Thursday, 15 January 2009

Buddha, Bowie and Suburbia

In September 2007 we were going to put focus on multiculturalism in England. As our point of departure we chose an extract from Hanif Kureishi's novel The Buddha of Suburbia. The text deals with clashes between different cultures in England, and also clashes between generations. As an appetiser to the text, we found a video with David Bowie's song from the TV series which also includes some glimpses of the protagonist of The Buddha, Karim. We also watched an interview with Hanif Kureshi that was given when the TV series was to be broadcasted in Britain. Unfortunately, I cannot find this interview on YouTube at the moment, this is of course a weakness of some of the resources you can find on the internet, but there are several other interviews and videos out there which can be used when introducing this text/topic. The students seemed to like the two videos because they gave them something visual that could be linked to the text, and I believe some were a bit curious too having seen Karim's father upside-down, in the nude, practising yoga...

Anyway, some of the students found the extract we had chosen for them to be quite difficult, and I believe an easier text could have presented the conflicts of this novel just as well . We therefore decided not to put this text on our reading list this year. Maybe the text would have worked better if the students were older, and also if we had read the whole novel, not just a few pages. Talking about The Buddha of Suburbia we also have to keep in mind that this novel portrays multicultural London in the 1970, and that a lot has happened since then. My point is, however, that using videos from for instance YouTube can serve as an introduction to various topics we all deal with when teaching a foreign language like English. I am 100% sure that the introduction to the novel that Hanif Kureishi gave in the interview mentioned above is a whole lot better than any introduction I could have given.

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