Heartaches and hard-won wisdom: Exploring coming-of-age short stories

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff


WEEK 1 (click here for presentation slides)

  • Introduction to the coming-of-age genre: history, background, cultural examples and the process of coming into one’s “selfhood”
  • Identification of common coming-of-age themes: separation from parents; friendship; love and sexuality/gender; cultural/racial expectations; class/money concerns; mentors
  • Reading and analyzing short texts: guiding questions, frameworks for analysis
  • Read two short pieces by Sandra Cisneros from “House on Mango Street” and practice reading, identifying and discussing themes

WEEK 2 (click here for presentation slides)
Discussion of “The Jacket” by Gary Soto and excerpt from “Bastard out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison

Themes include: class/money concerns; mentors; parents.

WEEK 3 (click here for presentation slides)
Discussion of “What Means Switch” by Gish Jen and excerpt from “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff

Themes include: cultural/racial expectations; friendship; love and sexuality/gender; parents; mentors.

WEEK 4 (click here for presentation slides)
“Where Is It Written?” by Adam Schwartz and “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier

Themes include: cultural/racial expectations; mentors; parents; class/money concerns.


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Last Updated: 4/22/2013