Instructors’ Teaching Experience

I feel like this story works best when taught in conjuction with another work which explores expectations for women. I have often wondered if there is a similar story for men, one that might be called “Boy.” Though I never did it, I wish I had made my students write such a story in a style that mimics Kincaid’s. [L. Sweeney,]

Because it’s so short and so lyrical, I find that “Girl” is useful for having students interrogate the overlap between literary genres: Is it is short story or is it a poem?  Just having them argue that out enforces close reading and jump-starts a good conversation about its content, too. [L. Row-Heyveld,]

Classroom Strategies

I taught this story in conjuction with Toni Morrison’s Sula. The goal was to get my students to consider how women are expected to behave so as to complicate Sula’s action. As an informal assignment I had my student craft their own list of rules and expectations that have been given to them by their parents which I would then have them read aloud to the class. I liked this activity, as did the students, as it showed a great deal of commonality in how they were raised, but also got them to think about what their parents wanted to learn. [L. Sweeney,]

I have also taught this with Sula, but I find it works just as well with any text that focuses on societal/gender expectations.  I’ve used it with everything from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to Jeffrey Eugenide’s The Virgin Suicides. [L. Row-Heyveld,]

I used LeDon’s idea and asked my students to write stories called “Boy” that mimicked Kincaid’s “Girl.” It ended up being a great exercise because I think it made the students engage in a different kind of close reading. They were being asked to show that they read the story closely enough to mimic it, which is a change from analyzing it in a reader response or class discussion. The results were great, and I think the guys in my class were happy that the girls had to imagine what it’s like to be male given the number of female experience stories we’ve read. [S. Goehring,]