From the slopes of Mt. Grademore to the Groves of Academe

Continuing tales from Mt. Grademore:


November 22, 2010

Best student slip from today's Mt. Grademore?
Agamemnon was blind to his fat, and was only truly able to see his flaws in death.

Best response from a friend to my exclamations over the brilliant Freudianism of this slip?
Well, I don't think they had very good mirrors back then.

December 1, 2010

My Metatheatre class ended with an extra credit viewing of the brilliant Slings and Arrows (if you haven't seen it, go get your hands on it RIGHT NOW).  My students' response?
Students:     That was better than it had any right to be.
I:     What do you mean?
Students:     Well, I mean: it's Canadian.  And old.

Let's be clear: we're talking about a 2003 show here.  I can feel myself getting desiccated and crotchety even as I listen to them.

I:     Come on.  It's not that old.
Students:     Please.  Did you see those cell phones?  They weren't Will Smith Fresh Prince big, but they were pretty big.
I: [defensively]      OK, well: it's not that old.  But it is Canadian.  Does anything strike you as quintessentially Canadian about the theatricalism here?  Anything that reflects the particular status of theatre in Canada?
     [The air between us fills with the awkward awareness of our generational and national differences.]
Students:      Um, I don't think people our age really think there is a difference between Canadian and American theatre.

And with that cheering assertion of ahistorical universalism, the term drew to a close.


December 3, 2010

Today's gem mined from Mt. Grademore (from a quiz on Racine's Ph├Ędre):
I am not always in agreeance when people say something is phallic, but, ooh boy, is this phallic.  There is quite obviously a sexual subtext, but I think she'd find being stabbed a lot less satisfying than her rather breathy words make it seem.

Let's hear what Phaedra has to say for herself, shall we?
Here is my heart.  Your blade must pierce me there.
In haste to expiate its wicked lust
My heart already leaps to meet your thrust.

(When my students performed this scene on extra credit performance day, Hippolytus couldn't stop blushing and grinning.  And Phaedra couldn't help but put a, well, textually rich emphasis on the lines, "If you'll not stain your hand with my abhorred / and tainted blood, lend me at least your sword," accompanying the final words with an ambiguous hand gesture.)

The student was rightfully struck by this scene.  A week later, on his exam, he said this while defining the neoclassical concept of "decorum" (a type of propriety that governs the behavior - amorous and otherwise - of characters based on their class, gender, age, and profession):
Phaedra never actually does anything to Hippolytus sexually, but she eyes his sword more than the average passerby.


December 7, 2010

One of my students just sent me an email that ended with an order:
Marry Christmas!
Wow, I thought, I think I'll decline.  Based on about four different political principles.