during the chant there is repetition such as:

“With the darkness made of the dark cloud on the end of your wings, come to us soaring. With the darkness made of the he-rain on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring” (p. 999)

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Instead of simply exclaiming that nature is beautiful the writers detail how. For teachers, a great way to incorporate humans and nature while teaching these readings would be to get students outside! They could take a trip to a local forest preserve, prairie, or even a conservatory. The students can take the time to do reflection and write in journals. How does being in nature make them feel?

For Pop Culture, students can research and discuss issues with climate change, ways to help national parks and conservation in their areas. Relating this to what is going on in the world at large could be a great way to connect the students with the readings. Here is a link to some environmental problems in the world.

 

Reflection- Week 3

The theme this week is REFLECTION.

In our readings we reviewed “Diary of a Madman” by Lu Xun, “Sealed Off” by Zhang Ailing and “Man of La Mancha” by Chu T’Ien-Hsin.

The common feature of these stories was introspection. The stories all give an insight into the minds of the characters and allow us to see how they feel, what they think and their reflections of their lives and those around them.

In “Diary of a Madman” the character is reflecting over cannibalism but also the old ways of China. In “Sealed Off” the characters are interacting with each other and reflecting on their lives and their paths in life. In “Man of La Mancha” we were able to really delve into the selfish thought process of a man who has a near death experience.

In these readings we saw a shift from last week’s “Classics of Poetry” and the works of Confucius. A shift from the focus of morality, respect for elders and ancestors and humaneness to a more every man for himself view and the changes were reflected in society as well, representing the changes in China becoming more modern.

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For teachers, reflection is a great topic for students to undertake in high school, especially towards end of junior and senior year. That is a time in their lives where theya are trying to decide their purpose, who they want to be, what they want to do after high school and this can be a good way to have them reflect.

Allow the students time to develop well thought out answers and also give them time to discuss these with their fellow students. This is also a great time to have guest speakers or fellow teachers come in to talk to them about their pasts and how they came to be who they are.

Here is a link for 15 ways to spark student reflection in your classroom”

In looking to relate this to Pop Culture we see the ideas of reflection everywhere. Who are we? What have we done? What can we do to make the world a better place? Yoga, meditation, volunteering are all popular ways for people to feel as though they are connecting with themselves and finding their purpose as well as reflecting on their lives.

With permission (if necessary) a great way to incorporate this is to do yoga or guided meditation with the class. Perhaps at the end of the topic the class can go outdoors and do some yoga or guided meditation.