Books You Had to Read in Jr. High or High School Which Were Written By
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...WOMEN (sorry, it got cut off)
Basically assigned reading from ages 12/13 to 18 years of age.
Depending on your age, and where you are from, you may or may not have anything to post here. But please do post, if only to say there aren't any. And feel free after you post about your own experiences to mention about your children's experiences.
I have a really wracked my brain over this one, but in that era, which for me is the late 60s-early 70s (in Maine which was not terribly cosmopolitan), I can only think of two books during that era and that was Silas Marner and My Antonia. This was junior high and no one told us that George Eliot was a woman. Hey, and at least My Antonia was about a woman even if her life was told by a 13 year old boy.
There might have been a bit of poetry in high school that was written by a woman but no assigned books that I can think of (I certainly read some on my own).
Ironically, my oldest daughter's AP English class in 1997/98 read no books written by women. And there were no positive representations of women in any of the books! (Cripes! Maybe that's why she's in roller derby now!)
Oooooh, a memory test!
I think we read Silas Marner.
I think the only other women-authored books we read were Mills and Boon romances for an assignment in which we had to then write our own M&B.
A Level (16-18):
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
That's it. How depressing.
ETA the time period was 1989 - 1993
The only female-authored book I remember being part of a syllabus in high school was Alice Walker's The Color Purple; however, this was on the syllabus for an elective English course I took, not the required English courses for each grade. I don't actually remember any woman-authored books being required.
Gone with the Wind, Silas Marner, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Yearling come immediately to mind as books that were assigned as summer reading.
For my senior year in high school, I had an absolutely terrible English teacher. I wanted to take the AP test in English (which I did, and scored sufficiently high to get six college credits for freshman composition and take a couple honors seminars my freshman year in Dostoevsky and Joyce), but all the teacher did was give me a reading list that I guess had been put out by the College Board or some other agency.
I do recall that in my senior year of high school I read all six novels of Austen and all seven novels of the Brontes, but that was strictly on my own, without any faculty input other than the reading list this teacher handed to me.
Early to mid 60s:
Silas Marner, Ethan Frome and Wuthering Heights are the only assigned novels by women I can remember. There was a reading list for college with a number of women, and I did do "book reports" on some women authors, most notably Pearl Buck -- actually it was more a survey of her novels -- I think I read about 10 of them. Actually HS was more female-oriented than college. I was an English major, and the only assigned novels by women were Little Women and House of Mirth. We read Emily Dickinson in American Lit, but I can't remember reading any women in English Lit surveys. The only women I remember reading in a course were poets in a Contemporary Poetry course -- the major text was Naked Poetry and quite a few women were emphasized there -- Plath, Levertov, Rich, Sexton, etc. Nobody taught even the Brontes, Eliot, and Woolf back then. Even in graduate school, the only course that I remember reading women authors in was a Women's Lit course, new to the university in 1972. No wonder feminist scholars had to reclaim female voices!
My AP English teacher quoted "naught endureth but mutability" at least once a week, so I thought it must be from a woman poet but just looked it up and it should have been "Nought may endure but Mutability" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I know we read Silas Marner and I'm thinking some Edith Wharton, maybe Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence. I know we did some poetry, probably Marianne Moore and maybe Nikkie Giovanni though I could well be thinking about college there. I'm sure we didn't read Middlemarch, I was thinking maybe Adam Bede, but now I'm not so sure. Quite a small proportion of women compared to men.
I went from elementary school (grade 7) right to high school -- September 1976 through June 1981, and the only books I remember assigned were:
Of Mice and Men--US male
Old Man and the Sea -- US male
To Kill a Mockingbird--US female
A Separate Peace--US male
Lord of the Flies--Brit male
While I'm perturbed that only one of those authors is a woman, I look at that as a sign of the times. I'm much more perturbed that my Canadian high school didn't give me one single Canadian author to read. Based on my CanLit class that I took at university last year, I hear from younger students that not a whole lot has changed even today.
@4>> As a follow-up observation to my previous post, in our junior and senior year HS English courses we used the one-volume Norton Anthologies, American in junior year and British in senior year, and pretty much just stuck to them straight on through cover-to-cover. So our in-class readings were pretty much whatever Norton had canonized in the mid- to late-60s.
I do remember writing a fairly extensive research paper on the Brontes, with particular reference to Charlotte, in my senior year (ETA: but that was something I'd picked on my own, not a specific teacher-assigned subject).
Wow, I remember very little of what I read in junior high or high school (1970s), so I'm useless on this question.
But to Joyce's comment in #8, I think the situation is improving. My daughters each had to read ~4 books this summer. They chose from lists which struck a good balance for both gender and ethnicity. Specifically, my girls read:
- Cold Sassy Tree
- Child of my Heart
- Excerpts from Edith Hamilton's Mythology which was dry as dust btw
- and she chose a non-fiction written by a man but the other non-fiction choices were all by women
12th grade AP:
- The Handmaid's Tale
- and two others written by men, one required and one by choice
Drawing a complete blank on junior high. We may not have read novels at all.
High school (1986-1989, U.S.)
Pride and Prejudice
The Grass is Singing
To Kill a Mockingbird
That's all I'm remembering. And that's maybe 20% of overall reading but probably less. Plenty of the usual suspects.
The mid 70's at St. Hubert's Catholic High School for Girls, a large (3000 girls) diocesan high school in Philadelphia, was not a time/place for lots of forward thinking, so with Sister Clare Immaculate (yes, that really was her name) in her 11th and 12th grade AP classes, for women writers it was mostly the Bronte's, Edith Wharton (and probably just Ethan Frome, never Age of Innocence), Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Willa Cather, and to be really wild, a few short stories by Katherine Mansfield. But Sr. Clare was a Shakespearian scholar (went down to the Folger Library in DC every two weeks) so we read lots of Shakespeare.
Good question! It's hard to remember, but I went to high school in the 90s and Frankenstein is the only one I remember reading. I know I also read Emma but that was off of a list of books where we could choose any book to read and research.
I can think of about a dozen books I was asked to read and all are by male authors except the ones I mentioned. Pretty sad.
I can't remember any books by women we read in jr high or high school (mid to late 60s up until 1971), with the exception of Edith Hamilton's Mythology which I wouldn't have remembered if Laura/linsacl hadn't mentioned it above, and Colette, which we read in French class..
I believe there were some books by women on our summer reading lists, but the only one I can remember is Precious Bane which I either didn't read or didn't like.
Of course, I read quite a few on my own, including some Austen, To Kill a Mockingbird, Nancy Mitford, Sylvia Plath, some Virginia Woolf, and memorably, my senior year, Kate Millett's Sexual Politics. Probably more I can't remember.
I don't remember having any summer reading lists.
Working for nearly a decade in the bookstore ('97 - '06 - this is in the US), we often worked with the high school English teachers, particularly for their higher level courses. I know that some highschoolers in the area were reading Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (mentioned above), How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez, and The Pact or My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.
>4 wow, Gone with the Wind, now that's quite a tome to assign for summer reading.
First, I'm surprised at the amount of lit you all read in high school. In Ontario, most English courses consist of about 5-10 short stories, 10-20 poems, one Shakespeare play, and one novel. Often semester-end projects also include a novel. So not a ton of reading.
I was in high school from 2000-2004, and of the four assigned novels, only one, Wuthering Heights, was by a woman. In my final year, I chose Gone With the Wind and The Stone Angel to read on my own.
I teach English, and my seniors picked their novel from a list of 14 choices. Of those, Wuthering Heights, The Penelopiad, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Half of a Yellow Sun, and The Blind Assassin were all by women - now that I look at those stats, I'm not very happy with myself!
In English in college in NZ (college = high school) we hardly ever read a novel...
I would have said never but in my last year we studied To the Island by Janet Frame. I hated it and the teacher. We had to analyse every single paragraph. We spent 12 weeks on it and didn't even reach the end.
We studied a Shakespeare play every year (The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, King Lear), a movie (for me Braveheart TWICE ugh), the language of advertising, poetry - typically NZ poets but one year we did the poetry and folk songs about the Vietnam War.
For a kid that loved to read I hated English at school and only just scraped up a pass mark.
From what I remember, my U.S. high school (pre-NCLB) assigned at least 8 novels/plays per year. And then quite a bit of poetry, short stories, and essays mixed in each year as well. And of course the annual Shakespeare : Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet. We almost always watched a movie version after reading the book when there was one available.
Prior to O level I don't remember a lot of what we had to read. I know we read Of Mice and Men, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and a whole bunch of Shakespeare. For O level we read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice plus Macbeth and 5 narrative poems - all by male poets.
I didn't take English at A-level but I did take French and Spanish and out of at least 8 assigned texts only one was by a female author. It was Primera Memoria by Ana Maria Matute. At least in Spanish we also read la casa de Bernada Alba which is a play about the lives of 5 women and although there are male characters none of them are ever seen on the stage. If I recall correctly only one of the French texts even had a female protagonist - Thérèse Desqueyroux by Mauriac and she was a pretty pathetic character.
I graduated from high school in 1972, and we read absolutely zero. Oops, I take that back after looking at the author list. We did have Edith Hamilton's "Mythology."
High school 1983-1987
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Good Earth
Playing Beattie Bow - Ruth Park (Australian writer)
The Diary of Anne Frank
and probably another couple by women, along with Orwell, Huxley, Steinbeck, Cormier, All Quiet of the Western Front, WW1 and WW2 poets - no female poets.
My son read this year: Looking for Alibrandi and To Kill a Mockingbird among others. 2011 he will read Sorry and another by a female writer which has slipped my mind!
It funny but I dont remember much discussion about the possible differences between female and male writers - differences that gender play - much more about the themes, plot etc. My son did To Kill a Mockingbird this year and they had some wonderful discussions about social justice and did alot on feminism, social equality etc. He was the only boy in a class of 25 girls so he got a good grounding from the female perspective! Long may it live..
I did my HSC (Higher School Certificate) in 1986, and Jane Austen's Emma was one of our novels studied. Neither play was written by a woman, and neither poet was female, and neither was Shakespeare (that was what was studied: two novels, two poets, two plays, one Shakespeare).
My friend who did "general" English (I was in the literary stream) studied Tracks by Robyn Davidson, and my other friend who did an extra lot of English also studied The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead.
In other years (before the all important HSC) I do remember Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata; To Kill a Mockingbird; Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank; Playing Beattie Bow (not sure if that was studied, or if I just read it while in High School); and another book whose name I cannot remember but dealt with suffragettes in London.
There were probably (hopefully!) some that have slipped my mind.
My sister studied Mrs Dalloway and Pride and Prejudice for her HSC two years before me.
ETA: And then both my sister & I went on and studied Science (and, in her case, Medicine) so that was the end of our formal literature education!
I keep coming back to this thread, trying to remember a single book written by a woman on our A Level syllabus in 1981. We had two Shakespeare plays, some Chaucer, Great Gatsby, Bleak House and Howards End - those are what stick in my mind, none of them by women.
I'd long since read my way through most of Jane Austen and the Brontes under my own steam at home, but none of these were set at school - and I don't recall anything more recent than the Fitzgerald and the Forster either.
It was the Oxford and Cambridge Board syllabus which we followed, quite a traditional (and clearly very 'dead white male' focussed) syllabus, at quite a traditional school.
The only ones we read were To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Anthem by Ayn Rand, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. We also read some poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elizabeth Barret Browning. Goodness, I didn't even realize how few there were until I read this topic! That really sucks. I'll have to work on this when I'm an English teacher.
EDIT: In my contemporary Lit class in college we read a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin and Paradise by Toni Morrison. I know that wasn't in middle or high school, but they are the only other books by female authors I have read in an academic setting that I can remember. I hope the English Degree I'm about to start fixes that a bit!
American high school, 1991-95: our record was terrible. As far as I can remember we read zero books written by women. We did read some women's poetry and short stories, as well as some essays (I remember some Isak Dinesen, and "The Lottery" along with copious Anne Bradstreet.) Our high school focused very heavily on American lit, and we did several Hawthornes, quite a bit of Melville, etc. We also did some Shakespeare every year, the Canterbury Tales, the Decameron, etc.
And lots of Anne Bradstreet. Did I mention that? That's what happens when you grow up in the 13 colonies.
Yes, I clearly remember the Lottery from high school. I didn't include it in my original post though because it's a short story.
I don't remember reading lists from junior high sadly - although I do remember we read The Diary of Anne Frank.
In the late 90s/early 2000s in high school we read:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Summer of My German Solider by Better Greene (although I can't remember a single thing about this book so I'm wondering if I skipped it for some reason)
In addition there was one assignment where we could pick from a number of books. Among the choices were:
Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
There may have been some others but I can't recall right now. I do know we read a lot of Shakespeare, Dickens & Hemingway (never quite sure why those three, although that worked for me because I like them all). Looking back, it's a pretty limited choice of female writers although better than some other lists on here! Thankfully, the selection of female-written books in college courses was much better!
I almost forgot about The Lottery. I read that in my American Literature class, along with like one Anne Bradstreet poem. I also read some poetry by Elizabeth Barret Browning and Edna St. Vincent Millay in my senior year when we were studying sonnets. And a few of the essays we read in our essay section were by women, including Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. I think my teacher that year really tried to do as much as she could within the confines of the curriculum. She was awesome.
29> I know. You'd be surprised how many high schools read Ayn Rand these days simply because the Rand Institute give away free copies of her books to schools as a means of proselytizing. If a school can't afford full sets of other books for classrooms they have to take what they can get. It's really rather sad.
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