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New Semester

August 27, 2007

Faculty workshops are behind us, and there are but two days before the semester starts. I’m still tweaking the syllabus for my Brit Lit survey (if “tweaking” involves throwing out an entire Shakespeare play and replacing it with another Shakespeare play), but otherwise think I’m ready. Some photocopying today, a meeting with an advisee, and then I’ll man the registration table tomorrow for two hours. Then classes on Wednesday.

I enjoy the beginning of semesters. I love what I do, and there’s an electricity that feeds the first week or so of a new semester. I haven’t taught Brit Lit I since 2005; it’ll be nice to spend time with Chaucer and Shakespeare again. I’m teaching two Shakespeare plays this time: Twelfth Night and Hamlet. This is one more than usual, and I had to sacrifice Marlowe to do it, but it seemed right. He’s the most important writer in English–he should get more time than the other guys. Plus, I mean, Hamlet.

I’m listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” as I type this. Possibly the finest vocal performance ever recorded. I never get tired of Ella. Today’s been slowish jazz day–Diana Krall, Ella, and most likely Kind of Blue coming up later.

I finished David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, and second my half-done endorsement of a few weeks ago. Funny, heartbreaking, real, and brilliant. I’m looking forward to reading Mitchell’s other novels (two of which were shortlisted for the Booker). Right now, though, I’m reading Roy Porter’s Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine, which I thoroughly enjoying in a sick sort of way. And Harold Bloom’s Hamlet: Poem Unlimited is in the batter’s circle. I’ll most likely be starting the second half of Don Quixote on audio file this week as well–my goal is to finish that novel before Christmas. It’s amazing, of course, but so damn long! And finally, I’m reading China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun out loud to Gwyn and Watership Down out loud to Ian. I’ll write about Mieville’s book when we’re done–it’s really impressive so far, better than his adult novels (which are nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re allergic to dark alternative world parables).

Soon I’ll post some stuff about London, which I’ve promised but not delivered on, and some video from our gig at the public library last week.

I have a chapter and a half left on the London book, and some revisions to the preface. Six weeks left…and I’m starting on Carmilla next week as well. It’s fun to be busy, sometimes.

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