Teaching

Over the past few American TV seasons there’s been a surfeit of hour-long crime procedurals—The Mentalist, Hannibal, Criminal Minds, Elementary, The Following, Perception, Bones, etc—that showcase a brilliant-but-troubled-and-yet-charismatic individual (men typically, or teams lead by men) whose singular capability relates to unraveling complex but blood-drenched mysteries or tracking down one of myriad singular-and-sociopathic-and-yet-charismatic serial killers. No one else can solve these grisly murder cases, of course.
Of the lot, anguished Will Graham on Hannibal (a guy forever soaking his t-shirts after yet another tortuous nightmare from the David Lynch school of surreal bad dreams) is my favourite because he’s such a tormented Romantic figure, possessed of unique sensitivities and insights that are useful gifts as well as woeful debilitating curses.

Anyhow, if Special Agent Graham somehow jumped out of his world (where creative but merciless psychopaths are a dime a dozen) and into mine (where, I’m thankful, they are not), he could stand in my office and within thirty pained seconds have me profiled. With astonishing, almost paranormal acuity he’d discern exactly what sort of teacher I am.
What might his scan of my office deduce? Let’s see…
Decorated walls: an individual who reacts to any institutional environment by claiming personal space.
Jade plant (salvaged): someone sentimental about the disadvantaged (such as plants and animals).
Office chair, in orange: despite white collar occupation and middle class values, the office occupant considers himself both non-conformist and a relative outsider.
Vintage Green Slime poster, framed folk art, objets trouvés, serial photograph keepsakes from a photo booth, toy robot: the case-study possesses a keen interest—as well as catholic and idiosyncratic taste—in popular culture.
Disorganized books (contemporary fiction, by and large; mostly Canadian): his personal affinity for reading tends toward the contemporary, as does the texts he usually chooses to focus on in literature classes.
An absence of texts by Bhabha, Derrida, Foucault, Irigaray, Žižek, Cixous, Baudrillard, Jameson, Butler, Spivak, Lacan: the completion of M.A. and PhD. studies coincided with the end of intensive study of (and interest) in literary theory.

As with his eurekas on each and every episode of Hannibal, Special Agent Graham’s profile here contains a few kernals of truth.
In addition what Mr. Graham has to declare, the Department of English keeps an archive of courses taught by all faculty. I started teaching in 2001 (and average seven courses per calendar year), so the search might take awhile.

Otherwise, the majority of my teaching focusses on 100-level courses, and that means introductory courses about literary genres (poetry, drama, fiction, sometimes film) and composition classes geared toward essay writing (how to organize and express ideas as well as possible; how to write within and for a scholarly context). The upper-level classes I’ve put together over the past five years have included dystopian literature, contemporary utopian writing, thematic surveys, historical fiction, the contemporary novel, crime fiction, and Canadian fiction.

One thought on “Teaching

  1. I should have read “Not Man Enough” an hour ago, but I got so caught up exploring through your blog. Why did you have to make it so interesting?! By the way, it’d be awesome if you could somehow incorporate Hannibal into our lectures somehow. =)

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