Wednesday, June 16, 2010


As teachers, we don't always know whether we're reaching our students, or we don't get the chance to see how what we teach them remains part of who they become. But I've been tickled pink all day today because former students have been posting status updates and sending me emails, all about a book that I teach only every four years and a book that really does hurt their feelings for eight full weeks. And you know what? That's pretty rad.

Happy Bloomsday, one and all.


English Adjunct said...

That is pretty rad and thanks for reminding me of the day. Happy Bloomsday.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. How can a book hurt students' feelings?

Dr. Crazy said...

Books can TOTALLY hurt students' feelings. I would say here are the two primary ways this can happen:

1) At the level of the language and the text. Students find the book difficult, but they stick with it until they finally think they're kind of getting it. Then, the book punches them in the face with something completely incomprehensible. The student feels betrayed, stupid, and like the book can't be trusted.

2) In terms of content, when a book challenges things the student knows to be "true" and forces the student to consider other possible truths. The student then feels like nothing he/she believes or has been taught has any meaning, and can fall into an emotional crisis.

Now, you might say that this isn't about "feelings" but about intellectual development. I'd say that the two can't really be separated out. If it's not about feelings, then students wouldn't cry in my office.

Doctor Pion said...

They are upset because they didn't know those were all English words? Because they can't understand why it was banned? Because they have to read Homer and study Greek mythology to understand part of its structure?

But I'm impressed that you teach that book, and I like the idea of cycling through a set of major books so students in your department overlap with ones who have and have not read it in class.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am very sheltered teaching physiology, because I have never had a student cry in my office over a book.

And I've read a gajillion books, and never cried over one. (Although I am a pompous arrogant douchebag, and whenever I am reading a book and it "punches me in the face", I punch the fucker right the fuck back! Stupid fucking book!!)

Dr. Crazy said...

You've never had a student cry in your office? Dude, I have at least one student cry for me every single semester. The literature: it hurts the feelings of the students :)

(Note: this is in classes from first semester comp, gen-ed intro to lit courses, to courses in the major in English. Now, this could be because I'm a totally mean lady, or just a lady, but I really do think the books hurt their feelings.)

Anonymous said...

You literature professors must just be mean old meany-pants.