24 April 2008

End of Term Musings

Here is a list of some topics I have contemplated with my Advanced Romantic Poetry students this semester:
1.  What it feels like to change from a human into a werewolf;
2.  Voyeurism;
3.  Gender reassignment surgery;
4.  What the soul looks like;
5.  Why snake women are bad;
6.  Why you should try to feel like a member of the opposite sex, just for a moment;
7.  Whether heaven is crowded;
8.  The fact that Percy Shelley was a complete bastard;
9.  The nonetheless greatness of his poetry, including the total rockingness of the second and third stanzas of The Mask of Anarchy;
9.  The wonders of Gregory Peck;
10. How difficult it is to sever a rotting head from a rotting carcass with a dull knife;
11. Relative rates of circumcision in America, Britain, and Muslim countries;
12. The complete coolness of the Learned Pig;
13. The power of feet, as compared to heads;
14.  Whether or not Byron was a good lover (no, in my opinion, in case you're wondering);
15. Bizarre but applicable remarks by my parents and my friend Jennifer.

Here is a list of topics I have not covered with my Advanced Romantic Poetry students this semester:

1.  Wordsworth's engagement with Kantian philosophy
2.  The influence of the slave trade on Romantic literature and culture;
3.  Any women poets at all;
4.  The connection between the Cockney School of Poetry and political liberalism;
5.  The Romantic rejection of Enlightenment tenets and poetic structures;
6.  Virtually any relationship between Romantic poetry and Romantic culture at all.

Do I feel guilty?  Yes.  Do I feel like I lack as a teacher this semester?  Yes. But the truth is, I had a wonderful semester teaching them, and since my semester was quite, quite horrible in other ways, I'm feeling that maybe it doesn't matter.  And they do all seem to be producing astonishingly rich and complex papers, so perhaps I stimulated them after all.  

So, next time I teach Romantic literature, a way more historically based course.  But this semester, no real regrets.

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