Thursday, August 31, 2006

Won't Somebody Please come to my Office Hours?

Office Hours. I've begun to loathe them. I hold them at the end of a long day of teaching, and today they are at the end of a long week of teaching. I sit in my office at the end of a long hall.

And no one ever comes. Except the week before papers are due or the week after they have been handed back. Then they all come and camp out in the hallway.

I don't know how people do this. I just can't keep still sitting in one chair for that amount of time. Next week I'll bring work and try to get some of my own writing done, but for that I like to get up every 15 minutes, swing my arms and pace around the house. How anyone as fidgety as me got into academia is a source of bewilderment.

I've got about an hour and fifteen minutes left before I can go home. I'm sitting here doing teaching prep for my upper level seminar in Renaissance poetry, looking out at the rain (today's forecast on NPR was that we would have a 100% chance of rain).

I'm preparing to teach Shakespeare's sonnets. I know the students will want to know about the biographical controversy, especially since this is coming on the heels of Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, a sonnet sequence that does have a fair amount of contemporary biographical information on display. Was Shakespeare gay, straight, bisexual? Who was Mr. W.H., and who was the dark lady? What happened to make the speaker change beloveds 3/4 of the way through? I'll try not to spend too much time on those mysteries. I'm tempted to use Stephen Booth's terse answer, though it kind of takes all the fun out of the mystery:

"HOMOSEXUALITY: William Shakespeare was almost certainly homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. The Sonnets provide no evidence on the matter."

Ha! So much for that. Now we'll have to focus on the materiality of the text. No Anthony Burgess or Stephen Greenblatt for you.

Is Burgess' book even in print any more? I remember I had to check it out of the library in order to read it when I was 17. I wonder if I'd still like it. Maybe I should teach a literary historical novel course and assign it.


Diogenes Teufelsdröckh said...

1. Shakespeare was gay.
2. Office hours are gay.
3. Academia is like so totally gay.

muse said...

Yeah, and Carlyle wasn't?

Jonathan said...

How many office hours do you have to keep down there?

Flavia said...

Change your office hours--make them between classes, or before classes, or otherwise at some point when you're likely to be in the office anyway.

None of your students will care, but if you announce it in class and/or via email, at least you've done your duty.

muse said...

Good idea, Flavia. Only trouble is that before classes would have to be 7am, and between classes would kill my lunch hour. But I guess that's better than after classes, though.

I have to have 3-4 office hours per week. Ugh.