Thursday, October 19, 2006

Freudian Slip of the Day, Week, Month, Year

Scene: My British Literature survey class. I'm having the class go around the room reading Satan's elegaic speech to the fallen angels on the lake ("Fairwell happy fields / Where joy forever dwells! Hail horrors, hail / Infernal world").

One of my students, perhaps going a bit too fast reads this:

"And thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy New Professor, one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time!"

The poor kid was pretty embarassed. But after I assured him that as a New Professor I wasn't the least offended, was really quite flattered, he seemed to relax.

It was hard to keep a straight face. It's nice to know I'm on their minds, even if it is in connection with hell.

I kept comparing Charles I to George W. Bush in class today, though not in so many words. I said "Here is a ruler who wants to make his own rules, who ignores the views of Parliament when they disagree with him. Here is someone whose power is out of control." I couldn't tell if more than two of them noticed.


Florestan said...

Oh dear: I think this is grossly unfair to Charles Stuart. Yes, he may have had a weakness for long leather boots, and for starting wars he could not finish, but can you ever imagine George W. taking a gay man as his best friend, or patronising artists of the calibre of Rubens and Van Dyck?

muse said...

I think you just outed yourself as a cavalier!

But seriously, folks . . .

One simply cannot teach Milton to a majority of devout Christian students without putting it in its larger political context. And that means talking about rulers gone out of control.

These are my freshmen English survey students, remember. Not necessarily capable of holding two contradictory ideas in their heads at once while attempting to read a long and difficult poem.

muse said...

PS Point well taken: There's nothing wrong with a weakness for long leather boots!