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I walked over to the library today expecting to get The Beauty Myth again because I have not read it in a while. Instead I came across your book Manifesta and I had to get it. I'm not too far in the book yet but I've read enough to decide to check out feminist.com.

I need help on getting started, my situation is like this....I am a sixteen year old from Columbus, Ohio. I attend Linworth Alternative high school where I'll be a junior this coming year. The thing about my school is that it gives me every opportunity to do whatever I need to expand my education. Linworth is a democracy that is governed by the students, we make the rules, we buy whatever the school needs with money that we earned, the school district rarely gives us money and is constantly questioning the way we run things. There are two other high schools an about half of the Linworth students go to one and the other half go to the other, that is because Linworth is not big enough to offer all the classes that the main high schools offer.

Trust me we try to take as many classes as we can at Linworth especially because most of the kids at the other schools call Linworth the "hippie, druggie, goth school," and, well, they don't really like us. Now, a teacher at Linworth asked me this past school year about what English classes he should teach, then he suggested that my friend and I teach a feminist literature class that he would watch over. I definitely want to take him up on the offer, teaching the class second semester would be ideal.

I was thinking I would have everyone read a few books/articles/zines then we could have discussions. The question I have is what books and things would you suggest I teach?



Dear Jessica,

I'm flattered that you picked up Manifesta and that you are enjoying it, but I'm most excited to learn about your school. I have a faint memory of hearing about it before. I can't tell if I would have thrived in that environment or sunk. It sounds like you are certainly making the most of it. Your proposed class sounds great and since it's an English class, I'm assuming the focus is mostly on literature. Here are a few suggestions:

Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun, which goes a long way toward explaining the struggle that female writers have gone through. For instance, how many had to use male synonyms.

Orlando by Virgina Woolf, one of my favorite books and it does a great job of challenging gender roles and examples of how we can break free from such prescribed roles.

Caucasia by Danzy Senna - a great mother daughter/sister story that also reveals racial issues and the civil rights movement's "women's problem."

Coming of Age of Mississippi, the autobiography of Ann Moody and I can't remember why, but it was one of those books that changed my perspective on life.

The Woman's Room by Marilyn French, which was a coming of age book for many women of a different generation, but I still think many of the ideas are still relevant today.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston -- again, another life changing book.

Other thoughts for no specific reason, but often talked about as life changing books:

West with the Night by Beryl Markum
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Jane Eyre -- one of my favorites
Love Medicine by Louise Erdich.
Paula by Isabell Allende - or The Stories of Eva Luna, the latter is very romantic with politics mixed in.
The House on Mango Street by Julia Alvarez or How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent.
Krik Krak by Edwidge Danticat.

I think that's a start. Let me know what happens and if you need more suggestions. Have fun - it sounds great.

- Amy

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