By Chloe ’12
A few weeks ago, all juniors were asked to rank a list of potential senior English electives based on how much they would want to take them next year. The names of the electives ranged from the ever-so-popular 19th Century Russian Masterpieces to Bible as Literature to Graphic Novels. While the official list of options has yet to be released, it has recently come to my attention that the classes organized around the literature of a specific ethnicity or minority group received comparably unfavorable rankings.
Some have decided to make this a bigger deal than it is, saying that because we do not want to take such electives, that is all the more reason to offer them. First and foremost, I have no qualms stating that I feel that, while the works of ethnic writers (and in this context, I am referring to writers who aren’t white) are not the majority of what we read in English classes, I do feel that I have a great knowledge of and exposure to their masterpieces.
We’ve read many works of literature written by non-white writers over the years, from When I Was Puerto Rican to Things Fall Apart, A Raisin in the Sun to Song of Solomon.
Second, and more importantly in this particular context, the senior English electives have always been regarded as being the fun, challenging “reward” classes that we get to take after plowing through the required reading that marks our careers from 7th through 11th Grades. The choice is what makes the electives so alluring: why, then, should we get our knickers in a twist if girls would rather take Creative Writing over Asian- American Literature?
The fact of the matter is that we at Marlborough are far from unaware of the works of greats like Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lorraine Hansberry. Perhaps what we should take away from this is that the electives offer us a chance to study a literary field that we haven’t yet explored—and while we have read plenty of works by writers of various ethnicities, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to take a class called Bad Women of Europe!