Children's lit course examines gay issues
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
The English department at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia has made news with the introduction of a 'special topics' course which integrates children's literature with gay, lesbian and bisexual issues.
As one of two half-courses being offered to upper-year students, the cirriculum will examine several levels of children's literature with discussion on the parody, excesses and exaggeration of sexual orientation, said assistant English professor Steven Bruhm.
Bruhm said he hopes that through the discussion stimulated in class his students will gain a more acute and sophisticated sense for reading the signs which attach themselves to our culture and children's literature. "There has been a whole tradition of seeing homosexuals as stunted in growth and it's insulting."
The course had its first run on Wednesday and has received a positive response from students interested in debating the issues. "I was more of a traffic director than a lecturer," Bruhm said.
Some are not shocked by the introduction of this type of course such as the director of Western's Research Facility for Gay and Lesbian Studies James Miller, who said this type of study is nothing new.
But the inclusion of controversial books, such as Heather has Two Mommies, is a new angle which Miller said he hopes will spur discussion both on the controversy and content of the book. "If these books do anything, they will bring shocking news that gays and lesbians are shockingly normal."
Peter Cumming, a lecturer of the Children's Literature 133E course at Western, said although a special course does not exist here he does touch on issues of gender and sexual orientation in his lectures but can't go as in depth because of the structure of the class.