It’s been a pretty interesting week of teaching all and all. On Monday I was still feeling the effects of the norovirus so there was some definite ups and downs. And, of course, now that the semester has set in and its has been really quite cold outside, the students were on the quiet side.
But there was some highlights as well. In my Monday night elective, we worked on the first half of On the Road and “Howl”. Students at my college really take to Kerouac and Hemingway (from the week before). I showed them the connection between the two writers, particularly made manifest by their common utilization of Ecclesiastes; for Hemingway, it is in the epigraph and for Kerouac it is in the text. Always a thrilling moment. I think what most draws them to On the Road, though, is that while it admires Dean M/Neal C, it is not written in the spirit of Dean/Neal. There is a great deal of sexual energy, freedom, and desire present. But ultimately the tone is more in keeping with Sal/Jack. The need to talk, the need to connect, before the sexual act. The search for something called God as something to salve the soul.
We didn’t get to spend as much time on “Howl” as I would have liked. But one student was really turned on to Ginsberg and plans to write his research paper about him. Those moments are what make teaching so rewarding.
Meanwhile in my freshman experience class, I tried to mess with the freshmen’s heads by suggesting that literature is actually a form of technology. It is a somewhat daft notion (though not completely daft). If nothing else, it is an interesting thought experiment that gets them to try and discover what literature really is and does. That it is not useless.