Hopefully many of you read my post earlier, about how seeing yourself in literature and media is so incredibly important. Anyway, I had been thinking about emailing my professor about it – she’s one of my top five favorite profs on campus and I thought she might appreciate my opinion (written thoughtfully rather than inartfully argued in French at the spur of the moment) on the matter. I finally got the guts to email the post to her, and her response was amazing. Here’s most of it, illustrating that she understood EXACTLY what I was trying to say. She wrote it quite well, so I’m not going to edit it much.
Thanks for this link, which is wonderful. The reasons you so eloquently articulate in the blog are the exact reasons I chose those poems for the class (as well as the lesbian references/scenes in Jusqu’aux os). I recall saying in class — and I apologize if it didn’t come through strongly enough — that the goal was to look at many different forms of sexuality (and the subtext, I hope, is that those forms are worth thinking about with humanity and respect [except incest – Sade is the real exception here!]) – which is not to say that there aren’t negative examples of both heterosexual and homosexual violence and other abuses to be found in literature, as well — and Baudelaire comes immediately to mind.
You might be pleased to know that in next year’s “Sexuality and Sagacity” class (next year’s version of French 240), we’ll be reading Nina Bouraoui’s Mes mauvaises pensées, which is an autobiographical novel about coming of age as a lesbian. It won a huge literary prize in France in 2005. If there are objections in class, I’ll evoke some of your fine arguments. [And, by the way, I had not contemplated taking away the lesbian poems in the future unless we read another equally compelling lesbian work, as in the case of Nina Bouraoui, who will be an even better spokesperson for these questions than Baudelaire.] I solicit student input, but I also have my principles! 😉
So, as you can see – she understood the value of seeing yourself and seeing things different from yourself, as well. On a related note, I must highly reccommend Cathy Yandell, French professor who teaches French 240 (among other wonderful classes), which alternates between “Banned Books” (what I took), and “Sexuality and Sagacity.” This little blog has accomplished a lot, and affirming how I felt about two poems and my high opinion of Cathy are two small things.