Back to School
I’m fully back in school mode already. Happily, after a rotten summer course, I have a course load I’m excited about and profs I think I’m going to love. While I’m enthusiastic about this term, already I’m feeling some anxiety about the workload. I put all the deadlines on the calendar today, and it’s a little daunting.
Tuesday afternoons I have Four Contemporary Canadian Writers. We’re reading lots of works by Findley, Atwood, Ondaatje, and Urquhart. Thursday afternoon is The Body in Feminist Thought, which I think is going to be fascinating. It’s my first philosophy course—I was worried about that but it turns out the same is true for much of the class so the prof is going to give us a grounding in some of the relevant major theorists as we go. It’s the first time the course has run and the professor is really enthusiastic about it. I love that. I also think the subject matter will give me lots of interesting blog fodder—I’ll keep you posted.
Thursday evening I’m doing a course on The Romantics; specifically, we’re looking at Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, and Shelley. I love this prof already. His name is John Unrau. He’s very funny and outspoken; he encourages creativity and doesn’t have much time for critics or theory. This is the last time he’s teaching the course; unfortunately, the suits at York, in their wisdom, are forcing him to retire this year. He has a reputation for being a wonderful teacher and I’m glad to get a chance to learn from him.
I’m really hoping my university experience can end on a high note (this is my last year). I started my degree at Trent, which has an amazing English department. Having to transfer to York is my one regret about moving to Toronto (I would have preferred U of T, but York was willing to give me more transfer credits). At Trent the classes were small and all of the faculty I encountered were dedicated, approachable, and excellent teachers. The same cannot be said of York.
A truly great professor can have such an impact on his or her students’ lives. I’ve had one like this--his name is Zailig Pollock and he taught me Shakespeare at Trent. He encouraged my writing and urged me to rely on my own insight, and not just parrot what I’ve read or been taught. I had to move to Toronto in the middle of the semester and missed some classes. On two occasions, he invited me to his home to help me catch up—we sat in his study and discussed King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra, one-on-one. I can’t imagine an experience like that at a huge university like York.
If I end up teaching, I hope I can make an impact. I’m not going to do it unless my heart is in it. I’ve been on the receiving end of too many lousy teachers—I don’t want to be one of them.