Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth


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I’d wanted to say this yesterday but I got distracted: Bernard Malamud’s “The Jewbird” (which I found in Bich and Porter’s book and used for my class on a sort of whim) is actually a really good story to teach in 105.

What’s neat about this story is the way that Malamud borrows heavily from “The Raven” to tell a similar but very different story, this time about identity. I didn’t even notice the Raven connections the first time through, sad to say — but once I got hip to it I became very excited to teach the story. Here, the black bird (which the main character is seemingly able to wound/kill/get rid of, but not before sustaining a injury to his nose that leaves a permanent scar and blows it up to three times its normal size) represents the Jewish identity he has tried to leave behind.

I even got to show a clip from Treehouse of Horror I on Simpsons DVDs I borrowed from the BCR’s Svengali-Rasputin-and-Don King-all-rolled-into-one, Dan “Danforth” Albergotti (henceforth, the Chairman of the Funk).

The only downside was that I had some technical problems with the projector in my first class — some jerk stole the DVD player’s remote control, which made it impossible for me to navigate the menus until I switched the projector over to the computer and ran it that way –that undoubtedly cost me huge chunks of influence with that class; but the second class still loves me, and I think the first class forgave me / forgot about it entirely once I finally got the projector working.

Good story, anyway, for all you intro-to-whatever teachers out there. A lot of good stuff about identity and about intertext. Plus, Simpsons. From when it was good.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 1, 2005 at 2:51 pm

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