What's on my mind.

22 July 2008

Writing Implements

A comment on Sarah's post about Gender Genie reminds me of the English professor* (actually most likely a grad student) I had for World Lit. II (mid-19th to mid/late-20th century). World should perhaps be in scare quotes since almost everyone/everything we read was by an English speaking author and most of the more modern stuff was by Americans, but that's a whole other story. Much as Nick's mate's class found masculine and feminine imagery in everything, this professor found sexual imagery in everything.

One day when we broke up to discuss a short story (don't remember the name) in groups, the group I was in tried to find the most ridiculous things (usually because there was something better and more obvious) to make into sexual references. For example, the wife is using a candle snuffer to put out the chandelier in the dining room leaving the only light in the house the fireplace in the living room. She moves the candle snuffer, obviously a phallic symbol, away from her body. I don't remember what we said it meant. A shallower reading of the piece might have had one commenting that she's making the house dark to wait for her husband's body to be brought home, how silly. Probably the funniest thing she did was while discussing this story she started talking about a scene in a Steinbeck short story I'd read in American Lit. And read excessive, to me anyway, sexual imagery into it. Taking off gloves is not, without other indications, a proxy for getting undressed.

It's not that phallic symbols don't show up in stories or that there are never any subtle images, it's just that I tend to think the simplest explanation is more likely to be correct and what the author intended.

*I feel like I've written about this before. If so, I'm sorry. I hope I'm not repeating myself.

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