Anne Sexton: Teacher of Weird Abundance (S U N Y Series, by Paula M. Salvio

By Paula M. Salvio

The poet's lifestyles as a instructor.

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Extra info for Anne Sexton: Teacher of Weird Abundance (S U N Y Series, Feminist Theory in Education)

Sample text

These associations are often referred to in educational parlance as “prior knowledge,” and such knowledge is believed to usher students into conversations and deliberations about new ideas. What is rarely addressed, however, is the extent to which such “prior knowledge” can function to sabotage teaching and learning, effecting a “change of scene” that initiates circuits of uncanny sensations. Grief, rage, confusion, and the fear that can accompany a sense of losing mastery of academic material characterize some of the emotions that surface in the chapters in this book.

Grief, rage, confusion, and the fear that can accompany a sense of losing mastery of academic material characterize some of the emotions that surface in the chapters in this book. These emotions disclose stories of failures to lose, to let go, and to remember, emotions that are deeply tied to a melancholic temperament. Because the melancholic clutches at the lost love object long after it has passed on or been worn away—whether the love object is a person, belief, or idea—the melancholic not only refuses to risk love again, but he or she potentially abdicates the work required to forge an attachment to life and to compose meaning.

Thus, the mask constitutes another kind of expressive contract; it organizes another operation of language. The melancholic seeks an object that is continually out of reach, therefore posing a series of difficult challenges to writing and teaching: How do we teach a history that remains unnameable? How can we teach writing when the persons and objects one longs to make present are encrypted in a halfspoken history? Students who get lost in their own circuitous speech can often establish an object of address through the expressive registers of the mask and the persona.

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