Yesterday was a special day in two of my three classes. It happens every semester, and I will christen it "Week-All-But-Three-Students-Don't-Do-the-4-Page-Reading-Assignment" Day. Every semester, around week 3 or 4, this happens: 3/4 of the class (if not more) just totally blows off a day's assignment, and then I get to be the Big Bad Professor who has to call them on it. This happened at Fancy Research University where I did my graduate work, too, but the difference in the way that students respond here is different. At FRU, the students seemed to have a sense that they were blowing off their work, and they expected me to call them on it. They were somewhat chastened, but they never apologized, nor did they claim not to have known about the assignment. Conversely, at this university, the students seem 1) entirely surprised that I can tell that they didn't do the work and entirely surprised that I call them on it, 2) entirely surprised that I expect them to know what is assigned by reading the syllabus and that I actually stay on schedule with the syllabus, 3) entirely upset and worried that I will think that they are irresponsible. I kind of think that they are irresponsible, but more than that I think that they are testing to see what they can get away with. It's a normal thing to do, I'd say. But at any rate, that was yesterday. Today, in Intro to Lit we'll be finishing "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and I'll be transitioning into drama stuff and introducing Krapp's Last Tape, which they'll be watching in its entirety Thursday. I'm really excited to see how they react. This will be the first time that I'm teaching it in Intro, and I know that it will challenge them, but I think that it's important to introduce them to "drama" that is neither a musical nor Shakespeare nor Trifles (which is in every damned anthology) nor a Tenessee Williams play (not that there's anything wrong with Tenessee Williams, but it's often the only drama to which they've been exposed other than Shakespeare and Trifles in a classroom setting). So yes, that's what's up with teaching. We shall see how this all goes.
I entirely loved the film. Random reflections on my experience watching the movie (which might give a little away but not the ending of the movie, but nevertheless read at your own risk):
- There was an awkward moment, right after the first scene of fucking, at which I had to tell the old people (who I think thought it was a regular cowboy movie and not a two-male-cowboys-fucking movie when they bought their tickets) to shut up. I have a voice that really carries, even when I whisper, so it was kind of embarassing when I said in irritation "Could you PLEASE be quiet?!" At the same time, though, they'd been chatting it up from the beginning to that point, in spite of the fact that CBF and I turned around and gave them the evil-shut-up-in-the-movies-eye a few times, and I could not have them ruin my experience of the film.
- I was horrified that a number of the audience laughed at Ennis's story about the cowboy who was murdered when Ennis was a kid.
- I do think that Heath Ledger's performance was wonderful, but I also think that the reason that people are praising him and pretty much ignoring my boyfriend Jake Gyllenhall is because Jake Gyllenhall actually plays a gay cowboy whereas Heath Ledger plays a straight cowboy who just happens to fall madly in love with a man. Cruising for Anonymous Sex with Men in Tijuana + Cheating on one's One True Man-Love seems to = that people will not be comfortable praising your performance. Or maybe it's just the bad mustache that did him in.
By the way, I realize that this probably should have been two posts, but I started it as one, so there you have it.