Friday, December 08, 2006
Funny Classroom Conversation
Yesterday in my fiction class, we workshopped a story about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse having lunch in a dive bar. It was a fun story, but the author hadn't identified the Horsemen explicitly, instead relying on their personalities and conversation to clue in the reader. Several people in the class were annoyed, because they hadn't been able to figure out who these characters were. One student, in particular, was a little grumpy about being left in the dark, although others -- including an older female student who's Muslim -- really enjoyed deciphering the clues. In our discussion, I pointed out that the author had automatically limited his audience by relying on cultural knowledge that not everyone has.
Author: But I thought everybody knew about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! You hear about them on Republican talk radio all the time!
Grumpy student: Well, I'm not Christian, and I don't listen to Republican talk radio!
Me: I am Christian, and I don't listen to Republican talk radio.
Female Muslim Student: I'm Republican, but not Christian.
Watch those stereotypes crash and burn!