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Ms. You from San Francisco CA is requesting Books through DonorsChoose, the #1 classroom funding site for teachers.

Reading as Escape or Enlightenment? Kiss of the Spider Woman

Help me give my students exposure to the Latin American Literary Boom and help them become reflective, college-ready readers with a global perspective!

  • $1,066 goal

Hooray! This project is fully funded

Hooray! This project is fully funded

My Students

As everyone knows, San Francisco is a city with truly alarming and ever-increasing income inequality. This reality makes itself felt in the classroom in multiple ways. For example, there is insufficient money for books. We struggle to replace books we have lost and can only manage to buy new texts in small amounts. This means that syllabi must be constructed not in accordance with what makes pedagogical sense, but according to when the already limited texts you want to teach are available. Additionally, our students' access to cultural capital, despite the fact that everything seems to be within reach, is minimal and in some cases, non-existent.

Our school is full of hard-working students who are often the first in their families to go to college.

While these students need hard skills to make it when they move on to college, there are plenty of soft skills they need as well: the ability to appreciate works of art, the willingness to make sense of something that isn't immediately familiar or knowable, the desire to pursue questions that challenge their deepest held assumptions, to name a few.

My Project

Over the years, Manuel Puig's bold and experimental novel has consistently been a student favorite because of (rather than despite) the challenges it places in front of students. Kiss of the Spider Woman is set in the context of the Dirty War in Argentina, allowing students to examine the relationship between oppressive governments and their interest in policing gender identity and sexuality, as well as to interrogate the ethics of escapism in the face of political oppression. Both of the questions remain strikingly relevant today, more than four decades later.

Through its use of radically different textual "textures" (such as government documents, academic articles, and dialogue), Kiss of the Spider Woman exercises students' critical reading abilities in a way few texts can.

Students must constantly reflect on what kind of reader they are: do they read to escape? to engage? Can they delay gratification and read through an academic footnote, or are they unable to resist being pulled along by the narration of various B-movies? Which textual surfaces do they think "deserve" deeper analysis? Which, if any, don't?

Additionally, the Latin American context provides opportunities for student research, allowing students to make use of cultural and political contexts to complicate their understanding of the novel. We will also pursue, in greater detail, the novel's subtle reference to Plato's Allegory of the Cave, the perennial mind-blower for high school students. Most importantly, this novel is EXCITING! With no other literary work have I seen my students get "mad" at a classmate for spoiling major events by tweeting her reaction to a particular textual detail: "OMG Molina is a . . . !"

Ms. You
Grades 9-12
More than half of students from low‑income households

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Where Your Donation Goes

Materials Cost Quantity Total
Kiss of the Spider Woman • AKJ Education $11.64 68 $791.52

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Project Activity

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