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Old 09-26-2013, 03:59 AM   #1
Prestidigitweeze
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The original interview by author and part-time instructor at Victoria College, David Gilmour:

http://www.randomhouse.ca/hazlitt/bl...trong-stomachs

Holger Syme's amusing response to the interview:

http://www.dispositio.net/archives/1688

Gilmour's piece about Virginia Woolf:

http://the-toast.net/2013/09/25/davi...irginia-woolf/

My take:

If Gilmour can’t identify with authors who are superficially unlike himself, then, logically, he can’t identify with characters who are unlike him, either. That makes it hard to believe he could be a decent fiction writer or know enough about characterization to teach literature.

Sample quote from Gilmour's interview:

"Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth."
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Old 09-26-2013, 08:46 AM   #2
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I can see why you didn't mention anything about practical humility in the subject line of this thread.

I've never done a literature course (beyond high school English classes), but I didn't think the point of studying literature was to study only that which you love (or, in this case I think it may actually be: that which reinforces or inflates your own self image).

I don't expect to easily identify with every character, or even the main characters, in every book I read - that is part of the challenge.

Holger Syme says: "The exact opposite of Gilmour’s point is true: good teaching requires empathy — an effort to understand things, ideas, and people totally unlike you. Some of those people are your students."

And isn't this a large part of why we read, to see things differently? Well, apparently, that doesn't apply to everyone, but I did think it would apply to those that study literature beyond high school. If a teacher can't see beyond those things that instantly appeal to themselves then how are they going to help students to look beyond the obvious?

Most of the best teachers I had were ones that made learning an exploration, and they did that by making it seems as if they were exploring as well. In many subjects this requires a certain amount of acting on their behalf, as they've obviously heard most of it before, but in the study of literature that exploration should never have to end.

I guess a writer doesn't have to have empathy for others, we've all read books like that, and they have their place. But I do think that those I consider good writers do have that empathy, or, like good teachers, are good enough at acting that it does the same job.
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Old 09-26-2013, 08:55 AM   #3
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There's not much for us to discuss just yet, gmw -- I think we're in agreement!
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:13 AM   #4
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Damn, I knew I was doing something wrong.
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:40 AM   #5
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Oh my goodness! I am amazed that he got as far as he did in his career when he doesn't seem to get the whole point of stories, or at least one of the main points, which is to create empathy and understanding of those unlike ourselves.

I would also like to point out that it was a young woman who won a very famous "scary story" contest in the 19th century...
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:09 PM   #6
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Book Riot has a response in GIFS...
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:44 PM   #7
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And there's a response from the man himself:

http://arts.nationalpost.com/2013/09...ne-in-my-body/
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:23 PM   #8
Anna Drake
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So, I am unwelcome? Drats and blast. I read books written by men. Are not men willing to read books written by me? Well, perhaps that is unfair. Of course, my writing is not representative of my gender. But of all female writers, only Virginia Wolf is worthy? Ugh, say it ain't so, Joe.
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:37 PM   #9
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It ain't so jo, but there will always be cliques and bigots.
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Old 09-28-2013, 08:57 AM   #10
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41 Books David Gilmour should read:

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/26/41_b...r_should_read/
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Old 09-28-2013, 09:00 AM   #11
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Book Riot has a response in GIFS...
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:53 PM   #12
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Of course this is just silly but on the other hand he teaches good writers. If the college assures that the students have other literature classes too with a greater diversity of writers I can't see such a big problem. It's another thing if this is the only literature course.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Of course this is just silly but on the other hand he teaches good writers. If the college assures that the students have other literature classes too with a greater diversity of writers I can't see such a big problem. It's another thing if this is the only literature course.
Well by the same token, I've seen many "Women's Literature" courses that only covered woman writers... "Black Literature" courses, etc. etc.
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:12 PM   #14
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Well by the same token, I've seen many "Women's Literature" courses that only covered woman writers... "Black Literature" courses, etc. etc.
That, exactly, is the core of it. In essence, there is no difference, but those that you mentioned are accepted, while a focus on works by heterosexual men is seen as chauvinistic and homophobic. I feel that they are all equally narrow minded.

Last edited by Mivo; 09-28-2013 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:53 PM   #15
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Thinking back to my high school and college days I only remember reading one female author: Mary Roberts Rhinehart.
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