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Rush - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Tonight's graduate class was devoted to A) a discussion of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, a novel of dissolute late 1960s Hollywood, and her non-fiction about the same period from The White Album; B) a screening of the Maysles brothers' classic documentary Gimme Shelter, chronicling the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour and its savage conclusion at Altamont. It was a devastating and highly instructive combination. The shot of Keith Richards singing along to "Wild Horses" in Alabama's famous Muscle Shoals studio, followed by a close-up of his weather-worn cowboy boots keeping time is one of my favorite film moments. And Didion means the world to me. It was a great night in the classroom.
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nos4a2no9 From: nos4a2no9 Date: October 26th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
What is participation like in your graduate seminars? My professor is from the U.S. (U Penn) and she runs her seminars very differently than my Canadian profs. She is highly critical of students' work and goes over the faults of their smaller response papers in class; she also seems more interested in macropolitical issues than examining literature or the lived experiences of the people/social classes we discusss. I'm just wondering if this is a trend in American graduate seminars, or if the two American profs I had were anomolies.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 26th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
While American professors probably tend to be a bit more intensely "professionalized," particularly the sort whose reputation allows them to guest teaching gigs, I think what you're describing is a trend within a certain segment of the professoriate rather than a wider-ranging difference. As you can probably tell from reading me, I'm not fixated on the profession or on making myself or others act professionally. In seminars, I try to strike a balance between the collective scrutiny of passages or sequences and engagement with more "macro" concerns. It sounds like the professor you describe was just trying to be a hard ass. On the part of my nation, I extend a hearty apology. . . :-)
From: batdina Date: October 26th, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have The Year of Magical Thinking sitting by my bedside, waiting for me to finish rerererereading The Scarlet Letter before commencing teaching it this Friday. Can't do the fun reading until the work reading is done. Ah for the days when fun and work were less distinct.

I haven't been able to get high school seniors to be very interested in Didion, which makes me sad because it might mean I don't get to teach her any longer. Suggestions for a younger age groups? White Album didn't work and I can't find copies of Slouching Toward Bethlehem anywhere.
From: zokah Date: October 26th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I saw a few copies of Slouching Towards Bethlehem at Cody's (on Shattuck)the other day. I would imagine now that she has a new book out, more of her older stuff will be ordered for the shelves.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 27th, 2005 03:22 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I think Slouching is readily available now.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 27th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'd bet that Play It As It Lays would work, under the right circumstances. Plus, it has the pre-Roe vs. Wade abortion plot, which is a nice way of framing contemporary debates. It has lots of white space, which students tend to welcome.
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