Now that grades are in and my syllabus for next quarter is done, I thought I’d write a little about how I thought this past quarter went.

I taught two classes this term — a graduate class on Restoration literature and an undergraduate course on Lesbian & Gay Literature. Overall, I thought they both went well. My undergraduates were certainly among my best group of students I’ve had in that class. My graduate students were also great, so I feel like I was especially fortunate this term.

I thought the readings in my undergraduate class were especially well chosen (if I do say so myself). We read three gay-male authored texts and three lesbian-authored texts. We read Larry Duplechan’s Blackbird, Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Felicia Luna Lemus’s Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties, and Chrystos’s In Her I Am.

I didn’t do a very good job with Borrowed Time. It’s just too emotional a book for me to think rationally about. As much as I love Monette’s work, I don’t think I’ll teach this one again.

I really liked Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties. A student in my class last year recommended it, so I read it. I thought that it raised some interesting issues, so I decided to teach it. Reading it again with my students, I really loved it. I would definitely teach this one again.

I’ve wanted to teach Chrystos’s poems for a long time. I think my students got a lot out of reading her volume of poetry, so it too will probably stay on the reading list.

I required my students to keep a “queer notebook” for the class. This journal allowed them to record their thoughts about our readings and discussions. It also required them to keep an eye out for issues of gender and sexuality in their daily lives. It was an amazing assignment to read. I loved their work in these notebooks. With only one or two exceptions, they all did an excellent job in this, so much so that it often led me to raise issues in class that they initiated in their notebooks. For example some of them wrote about MTV’s True Life episode entitled “I Work in the Sex Industry.” We discussed that episode for several days as more and more of us watched it after the initial or subsequent discussions.

My graduate class also seemed to go well. Officially speaking, Restoration literature is my area of specialization, so this class is right up my alley. But in reality, my work and scholarly interests have moved on and broadened. For me, this led to a kind of intellectual disconnect. I enjoyed the class a lot — and my students were great — but I wish that I had offered a different seminar instead. I would have gotten more out of it if I had taught a class on the mid or late eighteenth century lit or even one on queer lit.

My students were great. Collectively, they might very well have been the smartest bunch of graduate students I’ve taught thus far. I was often impressed with their analysis of the texts we studied. If I taught the Restoration again, I would definitely cut out a little of the poetry — Anne Killigrew’s perhaps — and one or two of the plays — Lucius Junius Brutus, for example. I would also probably drop Oroonoko. Instead, I would teach some of the non-fiction so that we could get at some of the philosophy and science from the period.

So, all in all it was a great quarter. I haven’t read my evaluations yet, so I don’t know if my students agree. But I think it went well. Hopefully next quarter will go at least as well.

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