Saturday, May 15, 2010
"Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that "Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted." Yet, Said has also said that exile can become "a potent, even enriching" experience.
Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from "home," whether that home is a character's birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how that character's experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.
Angle of Repose
As You Like It
Brave New World
Crime and Punishment
Heart of Darkness
Jude the Obscure
The Little Foxes
The Mayor of Casterbridge
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The Poisonwood Bible
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
My message to the AP Literature Listserv:
I have taught AP Literature and Composition for 17 years, and I am also a Palestinian-American; my father immigrated to the United States in 1951. This is my first time to comment on this board.
About a year ago, when I read that Edward Said was a recommended non-fiction writer in the AP Literature and Compostion Course description, I felt elation, affirmation and a bit less "exiled."
My students took Form B, and until I saw Form A on the College Board website last Thursday, I didn't know that a prompt inspired by Edward Said was used. I was excited, overjoyed and incredulous when I read the prompt.
Edward Said is Palestinian; Edward Said experienced exile, and Edward Said is a brilliant thinker and considered by many in academia to be one of the great intellects of the twentieth century. He is revered and respected not only by Palestinians, but also by many, many others.
The initial responses on this board on May 8 were rational and ones I would expect from teachers of literature. Much of what ensued later was mere obfuscation and noise. Dixie Dellinger, in her post in regard to "prejudice" gets to the heart of the matter.
"I don't want to be in this fray either, since it arose because of The Test, but I see it as pretty simple at the core. It's a matter of prejudice, one of the most emotional and least rational of mental constructs . . .
"We do not indulge that prejudice because of the students' feelings. We acknowledge them, but we do not validate or legitimize them. "