Or the post about the reasons I haven’t been posting.
For those of you who look at insignificant features like dates, you will notice that it has been nearly three months since I last wrote something for this blog, which is a very long time in Internet years. Let me put it like this: I was holding a friend’s baby last night and that baby was not yet born the last time I updated this blog. In the time it has taken me to think of something to write about, a small human being has figured out how to breathe, how to suck, how to cry, that he has two hands and how to smile.
I really feel like an underachiever at the moment.
I have merely figured out how to stand up in front of a class full of students and talk. I’ll say a bit about teaching, but I don’t plan to write much about it for the very simple reason that, if you google my name, this blog will sooner or later turn up and I have far too much respect for my students to talk about them on the Internet. Also, if I were to go on and on about how brainsplatteringly terrifying it can be to be suddenly in charge and expected to know things…well, that’s unfair to them in a rather different manner.
It’s also not strictly true. I mean, there is something intimidating about facing a room full of people and suddenly being the teacher when most of your experience has been sitting in a classroom and being the student. But I am reliably informed that a) It gets better with practice, b) If you ever get to be completely blasé about teaching then you should reconsider because your nervousness means that you’re doing something new and exciting and that’s not a bad thing and c) Everyone’s second class goes better than their first. (On the very small chance that you are both reading this blog and in my 5 pm section, I apologize for unintentionally using your class as a dress rehearsal sometimes.)
But, yes. Teaching. It is happening. I now understand the value of the lesson plan (which you would think I would have worked out, given how absurd all of my teachers who eschewed them ended up looking) and I am working on mine for tomorrow. Since the class itself is on Detective Fiction (mostly Noir), I’m currently trying to decide whether to go over the structure of the detective story and look at how the detective arrives at his (or very occasionally her) conclusions or focus on the characters in the story, especially the detective. But since I am not grading your participation on this blog, dear readers, it doesn’t really affect you which I choose to focus on. (The answer, by the way, is probably half and half. I’ll see how comfortable they feel with the structural elements and, if they’ve got it, we’ll move on to character).
I feel a bit strange about class, just because the semester’s beginning has more or less coincided with Succot and I have been slingshotting back and forth between eating in a palm-fronded hut and furiously underlining German theorists (the ferocity refers to speed rather than my emotional state. I quite like Walter Benjamin when he’s dealing with technology). My own classes feel oddly relaxing, both because I know I am not responsible for structuring the discussion and because I don’t need to worry whether or not everyone is getting a chance to say what they wish.
But if I’m not going to talk about teaching and I am not going to talk about what I am doing in class and I have finally gotten over the fact that Yom Kippur here did not include the right tune for “Marei Kohein” (more or less), I am left with not all that much to talk about.
So I will just leave you with something I’ve started thinking about for detective fiction. After four short stories and one novel-length mystery, here are the stats:
Detectives: 3 male, 2 female
Victims: 3 male, 5+ female (unspecified number of women preyed on in one story)
Killers: 3 male, 2 female, 1 simian
This is it for female detectives this year, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of the female corpse or of the femme fatale. At some point, I want to do a section about misogyny in detective fiction if the professor teaching this course doesn’t get there first.