After graduating from high school, I received an orange softcover book in the mail from Occidental College. The book contained seven selections that covered a variety of topics, genres, writers, and sociocultural perspectives. Each selection was partnered with a series of questions at the end.
That's right: I already had homework, and I hadn't even signed up for classes yet!
The eighteen-year-old me thought this grievously unjust and swore not to read any of them. But I did a rare thing: I broke a promise, and I read one selection, the first one in the book. I never read any of the others. (Note: if I could tell my past self something about this experience, it would be simple: "Hey, are you looking forward to being called out by your professors in front of a whole bunch of incredibly attractive peers who actually did the reading and now think you're an idiot for paying thousands of dollars for material you're just going to blow off? No? That sounds like it would suck tremendously as an introduction to college? Then read your little book.")
But the one I read...well, I feel the same way about it as I did about ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, or The Catcher in the Rye, or To Kill a Mockingbird, or 1984. I realized mid-read that a) I was reading something truly great, b) that there was no way I could write or think as well as this man could, and c) that I wanted to try.
I read the selection. I did the questions. It was the only thing I was able to talk about during those first-week discussions.
Mr. Feraco, pet peeve here. I just need to point out to you, you put man after the sentences that are:I realized mid-read that a) I was reading something truly great, b) that there was no way I could write or think as well as this man could, and c) that I wanted to try. When it should be he/she since the author of To Kill A Mocking Bird is Harper Lee a *woman*. Everyone forgets she and S.E. Hinton that wrote The Outsiders are female! Sadness.
You misunderstand. "Man" in the sentence you quote is correct because I am referring to Dr. King's work specifically.
Moreover, many adults refrain from using he/she in their work; we ask you to as students because we're building fundamentals, but the term is clunky. At Occidental, my professors told me we could simply choose which pronoun to use. Some of my classmates used "she," "her," or "hers" as the default pronoun - even when, yes, referring to a generalized figure that could very well be male (authors, for example); I use "he," "him," or "his" as the default in mine. So some would write "An author must choose her words judiciously," while others (myself included) write "An author must choose his words judiciously." It's a matter of personal preference and style.
Note, however, that when I write to my students, I do use he/she, him/her, or his/hers whenever it's appropriate, and I almost always do the same while lecturing. Oftentimes, I avoid sentences that require me to use such a clumsy and self-conscious (by design) term. But I know that for an audience of teenagers, the usage of the more general term is more appropriate. I follow my advice to you: I target my audience, and write accordingly.
Oh....I felt like total anal obessive idiot right now. Thanks for clearing it up for me Mr. Feraco! It's just whenever I see my teachers or someone list off authors with both male and female they use he/she or him/her. So I thought maybe that was the mistake...my bad I'm so sorry Mr. Feraco! So so sorry!
Why do I feel "Now You Know" shoot star thing just happened behind my head? lol Thank god I know now, it'll teach me to "put my foot in my mouth" till I understand it fully. Thanks for explaining Mr. Feraco! That's what makes you the best of the best english teachers!