I’ve tallied up the results of the anonymous feedback. I’m pleased to see so much consensus among you on what’s working in the class. I will give a full report when I see you next. In the meantime, please keep in mind the following:
If you do not understand an aspect of what we have read or discussed, it is your responsibility to ask questions until you understand it.
In ENGL/GSWS 352, you have been trained in two different disciplines. Most of you have more training in one discipline than in the other.
You must be willing to give voice to ideas you find obvious as well as questions you find puzzling.
I guarantee there will be people in the room who have never heard of the ideas you consider obvious, and there will be people in the room who can answer the questions you find puzzling.
And if no one can answer a question at the moment you ask it, make certain to pursue it (online, in subsequent classes, with your own research) until you have an answer.
Feminist literary theory is designed to be read by advanced researchers and theorists–graduate students and professors–who are specialists in two different fields: gender studies and literary analysis. It is not designed to be read and instantly apprehended as crystal-clear by nonspecialists or by people who have studied only a part of one of the two fields.
Finally, theory is only one mode of thought. Some of you in this class will find some theoretical texts highly intuitive and easy to grasp, and some of you will find some (or all) theoretical texts extremely opaque and difficult to grasp. Theory is not everyone’s favorite approach to gender studies or to literary studies. Theory is one option among many for approaching those two fields. If you find this difficult, that’s because it is difficult. If you don’t find it difficult, you may be missing something.
Take courage. Have fun. Be brave and self-confident in class. Let no one intimidate you. Use your commonplace book to vent frustration, ask hard questions, doodle, make complicated charts and graphs–use it for anything that helps you learn.
My highest priority is not that you enjoy the class but that you learn in the class. But if at all possible, I want you to have fun too. I am.