Porn versus Literature: “Dreaming in Cuban”

I was notified today by NCTE that the September Newsletter was in. Among varies topics, this one struck my eye “Critically-Acclaimed Novel Is Banned in Arizona after Parent Complains about Sexually Explicit Passage.” Beyond the title of this article though is an even more controversial issue over the content within Cristina Garcia’s novel, “Dreaming in Cuban.”

Garcia’s novel was recommended by the Common Core Standards yet it is being ridiculed for its scandalous content. Please take a minute to read the article below to understand the content in which I am commenting on.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/dreaming-in-cuban-banned_n_3922846.html

My concern is how this type of novel was approved and RECOMMENDED by the Common Core Standards yet is receiving so much criticism. Does the content of this novel “break the boundaries” of what is acceptable in a classroom? I personally don’t believe I would be comfortable having my students read this, let alone read it out loud, in my classroom. However, I do see how this novel represents a new genre of literature and how students can relate to be; let’s be honest…our students are sexual beings. Although the content is so graphic, it has the potential to interest students and to get them to enjoy reading. This is a positive in motivating students to read, especially outside of the classroom.

I don’t believe I am ready to teach this type of content but I highly respect any teacher who does. It takes a risky but confident person to be able to present and discuss such risqué content with adolescents. This is definitely content I would suggest be read outside the classroom for pleasure (no pun intended) but not read out loud as a class.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Porn versus Literature: “Dreaming in Cuban”

  1. In Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire Rafe Esquith talks about his encounters with parents who were upset about the content in films he lent students. He ended up making every student have a signed parent consent form in order to be part of the film club.

  2. Wow. Very interesting! I personally don’t feel that I would be comfortable teaching this content to students either because of the graphic images created by the text. However, our job is to reach out to the students using their interests, and I have to admit, I was certainly interested in the short passage I read. I think where our hesitation comes from is that not all of our students are going to be as sexual as others. Therefore, this content would make them feel uncomfortable and may even spark an interest in sexuality that may not have previously been there. This could be harmful to those students who could be 14, 15 years old. This may be more appropriate for juniors or seniors. In my opinion, if it’s something that students in high school shouldn’t be engaging in, and I think we would all agree that high school students probably should not be sexually active, then they probably shouldn’t be reading about it. It is just a bad influence. There are other ways we can connect with our students and use their interests for their benefit.

  3. I think it would depend on the class. I was taught “Dreaming in Cuban” in high school as a senior and I loved it. We talked about the graphic scenes and the hows and whys of why Garcia may have used them. I think that sometimes we try to suppress curiosity and natural questioning. Literature isn’t always pretty and it certainly isn’t always clean. By cutting pieces like “Dreaming in Cuban” out of classrooms, I feel we may lose an important lesson. “Dreaming in Cuban” is so much more than a graphic sex scene, it’s about culture and family and politics and it’s beautifully written. As a teacher, I would want to acknowledge the sexuality in the book and then move on and I’d be willing to bet almost all the students would move on with me. When we treat it like it’s some huge faux pas, I truly believe we create more problems than we solve. So, I really like your compromise of not wanting to risk it in front of the class, but being willing to have students take it home and read it as their own personal choice. I can respect that. I’m curious though, what will you do if a student wants to talk to you about the book? Or wants to do a book talk on it?

    • I am open to any student who wants to explore! If a student actually WANTS to do a book talk about a book of this content, I would be thrilled to have to them do it. I am not afraid of having this content in my classroom, I’m more so concerned with how comfortable I would be in discussing it with students.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s