Intersecting Identities

Teacher:Lise Brody

Would your parents recognize who you are in school? Would your teachers recognize who you are with your friends? How many worlds come together inside each of us? In this course, we’ll read, think, and write about the inner and outer factors that make us the crazy, complicated people we are.

Unit I: All About Me. And Me. And Me.

Do you ever feel like a crowd of people in one body? Are you an actor playing roles? Which is the real you? How do you switch from self to self? If you gave up one of your identities, could you still be you? If you added a new identity, would you still be you? In this unit, we will explore who we are and what our identities mean to us. Readings will include short works by Dorothy Allison, Toni Cade Bambara, David Sedaris, and others.

Unit II: Crossing Cultures

The experience of living between cultures is not uniquely American, but it sure does happen a lot here. So many of us have had to bridge different languages, expectations, and ways of seeing the world. In this unit we'll read literature that explores that experience, including The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston and stories by Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Grace Paley, and Edwidge Danticat.

Unit III: How Did I Get This Way?

This will be an independent reading unit in which we'll examine the ways a character's sense of self is shaped by hir experiences. Book choices will include (subject to change) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (honors); Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron; The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat, and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.


Graded work for this course will include personal narrative and analytical writing, as well as project work that engages with the texts and central questions.

Skills Assessed

Analysis (35%); Composition (35%); Oral Expression (this includes participation in class discussions) (15%); Work Habits (15%)


Honors isn't just extra work: it's more challenging work. Expect the honors assignments to require harder thought, deeper reading, and more complicated writing assignments. Honors students may be required to attend extra help.

Extra Help

Please come! My extra help is on Monday afternoons or by appointment.

Course Expectations

Risk Taking and Respect

This class includes discussion, personal exploration, and creative work. In order for it to be (1) fun and (2) meaningful, everybody needs to feel safe and respected. It is important that we give both others and ourselves permission to take risks and speak our thoughts, and that we listen to one another with attention and generosity of spirit.

Computer Use in Class

Computers should be closed in class unless we are doing in-class writing or group work. Please bring a notebook for taking notes.

Cell Phones Too

Turn them off and put them AWAY.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is claiming someone else’s words or ideas as your own. That means:

  • copying/ pasting something from the internet or another source without quote marks and citation

  • paraphrasing something from any source without citation

  • using someone else's ideas without giving them credit

When in doubt, CITE! If it’s in the gray area, it IS plagiarism. I take this very seriously.

For more information on the Academic Honesty policy, please refer to the student handbook.

I will take cases of plagiarism to Dr. Arnold with the first offense.


All homework will be posted in the course web-page. You are responsible for work assigned while you are absent. I will make accommodations for serious illnesses and real emergencies.

Late Work Policy

I grant no-strings, no-questions-asked extensions, provided you request them before the end of the school day at least two school days before the assignment is due. If you do not have an extension, I will accept late work up to two weeks after the due date, but the work-habits grade will drop one letter grade per school day (whether or not we have class that day). If you hand it in more than two weeks late, I will accept it, but it will receive a maximum grade of F. If you are failing the course due to missing work, please do not ask me to design special extra credit assignments for you.

Course Documents