Things overheard in the classroom….

That could sound dirty if your mind is always in the gutter (like mine).

“So, did you go back to your Schlegel?”

Given that the semester has just started, I think this might have to become a regular feature.* Today’s selection is brought to you by overly pretentious philosophical discussions of literary theory. Who knew that German philosophers’ names could sound so wrong?

*Let me note: I have a love/hate relationship with literary theory. While reading it, I feel like everything else in the world disappears and it completely enraptures me. What I don’t like: when it becomes a tool for what I like to call “intellectual masturbation.” This is just my way of staying sane in the midst of literary discussions that often boil down to nothing more than academic versions of chest-beating.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Oh man how I feel your pain. Eng 200 Introduction to Literary Studies on Monday mornings for me. Lots of young turks with fancy words to experiment with. Just fifteen more weeks, just fifteen more weeks….


  2. Ian: I’m glad I’m not alone! I think that’s what sucks though: I do really enjoy what I do, and the few “young turks” as you say (I like that), have the ability to at least make me regret the class momentarily (I get over it once I realize how ridiculous their posturing is in hindsight, but it still sucks).


  3. You don’t know posturing til you take a grad level poetry class! Some days I thought I just might leap across the room with my fangs bared like the killer rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


  4. Dewey: oooh, I’ll have to remember Monty Python while I’m sitting in seminar. Perhaps it will keep me from foaming at the mouth too much when I hear the phrase, “Hegelian dialectic…”


  5. Lit crit as literary masturbation – i spewed out my coffee over that one. I, too, have a love/hate relationship with it – on the one hand, I it really helped open me up to an entirely new way of looking at literature, but on the other, well, enough already…


  6. Everythinginbetween: I hope the coffee didn’t make a mess! I think the historian in me has a hard time when critical discussions become too philosophical and I just want to scream: “So what? So what do I do when I get to the archives!??” I agree with you–lit crit can open doors to literature and completely transform the way I envision the world. And there’s a part of me that revels in the mental gymnastics my brain performs while reading it. On the other hand, as in the specific instance that sparked this post, it can make me cringe when it devolves into little more than a competition of who can say the longest and most esoteric words (and how do they keep a straight face?).


  7. LOL, we used to call it Intellectual Self Gratification. Same difference. There was a time when I was in love with lit theory, but, unfortunately, it passed. Blarrg.


  8. Now in my 21st year of academia, I could not agree with you more…maybe that’s why I love blogging so much. It’s got the attitude to it that lit theory always seemed to be lacking…


  9. Andi: My love affair with lit theory is an on-again/off-again type of relationship… Generally, it seems to be in off-again when in group discussions, which is not helpful at all.

    Rusvw: I know I’m glad that I finally ventured into the blogging world, if only because it allows me to come back to earth and remind myself that what happens in course discussions is not, really, that important at all levels of my life. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog!


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