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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bloggin' thru Wed

8:28. I have taken four separate modes of transportation to school this semester. Car, bike, feet, and bus. It's only the third day I've taught so one of those days must have been a day I came in just to work and not teach. Today there was snow so I took the bus, a very, very crowded one, with two of my graduate students on it. After we get off they tell me it's always crowded. I look to see what exact passages of Gadamer are assigned for today. I skim over a few passages to get my unconscious mind at work on those.

8:32. I look at syllabus for undergraduate course, realizing that I covered material on Monday that was listed for today. So I have to make a plan of action. I make lesson plan consisting of numbered list of what is going to happen today in the class. It takes me half an hour to do this, along with writing the instructions for the 1st paper and answering some emails.

9:03. Back to Gadamer. "All performance is interpretation." I discover that he makes some of the exact point I made in class the first day, but much more eloquently. I take it back: Gadamer is a singer. I am intellectually prepared for class today, but not pragmatically prepared. I know what the content of the three hours is, but I have not planned it out sequentially.

9:10: I decide to do this. Since I am very lazy I will do it as part of the blog post:
I. Initial impressions from the first day. What worries do you have?

II. Clarify the prohibition on "application." Not that you cannot cite primary texts or use examples: the main purpose is to build up to writing a paper than defines your own critical approach through a comparative study of a theoretical problem. You compare 2 theorists' approach to a critical problem. This prepares you for the theoretical introduction to your dissertation. A standard form, like a sonnet.

II. Impressions of Gadamer? What strikes you about this text? [relative absence of jargon? clarity? wordy, but clear style? How systematic a thinker does he seem to be? How "self-contained" are the passages we read? What questions should we always ask of a theoretical text.]

III. Gadamer presents, not a theory of literature, but a theory of understanding in the humanities. This can be philosophy, history, or literature. Or art history, music history... He doesn't present a "methodology" for how to approach a text. This is very important. It jives with my own sense of not giving you a series of interpretative "methods." There is no Gadamerian approach to interpretation, no critical metalanguage you can apply.

IV. Discussion questions (handed out by email on Monday).

V. Discussion of quote on page 851, column 1.

10 minute break.

VI. Henry V.

VII. Back to Gadamer. What other questions have we not resolved?

VIII. Benjamin. Why does it belong on the same day of class as Gadamer? What is his style of writing? How does it compare with that of Gadamer. What is the historical situation of the text? What does he mean by "historical materialism"? What is the effect of having short, numbered "theses"?

IX. If there is extra time after this: what would a paper comparing Gadamer and Benjamin look like? What would you start with.
9:25. Ok, I did that in 15 minutes. I am fast! I look at things on the internet now. I can justify it by diverting my attention from what I am "supposed to be doing" and letting my mind work unconsciously.

9:41. Lorca! I am going to try to come up with subheadings for "Hermeneutical Introduction." I do this.

10:00 coffee break.

11:00. Teach undergraduate course. It goes very well.

12:18. Decompress. Right before class I think of another idea about the prologue to Henry V. The speaker, or chorus, is a direct mouthpiece of the writer, but talking from the point of view of the actors and stage hands. I could develop this even more. I work on Lorca, then have lunch at 12:50. Back at my desk at 13:18.

13:18. I look at what I am doing next week in the theory course. I have no notes on those readings. That's fine.

13:34. I realize I zoned out for a few minutes there. I don't want to do last minute psyching for class now, because I have 2 1/2 hours before.

14:02. I work on some other things, including the Lorca / Strayhorn research.

14:40 I've been with the blog, and getting myself psyched now for the long class. I love those last minute ideas.

15:08. Now I look at my plan again. I should probably print out those discussion questions for myself.

16:00-19:00. I teach the theory course. I eat dinner downtown and walk home from there.

9:10. My face is frozen having walked home a mile, but I am hot once I am inside. No more work for today.

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