[SPA CULTURE] Ep. 3: Talking Literature of Resistance with Minoff and Morrisette

Lynn: Hi, I’m Lynn, an Opinions editor for the RubicOnline, and welcome to the third installment of the SPA Culture Podcast. For my last episode, I am going to be talking a little bit about the Literature of Resistance English class, and their resistance projects.

Lynn: Literature of Resistance is a second-semester English course that focused on local resistance movements. I talked to Upper School English Teacher Amanda Minoff who teaches the class about its curriculum and semester project.

Minoff: So I’m teaching this class alongside Ms. Collier and we wanted to implement an activity, or an assignment, that allowed students to actually engage with the act of resistance. We’ve been reading a lot of texts that model resistance in different ways, but we wanted to give students the opportunity to really think for themselves what resistance means to them and what issues are important to them. The semester project assignment gives students the chance to pick a topic; social injustice, environmental injustice, that’s important to them and think about what would be the most meaningful way for them to engage with that. Earlier in the semester students proposed their topic and this week the actual resistance action was due. Next week, they’ll submit a report where they’ll reflect on how the texts we’ve been reading in class informed what project they chose and how they’re engaging with resistance, and they’ll include a reflection where they reflect on how to project went for them and what they might have done if they were given infinite time and resources because this was a relatively short time frame for them. That was our thinking around the semester project.

Lynn: Many students have done activities that involve the SPA community, whether it be hosting events through clubs, inviting students to write letters to legislators about felon disenfranchisement, or bringing food to food shelves. Senior Addie Morrisette had a sign-making party. You can read more about her experience in an article written by Liv Larsen published a few days ago titled “Morrisette holds sign making gathering for Line 3.”

Addie: For my Literature of Resistance resistance project I’m hosting a sign making gathering for people to make lawn signs to bear messages of support for the water protectors who are protesting Line 3.

Lynn: The Literature of Resistance class is offered every other year, and this year is focusing on resistance movements prevalent in the Minnesota community.

Ms. Minoff: In terms of the texts we had students read, we really wanted to center the class on local resistance movements, so we started out by reading Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, and talking about indigenous resistance and how it’s related to environmental resistance, and our second unit focused on incarcerated writers, so we read a lot of texts by incarcerated, or formally incarcerated, poets and essayists and they’ll work with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. Most recently, we’ve been reading a lot of reflections on the uprising of last spring and summer. Now students are doing their own reflective project in response to that.

Lynn: A lot of students say they inspired by the readings they did in class, in Addie’s case the documentary Standing Rock and the book by Louise Erdrich Love Medicine which were both about indigenous resistance.

Addie: I was really inspired to do something for the Line 3 resistance movement because we watched a documentary about Standing Rock and I hadn’t really been following Standing Rock that closely when it was actually happening, so I learned a lot about water protectors and the indigenous movements to protect the climate and future generations, and so I was very inspired by that and wanted to do something in that realm.

Lynn: Just last Thursday and Friday, the Literature of Resistance teachers, Ms. Minoff and Ms. Collier, hosted a Memory Project during X-period where students read and wrote letters reflecting on their experiences. You can check out Elle Chen’s piece titled “Memory Project honors student voices during a historic time” to see more!

Lynn: Thank you for tuning into this episode of SPA Culture! I hope you managed to involve yourself in the activities your peers or students have done with the project, and are inspired to do more work outside of school. Thank you so much for listening.