Or maybe literary scholars really are a joke.
Sometimes in class I can’t help but think, “Wait, wait, wait. It’s just a book, guys. It’s just one author . . . right?” I’m not an author, but someday I could be–and I’m totally full of BS.
Not to say real authors are full of BS. Not to say stories are BS. Stories and the people who write them have changed me, the world, our way of looking at reality and humanity. But seriously, one time Ernest Hemingway sat in a high school English class and learned all this cool, new stuff about his book. At least that’s what legend tells us.
Is this a bad thing? No. But worth consideration. Or at least a laugh.
Yeah, can we just at least laugh at our research papers? Ha ha ha ha, I just spent 80 hours writing this paper and my conclusion, yet again, is that there is no real conclusion, but here’s my well-developed guess. Ha ha ha ha ha!
Come on, can’t we just acknowledge that this is funny?
I feel like I’ve got all these secrets. Like my sense of humor. I’m scared to keep laughing (I’ve already laughed a few times) because apparently no one else thinks that what they (improper use of the third- person plural) want to spend the rest of their (improper use) life studying is funny.
I do have all these secrets. I don’t know what the H I’m studying. Sure, American Lit. I want to know more about my people. Oh, um, when I say “my people,” I don’t mean I assume ownership over others or view myself and my country as a binary opposite to all others, therefore elevating myself and demeaning others. I mean, I want to study the country I live in. Oh, what time period? How about the 19th century? Wait, what’s the difference between late 19th and middle-late 19th? Oh, I don’t know whether to study African-American lit or Women’s lit or Asian-American lit–how about all-American lit–like all of them? Wait, is that offensive? Oh, by the way, when I say American lit I mean the United States of America…n lit because America refers to North America, South America, and Central America. I wouldn’t want any confusion there. Not that I wouldn’t want to study South or Central American lit–I just have to specialize in something–at least that’s what they tell me, and to be honest, I don’t speak Spanish. I can read Old English, though. Question: Does studying British lit count as studying American lit since most of us came from there? Oh yes, of course, excluding all the Native Americans who were already here and all the other immigrants from all over the world. You know what, don’t worry about it. I’ll just stick with United States of American lit, middle-late 19th century, uh, women’s lit, specifically African-American women’s lit.
Thank goodness for teaching. I believe in what I teach about writing and rhetoric. I love everything I read for class before class. It applies to everything. (Last week we watched the Presidential Debate–it was hilarious and we learned something.) As I was telling some friends, “I wish I learned this stuff twenty years ago, when I was three. It would have helped a lot.”
I believe in my students too, that I can learn from them just as much as they can learn from me. They’re bright, they’re eager, they like to think. Sometimes they make mistakes in their papers (okay, a lot of times). Sometimes they use the wrong term. They’re people, though. I like people.
And that’s the thing with some of these scholars–too much thinking, not enough real people. It’s not bad . . . just. I’m not sure if it’s me.
(Currently trying to figure out what to do about this. Maybe specialize in writing and rhetoric instead? Or just laugh unashamedly?)