Novels of Feminine Transformation?

Are you looking for a quotation that you can't quite place? Trying to track down a hard-to-find publication? Here, folks can help you find the answers, or discuss ways for you to discover them for yourself.

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Post by noman » Tue May 29, 2007 4:08 am

This question is way out of bounds for me, involving three subjects I know precious little about: womens studies, self help, and modern fiction. But in the course of Campbell discussion on the Web I’ve run into these two books that offer an academic approach to her question.

1.) The Female Hero in American and British Literature, Carol Pearson and Katherine Pope. (1981)

“[This book] is a work of myth criticism that explores patterns of female heroism in American and British literature with emphasis on 19th and 20th century novels. The great works on the hero – such as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand faces, Dorothy Norman’s The Hero: Myth/Image/Symbol, and Lord Raglan’s The Hero: A study in Tradition, Myth and Drama – all begin with the assumption that the hero is male. This prevailing bias has given the impression that in literature and life, heroism is a male phenomenon. This work begins with the assumption that women are and have been heroic, but that the culture has often been unable to recognize female heroism…. …This book traces the stages of the journey of the female hero, concentrating on those elements of the female hero’s quest that differ from those of her male counterpart.”

- from the preface of The Female Hero in American and British Literature, - Carol Pearson and Katherine Pope. (1981)

2.) Re-Visioning of the Heroic Journey in Postmodern Literature: Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, Arthur Miller, and American Beauty, Leslie Goss Erickson, (2006)
“This book considers one of the most vigorously debated issues in mythological studies. Is the ‘monomyth’ a patriarchal construct, designed to perpetrate phallocentric systems which privilege some and exclude others, or is it an archetypal roadmap for life, outlining a path to enlightenment, available to any who have the courage to pursue it? ... ... =6526&pc=9
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I remember Terry Gross, the ‘Fresh Air’ interviewer of NPR, being interviewed about her life. She said she got her Bachelor’s degree in English. Then she took a teaching position. She recalled how these kids overturned bookshelves and such - or tested her by such antics as dropping a knife on the floor in the aisle to see what she’d do. She was fired after only six weeks. Something tells me some of the skills you teachers need to do your job simply aren’t acquired at a University.

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Post by Scarlett » Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:53 am

Dear bodhibliss,

I know this is coming rather late being a new school year. However, I thought I would comment being a young teacher myself. Do you have any more contact with the teacher? If not perhaps you will run into another teacher in distress...

I've been teaching young teens for about six years I'm about midway through my early teaching experiences. Your post made me think back on the books I read during those difficult early years.

Actually, I read the Alchemist (the one you thought of originally) a year before I graduated and began teaching. I often thought back to that story even though the main character was a male. He was very inspiring to me because he was so optimistic and diligent on his journey despite hardships.

I hate to admit, but since I don't know any of you personally :wink: , I'll confess that I cried a lot my first year of teaching! Of course I saved my tears for home. Never cry in front of students: Rule #1. I teach language arts in an alternative school. Probably a quarter to a half of my students have probation officers. You'll get no pity from them...nor did I expect any.

I have to say it was our beloved Joseph Campbell who kept me leveled. I was only introduced to Campbell during my late college years. So my early years of teaching is when I started reading all of his books. And actually, these forums were a wonderful escape ... I used to post more back then. And I received some advice from our teacher's here onsite...thanks Clemsy!

Reading Campbell was exhiliarting and confusing. Teaching was suppose to be my bliss and it didn't feel like bliss those first couple of years. I think it was reading Carl Jung who helped me figure that out. I started keeping track of my dreams and reflecting more after reading Jung. Campbell and Jung made the world seem more magical and fun.

And then there was Marie-Louise Von-Franz in The Feminine In Fairy Tales who actually talked about teachers (male or female) who were efficient because she believed they were in touch with their shadows. So their students knew they meant business!

However, I know that Jung and Campbell aren't for everyone, so another book that I read (and would recommend) during those years was Spider Woman's Web: Traditional Native American Tales About Women's Power by Susan Hazen-Hammond.

I don't know what I would do without books! But most importantly it's all about your support system. When I would go home after a bad day and cry to my husband...he would give me a pat on the back and tell me to "suck it up and stop letting those kids bully me!" I wasn't getting a pity party from him. He helped me reach inside of myself and find the confidence to continue through the ordeals of teaching. However, not everyone is lucky enough to find someone who can support them...and really my books were a big part...are still a big part in my transformation into a woman of substance.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop. I just thought I might share a couple of books that did help me.

Recently, I told another distressed new teacher in my building to hang in there. Experience is the key. I felt like I was drowning my first year of teaching, but I managed to stay afloat and I discovered how to swim! I don't mean to sound dramatic...I'm sure it's not so hard for everyone, just my experience.

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Post by Clemsy » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:04 am

Scarlett, the "thrown in over your head" analogy works well for many first year teachers. As Bodhi says, the educrats don't care as the current educational ideology has removed much of the humanity from instruction.

NCLB objectives are unrealistic, yet they are law. My school is in "corrective action" and possibly heading for the first year of restructuring if we don't meet our AYP (Average Yearly Progress) number on the ELA test in January.

Odds are we won't. This stuff is so ridiculous I said to a rep from the state ed dept at a conference for 'troubled schools' the following: "Basically none of this makes any sense. Just take the money and do the best your can."

He stopped, looked at me and said, "Well, this stuff comes down from the feds. If we don't make you do it, we don't get the money."

In the meantime we've lost 4 teaching positions in the past two years due to budget deficits in my working class school district (60% poverty and 24% special ed rate), while an affluent school district a half hour drive away chalks up a 3.2 million dollar surplus.

So we're pushing hard and doing the best we can, right? I'm spending 3 of my 5 classes running a pricey scripted program in decoding skills in the eighth grade.

That AYP number goes up every year until 2014 when all children will be fixed, and all school districts have a 12% special ed rate (because that's the national average). If you don't make it, the state takes over... like they would know what to do.

We've fallen down the rabbit hole.
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Post by creekmary » Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:49 pm

A lot of people here home school. It scares the crap out of the schools.

The school wouldn't budge on moving my son out of an elementary classroom situation that caused him to throw up from anxiety every morning until we said we'd just keep him home before he went back another day. (He got most of his education from his father at home anyway) They moved him, to special ed., but that teacher knew us back to my grandma and grandpa and kept him up to advanced levels and took care of him.

Breaking out of the system altogether scared them.

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Post by Scarlett » Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:06 am

Clemsy I too use a pricey decoding program. (SRA Direct Instruction) I am in charge of the writing and spelling components. It can be very effective, but you have to supplement the material. I have seen children learn through these programs, but it can have its draw backs. There is no set recipe for success I'm afraid.

You said we have fallen down a rabbit hole. I certainly felt like that coming out of college. My ideals or the images taught to me in those isolated four years do little to prepare you for the changing of educational tides in the real world.

AHH but we keep trying...