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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Last Day, First Day

Last day of my first teaching intensive today at Berkeley. The second intensive on the rhetoric of interpretation (which does double duty as a survey of critical theory emphasizing variations on the fetish as code-key) begins next week more or less on the same schedule the first one did, in the same lecture hall even. Today I'm lecturing on the stunning Petronius and the stunted Libenius, but chances are my students won't have read either of them, nor be particularly pleased to hear about either of them either, as they drag themselves to class after pulling all-nighters in their oven-hot domiciles finishing their final papers and scrambling to construct in a few hours' time reader notebooks that were meant to document their ongoing engagements with rich and alien Greek and Roman texts over six weeks and which are also due today. Even now roughly a quarter of them are weighing whether the hours between now and the beginning of class would be better devoted to a mad scramble of dodgy productivity or to efforts to get their stories straight for a post-lecture plea for an extension of a day or so. They have this really great idea, you see, but they got caught up in the complexity of the text, and they would really like an extra night to do justice to the idea, the class has been such an eye-opener to them, they want to produce something worthy of it, not just something thrown together, they want to get it right, it will only take a day, you know? For all my complaints, though, when it comes down to it there will be lots of marvelous work on these marvelous works and teaching rhetorical theory and history remains a weird and rather wonderful way to make a living.

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