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Old 09-28-2013, 07:31 PM   #16
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I'm OK with a a course focusing on male writers, just as I'm OK with a course which focuses on females writers. "Leading Female Authors of the 18th Century", etc. In an advanced literature course, it can be valuable to select a very narrow subset of authors, themes, styles, etc. I would hate for an introductory course to contain such a limited view.

Gilmore says, "I teach modern short fiction to third and first-year students. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors." I think this is too narrow a sample of authors for such a broad course. But if the course were to be described as "Post World War II short fiction from the two major super-powers of the Cold War, America and Russia", then his selection of authors would certainly be appropriate.

I tried to come up with some ludicrous examples in other disciplines --- Introduction to Biology, with an instructor who doesn't include arachnids because he doesn't like spiders. In a general course, an instructor is harming his students when he fails to include a broad and representative sample. In an advanced or specialized course, it certainly makes sense that the instructor may have very limited or restricted content -- and as long as this is made known to students in advance, that's OK with me.
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Old 09-28-2013, 09:32 PM   #17
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I think that the teacher is cheating their students by focusing only on one select group of authors. Not everyone has the same style of writing and by choosing to focus on only one select group the teacher is presenting a false viewpoint to the students.
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:22 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
I think that the teacher is cheating their students by focusing only on one select group of authors. Not everyone has the same style of writing and by choosing to focus on only one select group the teacher is presenting a false viewpoint to the students.
There are no false viewpoints. They are opinions.
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:36 AM   #19
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It's all a bit of an over-reaction. He said he only teaches the authors he really loves. He didn't say there weren't any good women authors, just not ones he is passionate about. He also said he didn't teach any Canadian authors in his course. Given that the University of Toronto is, arguably, the country's leading university and Alice Munro is, arguably, one of the best writers of short fiction around, he may be doing some disservice to his students. Still, I'm sure she gets coverage in other classes.

His comment about teaching "very serious heterosexual guys" has nothing to do with anti-gay sentiment but is a slightly cheeky response to the interviewer's assessment of the writers he's teaching as can be seen in the unedited transcript:

Gilmour: I’m not interested in teaching books by women. I’ve never found—Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one short story from Virginia Woolf. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would teach only the people that I truly, truly love. And, unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Um. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I try Virginia Woolf, I find she actually doesn’t work. She’s too sophisticated. She’s too sophisticated for even a third-year class. So you’re quite right, and usually at the beginning of the semester 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’m good at is guys.

Keeler: And guys’ guys, too.

Gilmour: Yeah, very serious heterosexual guys. Elmore Leonard. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy guys. That’s a very good observation. Henry Miller. Uh. Philip Roth.


I've only ever read one David Gilmour book and I'm not sure I much cared for it, but it was a long time ago. However, he is something of a media celebrity in Canada and he does get nominated for and sometimes wins serious awards. He's a serious writer. However, that raises the question of whether he has real teaching chops or if putting him on the faculty was about having a celebrity in the role rather than an academic.

Last edited by BadBilly; 09-29-2013 at 04:36 AM. Reason: Boldification (yes, I know it's not really a word)
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Old 09-29-2013, 09:25 AM   #20
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There are no false viewpoints. They are opinions.
I was talking about the teacher's (apparent) viewpoint that the other author's aren't worth his time or his students. Granted there is a strong element of opinion in such.
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:04 PM   #21
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I think it's kind of a storm in a tea cup. Every teacher who is setting up his own course chooses what he wants to focus on in that class - and therefore necessarily excludes other things. <shrug>

As someone said upthread there are courses which teach only women writers, others which teach only Chinese writers, Native American writers, and so on. I see no difference. I do think people need to lighten up a bit.

As far as this teacher thinking other writers aren't worth his time or appreciation, he specifically mentions in that interview the other writers he teaches in other courses. This course is these writers.

Last edited by pendragginp; 10-09-2013 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:37 PM   #22
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I think it's kind of a storm in a tea cup. Every teacher who is setting up his own course chooses what he wants to focus on in that class - and therefore necessarily excludes other things. <shrug>

As someone said upthread there are courses which teach only women writers, others which teach only Chinese writers, Native American writers, and so on. I see no difference. I do think people need to lighten up a bit.

As far as this teacher thinking other writer's aren't worth his time or appreciation, he specifically mentions in that interview the other writers he teaches in other courses. This course is these writers.
Touche. In any event no amount of discussion about it here will change his viewpoint on the actual course. I guess the only real choice anyone would have is 'don't like, don't take the course.'
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