Weekend Catch-Up: Reading, Thinking, Watching

IMG_3152Where does the time go? It seems like I only just finished reading The Danish Girl, but here it’s almost a whole week later and I haven’t written another word here.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. In fact, in among the other business of the week (which included the department’s traditional “May marks meeting” and a stint at the M.A. Colloquium, another yearly event at which our current crop of M.A. students present their thesis projects) I actually spent many hours reading Steven Price’s forthcoming neo-Victorian novel By Gaslight (no small job, as it is 700+ pages). But since I am going to be reviewing it (for Quill & Quire), I won’t be blogging about it. I also started reading Curtis Sittenfeld’s Pride and Prejudice rewrite, Eligible, but that too is for a review (for Open Letters Monthly) — so again, no blogging!

12860696I have also been reading, in dribs and drabs, the critical books I’ve collected about romance fiction and Westerns, taking some first steps towards prepping for next winter’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ class. I have been enjoying the new ideas and frameworks raised by these materials, and they have started a lot of things turning around in my head. But since I haven’t been working on them in a very concentrated way this week I haven’t felt I had anything in particular to say. I’m sure I will! And I have also been kicking around, in a very preliminary way, how I might organize the course, and especially the readings. I am puzzling, for instance, about whether it would work to assign only full-length novels in a first-year course. I have taught many different incarnations of our introductory classes, but every one has included some blend of short and long readings. Short ones, of course, have many advantages when you’re working with beginning students: they can get the whole thing read reasonably quickly and you can begin to practice the analytical skills you want them to learn with material they can easily manage. Then you can build up to longer texts. In some of the genres we’ll cover (detective fiction, for instance) it is easy enough to find good short options, but this seems harder to do with romance. (I found one that I think might work quite well — Liz Fielding’s “Secret Wedding,” which is cleverly metafictional about romance conventions — but it seems to be available only in a Kindle edition, and I’m currently stumped about whether that rules it out as a required reading.) I’ve also been thinking about starting with some Victorian ‘pulp,’ specifically Lady Audley’s Secret — but I’m worried that they might bog down in it, especially if it’s the first thing we read. You can look forward to (or dread, I guess) many more updates as my thinking about this course develops. And, as always, I will welcome input!

The other thing I’ve been doing is working my way through the final seasons of Buffy, mostly while doing my morning runs on the treadmill (putting a TV on the wall right in front of it was a very good idea!). I have just three episodes to go now in Season 7, and — and here’s something I never thought I’d say, back when I struggled through the first few episodes — I am going to be very sorry when I’m done! I realize I can watch it all again, but at this point I’m still very caught up in the whole “OMG what will happen next?!” experience. And, I should say, I really do not know what is going to happen as the series ends, so please don’t tell me! (It’s probably some kind of miracle that I have avoided basically all spoilers about the show for all these years.) I’ll probably try to write a bit about the show when I’ve finished it — though I wonder why, in a way, when it’s old news to almost everyone else.

And that catches me up! Next week I hope to settle into more of a routine, something that’s always harder once classes get out and the to-do list becomes so much more amorphous.

P.S. The daffodils in the picture are in the Public Gardens: finally, signs of spring are busting out all over.

4 thoughts on “Weekend Catch-Up: Reading, Thinking, Watching

  1. lawless May 14, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I, for one, would welcome your perspective on Buffy. I’m especially interested in how you felt about the last three seasons.


  2. Ana @ things mean a lot May 15, 2016 / 6:01 am

    I echo what the previous commenter said – Buffy might be old news, but your thought on Buffy are certainly not!


  3. Teresa May 15, 2016 / 7:48 am

    I am so delighted that you’ve ended up enjoying Buffy so much. It’s a bit of a touchstone show for me (my cat is named Anya, after all), and I’d love to read your thoughts in more detail, especially regarding the highly controversial season 6.


  4. Amateur Reader (Tom) May 16, 2016 / 10:56 am

    I figured Buffy would work for you in the end – well, long before the end. It is all about the characters, really. It took me a while, too, to get past the makeup, silly martial arts fighting, and questionable acting on Buffy. I never did grow to like the fighting. The young actors all got better – in some cases much better. Whedon loves actors, actors love Whedon.


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