Grosvenor and Burke suggest that continually, though silently, a school building tells students who they are and how they should think about the world. It can help to manufacture rote obedience or independent activity; it can create high self-confidence or low self-esteem.
Most of the great works of juvenile literature are subversive in one way or another: they express ideas and emotions not generally approved of or even recognized at the time; they make fun of honored figures and piously held beliefs; and they view social pretenses with clear-eyed directness, remarking - as in Andersen's famous tale - that the emperor has no clothes.
Attempts to limit female mobility by hampering locomotion are ancient and almost universal. The foot-binding of upper-class Chinese girls and the Nigerian custom of loading women's legs with pounds of heavy brass wire are extreme examples, but all over the world similar stratagems have been employed to make sure that once you have caught a woman she cannot run away, and even if she stays around she cannot keep up with you. ... Literally as well as figuratively modern women's shoes are what keeps Samantha from running as fast as Sammy.
But I think that sometimes, when one's behaved like a rather second-rate person, the way I did at breakfast, then in a kind of self-destructive shock one goes and does something really second-rate. Almost as if to prove it ...
in a sense much great literature is subversive, since its very existence implies that what matters is art, imagination, and truth. In what we call the real world, on the other hand, what usually counts is money, power, and public success.