Beauty and the Pen

jane russell

Jane Russell writing, 1951.


This weekend, students in my four college classes are finishing up their writing portfolios. Their bright ideas were drawn from American film this semester, under the following broad topics: race, class, gender, and (dis)ability.

Translation from teacher/cultural-studies speak?

That means they’re writing about American Indians living in the late 20th-century Northwest (Smoke Signals, 1998), Oakies migrating from the Dust Bowl to California (The Grapes of Wrath, 1940),  carnival performers on the prowl and out for revenge (Freaks, 1932), and an intelligent, antisocial dwarf named Fin McBride (The Station Agent, 2003).

And, the always lovely Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Dir. Howard Hawks, 1953). Maybe diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I have to think the pen is a close second. Write on, students, write on.



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