Emptying the bell jar: an exploration of adolescent responses to a women's literature unit /
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This study examines adolescent student responses to a women's literature unit taught within a grade 12 Writer's Craft course. Current research (Gilligan, 1989, Pipher, 1994 & Slack, 1999) suggests that there is a great under-representation of female authors in the high school literature curriculum. The use of women's literature may draw attention to important literary figures who are historically overlooked within the curriculum. It gives voice to a marginalized group and presents students with alternative subjects and heroes. It encourages students to develop a critical perspective and reevaluate assumptions about institutions, ideologies, language and culture. It also allows me, as a teacher, to reflect on my own teaching practices and explore alternate feminist pedagogical principles and teaching styles encouraging multiplicity of voices, deconstruction of power relations, and alternative assessment tools within the classroom. As an educator, it is important for me to teach curriculum that is relevant and meaningful to students and help them become critical, self-reflective thinkers. It is also important for me to assist students in their exploration of self and encourage them to expand their awareness of historical, social and global issues. Sylvia Plath's (1963) The belljar is used as the primary text taught within this unit. In this novel, the bell jar is a central image that signifies entrapment and isolation. "To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead body, the world itself is the bad dream"(p.l 54). As a metaphor, the bell jar resonates with young readers in a variety of ways.