what I got out of last week

  • A new model of generational differences in my dept. Forget theoretical modes, or graduate mentors. Here's the distinction that really matters. When searching in the online registration system for information about next year's courses (like time, day, room number) there are those faculty members who see a link around their section number and know (or try) to click on it to get the screenful of detailed info. And then there are those who prefer to send off five emails to two secretaries, one faculty administrator (me!), the chair, and an assistant dean. (And then, of course, there are those who don't even use computers, but we've whittled that list down to just a mere handful and are waiting for retirements to thin their ranks).
  • A theory about contemporary film and cultural anxieties about the war in Iraq, based entirely on the previews I've seen for recent movies. I think it holds up but I haven't actually watched any of the texts I'd use as evidence. (But considering that I once had dinner with an Eminent Critic who confessed to only having read the epigraphs to Moby Dick -- a novel he teaches regularly -- I don't feel so bad.)
  • New respect from my students because I calmed a yelping student by scooping up a spider in my hands and taking it outside. Who knew it would be so easy to make them applaud?