Monday, September 10, 2007

Stealing Student Eyeballs

You know, when I interviewed for my job, they asked me what the relationship was between my research and my teaching. Now, in retrospect, I know that that's supposed to be one of many cues about the significance of teaching to our little SLAC. At the time, however, I was a sincere graduate student looking for a job. "Well," said naive little me. "The teaching actually feeds the research."

I meant it of course, and I suppose that I've had vague experiences in the past in which something has come up in class that has inspired me to run off and read up on things. Last week, however, I had the real deal. I'm teaching a seminar to majors. It's a seminar that I've taught before, and one that I've never gotten quite right. I've overhauled and redesigned the course, and swapped out many of the texts. I happen to be teaching a novel by an author that I've actually written an article on; an author, in fact, that I long considered writing my dissertation on. I know this bee-yotch, inside and out! I own her and all her works! Last week, however, one of my perspicuous students, however, noted a truly weird syntactical pattern in the novel. I've noticed it before, but the class really ran with it, and I realized that it's dovetailing with some ideas I've had about the genre in general. As I'm finishing up the reading for class tomorrow, I'm realizing that this syntax is all over this novel. Holy beezus! How did I manage to miss this before?! Why haven't any of the other critics besotted with this author noticed it either?!!

Well, clearly, it's because they don't have my class of wondrous curious students. Rock on, students, for letting me see things through your eyes. Even if you're not nearly as excited about your own discoveries as I am.

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