Patricia Williams

So I’m having my senior class read Ironweed by William Kennedy, and it is a really good book. I wish I could say I felt the same about all of the books in the curriculum, but alas, I cannot. I’m trying to introduce literary criticism to the students, and I have been giving them definitions. once in awhile, I give them critical essays. I remembered Patricia Williams’ book The Alchemy of Race and Rights. This book left quite an impression on me when I read it in grad school, and one of the specific characteristic I love about Williams is her tenacity in seeing the world in shades of grey. I thought about the book in conjunction with Ironweed, because I remembered some of her anecdotes about people’s reactions to the homeless. I decided I’d have my students read that section, because discussion broke out into, “I won’t give money to the homeless because they’ll just drink it.” While I can understand why the students who espoused those views believed them, I’d like for them to see the perspective of a larger view of homelessness as a systemic problem. Hopefully an interesting discussion will ensue. The school where I teach tends to be pretty liberal, yet I think I have a generally right of center class.


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