I got home from Broken Arrow a few hours ago. The NSU Living Literature workshop was fun. I got there just in time to watch 28 Days with them yesterday. It was only the second time I’d seen that one. It was better than I remembered. Not that I didn’t like it the first time … it just wasn’t memorable. Then there was discussion about what films are appropriate to show in the high school classroom. No surprise, it was generally accepted that 28 Days would not make the cut. Some said the violence would be fine, that it would be the tallywhacker shots that wouldn’t be permitted. That generated more discussion.
I went on after that discussion. I’m not sure how many people were there … at least three dozen, I would think. Being in front of a class of high schoolers every day has helped me become a better speaker, but I was still nervous. I mean, these people actually know something about literature and forms of criticism and several of them were also writers. I think I did okay. People laughed where I hoped they would, they asked questions afterward and a few came to chat when the seminar broke for the day. Nobody threw anything, so that was good. Oh, I gave my “Dead Babies Count” speech, with a few modifications for an audience of people mostly interested in teaching horror to high school kids. I was able to relate some of my experience teaching my science fiction class, what’s allowed, what’s worked, what the kids hated.

The best part of the seminar was finally meeting Gregg

 Winkler in person. Helluva nice guy! He gave a very good presentation today about morality in recent slasher films. He set up the whole room and trapped us into saying Hannibal Lector, Jigsaw and John Doe (from Se7en) were good guys. Very sneaky, and he made a good point about the morality of those killers and how audiences view them.

I met several nice people, including Dr. Chris Malone, the program director. I think that’s his title. Lots of interesting people and a lot of interesting conversation. I learned quite a bit about how other people teach.

I need to find out what version of Nosferatu Dr. Malone showed this morning. Mine is completely silent. The one he showed had a beautiful musical score that really enhanced the movie. Oh, and then a young English major read a paper about the history of vampirism. It was a good paper and she read it well despite being pretty nervous.

It was fun being back around university types. On the one hand, it was nice lecturing to people who actually wanted to hear what I had to say. And they had feedback and comments that amounted to more than, “This is so gay” or “Can we watch TV now?” or “Why do we have to doooo this?” Or my personal favorite, “If you make me watch a black-and-white movie I’m going to sleep.” But I digress. One thing about academics is that they often over analyze stuff. A story is never just a story to an English professor. I wonder what Mary Shelley would have to say to some of the analysis that’s been done to her most famous novel.

Anyway, it was fun. And now I have a magazine article to write about a young race care driver.

2 responses to “Academia”

  1. I used to get in trouble in my graduate English classes for suggesting that perhaps the story isn’t “an existential search for (fill in the blank).” I also got in trouble for quoting what I think was Freud. “Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar.” I did some research on symbolism by talking to professional writers. Most of them told me that they didn’t usually actively write symbolism in their work. One said. however, that he’d throw in something occasionally just to puzzle the critics.

  2. Steve, it was a real pleasure to meet you in person, too! With so much television coverage these days, I’m glad that our internet-to-real-life meeting didn’t end up with Stone Phillips telling us we were on Dateline…
    That would have been awkward.
    But seriously, it was great to meet you! I’m glad you had a good time; I know the students were glad you were there. Maybe we can do it again sometime…

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