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“Women in Lit”: A Class Embracing What it’s Like to be a Woman

Lane Tech High School, bustling with 5,000 young adults in Chicago, is home to room 229 that houses a comfy couch and a stack of Ms. Magazines piled up in a corner. “Welcome to Women In Lit!” Considered “not just another elective” by students, Honors Women in Lit musters up words such as “it is a safe space”, “proud to be a woman”, and “Women in Lit classmates have become family.”

“The Women In Lit class intends to highlight female authors,” says Courtney Feuer who has been teaching the course for 13 years. The course explores the voices of female writers from a variety of historical and cultural perspectives. Students discuss the changing roles and representations of women in literature from Biblical texts to contemporary writing. Mainstream courses typically don’t provide exposure to the breadth of female literature; it is not uncommon for English courses to barely cover female authors. “ The Women In Lit class fills that gap, and exposes students to the countless female authors out there,” Feuer continues. Kimberly Casas, a junior says, “We cover authors of every color of the rainbow, gender and sexuality, and social class.”

In today’s world, where the differences amongst us often get undue focus, it is the small, close-knit environments that build bridges and unite us. Women in Lit certainly does that. The safe space fosters student lead conversations about women from different parts of the world and finding commonalities and experiences that all women face. “Students seem to be very inspired and engaged by the texts and really connect with them because they are identifying all these commonalities between women in the world and their own experiences,” Feuer goes on to say. The impact of this course is not limited to the classroom but is felt school wide. This year, the Annual Women In Lit Festival took place on February 12th and was attended by hundreds of students, who came to view an array of projects ranging from “Gender Stereotypes” and “Muslim Women” to an interactive“Black Women’s Hair” station where students learned how to braid hair.

“We redefine what it means to be a feminist,” Casas says. This class truly highlights diverse perspectives from women across the globe. What is even more fascinating is how a local high school’s English elective can encourage so many youngsters to discover, write, and embrace what it is like to be a woman. Feuer ends with “A young girl’s experiences are valuable and unique, and when writers write about them it lets girls know that they aren’t alone or misfits.”

About the Author

Hey y’all! My name is Anoushka! I am an 8th grader at the Lane Tech High School Academic Center Program in Chicago. I can be seen chattering in the halls there, wearing my eclectic collection of pop culture shirts. I enjoy debating, singing and playing various musical instruments, traveling, leadership opportunities, and keeping up with world affairs. I am part of the Tri Music Honors Society and Student Council at Lane as well the Chicago Children’s Choir. I consider myself to be an activist. I still have not decided what to pursue in the future, but writing to teens across the world is something that is truly exciting! I aspire to break the “glass ceiling” one day by making a difference person to person, day by day. Until then, I send my love to y’all through my writing! My contact email is alal13@gmail.com.

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