Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A blue and white dance

Worldly things seem to be coming together for me. Despite paperwork SNAFUs, my degree-obtainment is drawing near. I’ll “walk” on December 16 at the winter graduation. I’ve bought my master’s gown; it comes with some kind of blue-and-white hood. This is to distinguish the graduate degree obtainers from the bachelor’s degree obtainers, I suppose. Blue and white are my university’s colors, but I am not sure university spirit is the reason for their presence here. Maybe they mean “English Literature.” I suppose I should find out, research the matter, which is easily done these days. Ah, here we go: “A master's degree gown merits three inches of velvet trim in the color of the college awarding the degree and an oblong sleeve, square-cut at the rear with an arc cut-away at the front.” Does that answer the question?

I have already been offered a basic English composition/literature course to teach in the fall of 2008. It will be strange to be going back and forth between buildings, a secretary for most of the day and a “professor” for a few hours a week. (The part-time adjunct instructor category is officially “lecturer,” but the students tend to think that the person in front of the room is actually a “professor.” Or a fool. Or something in between.)

Oh, I have all sorts of plans, daydreams. I want to make them write. I want them to crave and adore the written word despite its failures and flaws. Like the deaf, dumb and blind title character in the rock opera, “Tommy,” with his pinball machines and blindfolds for everyone, I want to inflict my own idiosyncratic solutions to not-necessarily-universal problems on vulnerable others. While they pay for it.

From a slightly different angle, it can be seen that to teach is to perform, but it’s also to invite others to perform, whether out loud or in writing. Such invitations may be ignored, and instructions for performances are always provisional and often misunderstood. Still, something might happen when I teach my first English class that won’t be happening if I’m not there. Although that can be said about anyone, that would be cool!


Marcus said...

Congrats, Marilyn! My own higher education life becomes more a thing of fantasy by the year. But I do feel that someday I'll be in shoes very similar to yours.

I took my freshman comp class at UAH, by the way. The great thing about a 101 is how much room you have to interpret what needs to be taught.

Fuck them up a little, ok? I hope to see you over the holidays this year.

Felicia said...

Yes, belated congratulations, Marylyn! I am so proud of you, for so many reasons...and you're going to be a fantastic teacher; part performer, part psychologist, part disciplinarian, part writer-reader. They couldn't ask for more. And most importantly, you really want to be there, teaching them. That's more than could be said for a lot of their teachers, I'm sure.