I loved this week’s TTT topic so much that I ended up choosing 11 books! I would definitely want to teach a course called Feminism & Gender Identity in Literature for/about Youth, and here’s what would be on the syllabus:
- Tap & Gown by Diana Peterfreund – the whole Secret Society Girl series is a course in feminism, but Peterfreund does her best work in discussing sexual abuse, harassment and how to survive in an old boys club in this, my favourite of the four books.
- None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio – if this book isn’t already on course curriculums, it should be. It’s one of the best articulations intersex and gender identity in YA today.
- Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt – one of my favourite juvenile reads, and I think it would be really great to discuss gender norms, poverty and how YA evolved to what it is today.
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries created by Bernie Su & Hank Green – this one is a total cheat, but I would definitely have my class watch LBD after reading P&P to see modern contrasts, and especially what the creators did to modernize and empower the women in the story.
- Shameless by Futhi Ntsingila – out of all the books I picked, this is the one people won’t know about. It’s a book that discusses women’s roles (including prostitution) in South Africa, and it’s one I studied in my MA. This would be a great one to add to the syllabus to discuss gender roles in other societies, and how our views of feminism compare.
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – this would probably be the first book we would study not only because it’s a favourite of women (and men), or because it’s written by a women, but because I really believe that Elizabeth was ahead of her time
- Paper Towns by John Green – I recently saw the movie of this, which is a very faithful adaptation of the book (except for the end), and I remembered why I liked it so much. It’s such an interesting deconstruction of the manic pixie dream girl, and I think it would contrast well to have a male protag discussing a female character.
- Open Road Summer by Emery Lord – I’ve already talked about how feminist I think Open Road Summer is, and I think it’s a brilliant book to discuss slut-shaming and self-esteem, as well as girl friendship.
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – if anyone else has this topic today, I can guarantee that Frankie will be on their list. Her take-down of a high-school frat is the stuff of feminist dreams.
- Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro – a collection of short stories I think everyone should read because it’s great writing, but it’sespecially interesting in a course about gender roles because Munro has always been considered a “not very feminine” writer. To me, however, this book is all about discovering how to be a person and woman in a small town (bonus: Canadian content!).
- Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald – I haven’t put any critical readings on this syllabus, but wow, does Abby McDonald give them to you in Sophomore Switch, a book about two girls who swap courses. One of them is a casual Californian who ends up in gender studies classes at Oxford and you get to learn criticism right along with her (it’s also a fun, funny, and articulate YA contemp).
What books would be on your gender and YA course? Did I miss any? Which of these have you read or are interested in reading? Would you take my course?