In About Love, filmmaker Archana Phadke offers a revealing portrait of her own family. Three generations of Phadkes live together in Mumbai, India’s financial center. A reasonably well-resourced family, they nevertheless are challenged by the contradictions of making a modern life within India’s Hindu and post-colonial nationalist structures that empower men while marginalizing women.
As Archana interviews her mother she is surprised to learn that the woman who raised her treasures time to be alone so that she can gather her thoughts and write. The writing gives her voice in a situation where she feels like no one listens to her.
This lesson offers students a chance to link and contrast Maneesha Phadke’s need to write with literary giant Virginia Woolf’s famous claim that in order to write, women need money and a room of one’s own (both of which have typically been denied by sexist cultures, laws, and customs). Teacher’s can guide students to explore as much or as little of the specific historical context for Woolf’s writing as suits curriculum needs. It will also be easy to add or skip research skills by assigning students to find information on Woolf or simply supplying the relevant background.
The point of introducing students to Woolf and Maneesha Phadke is to prime them for a metacognitive exercise in which they think about (and write about) their own writing. How do they carve out space and time to ponder their own thoughts, find their own voice, and express themselves? What can they learn from those who have gone before about the challenges, strategies, and rewards of finding ways to share their own voice?
A Note from Curriculum Creator, Dr. Faith Rogow
As educators, we often talk about the importance of students having voice—a chance to discover who they are and express themselves. But we rarely take time to guide them in practices that might help them do just that. Using the filmmaker’s mother, Maneesha, as both example and inspiration, this lesson gives students an opportunity to make an intentional plan that provides them time for reflection and creativity.
- English/Language Arts
- Modern Literature
- Women’s/Gender Studies
- Creative Writing
Grade Levels: 10-12
In this lesson, students will:
- Be introduced to the work of writer Virginia Woolf
- Understand Woolf’s comment that for women to write they need “money and a room of one’s own,” including how the comment applies to modern women
- Understand how carving out time to reflect is essential to having a public voice
- Make a plan for creating their own space to reflect and write
- Excerpt from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own
- Film Clips from About Love and a way to screen them
One 60-minute class period with homework and an option for students to share their writing.