Challenging heteronormativity through literature - Teaching David Levithan’s "Boy meets boy" with norm critical pedagogy

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: There are many reasons to use literature in the language classroom. It can help pupils developtheir abilities to read, listen, speak and write. Literature can also give pupils new perspectivesand cultural enrichment. The aim of this study is to show how teachers can use literature tocombat intolerance and homophobia. The thesis statement is that David Levithan’s novel Boymeets boy can be a valuable resource for teachers who want to use norm critical pedagogy intheir teaching of English as a second language. Norm critical pedagogy is a pedagogicaltheory that focuses on norms and their roles in power structures. Norms are usually taken forgranted and made invisible and the first step in any norm critical work is therefore to discernthem. Boy meets boy can help pupils do that. It introduces readers to a world withouthomophobia, a world where hetero-, homo- and bisexuality are considered equally normal.Heteronormativity is disrupted, and readers are encouraged to question their assumptions ofnormalcy. It could thus be argued that Boy meets boy is suitable to use as a starting point fornorm critical discussions on gender and sexuality. This essay contains a literary and didacticanalysis of Levithan’s novel as well as examples of norm critical exercises for the languageclassroom.

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