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UD will be in the wilds of …

… West Virginia for Thanksgiving. Blogging continues through her mountain trek.


If you ask UD what she’s thankful for, she’ll tell you right out pretty much everything.

But let’s go with the most recent thing for which she’s grateful. Let’s cast a cold eye over the last twenty-four hours…

OK. She’s grateful for the Joyce Boys.

Her James Joyce seminar, this semester, is all-male. Twelve bristly intense sensitive amused males gather twice a week very late in the afternoon (by the end of our session, K Street’s gone dark) on the ground level of an office building GW uses for classes.

We meet in a windowless room. It’s never bright enough in there. I’m always playing with the lights, trying to make it brighter, even though by now, the end of the semester, I’m aware I’m not going to succeed.

The room is heavily trafficked by the PowerPoint brigade, so UD‘s first business before she begins teaching involves rolling up screens, pushing speakers to the side, wheeling computer stands out of the way… Black machines with randomly blinking red lights on their faces and tangles of cords streaming out of their asses surround UD as she speaks.


Do you realize how odd an all-male literature course is?

In this corner, a dozen Blazes Boylans, bursting with youthful virility.

In that corner, the Unsinkable Molly Bloom. Plus twenty years.


I’m thankful because my teaching life offers me odd scenarios like this one, in which I lecture to smiling young men not only about the humanity of Bloom, and how it wakens the soul of Dedalus, but also about how in the Ithaca chapter they have a pissing contest.

Ulysses is full of pissing and farting and shitting and playing with yourself, and Scathing Online Schoolmarm gets to describe it all to the guys, who guffaw.

UD/SOS, the one female in a room of males, gets to be the gross one.

Margaret Soltan, November 24, 2010 8:07AM
Posted in: how to make ud happy

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10 Responses to “UD will be in the wilds of …”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    For non-stop guffawing, nothing beats teaching the Miller’s Tale to a class which is half football players. . .

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Anonymous: LOL.

  3. Erin O'Connor Says:

    Shamela also offers some rich moments.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    I taught that once, years ago, Erin, and you’re right. I actually remember that class.

  5. Mark Says:

    You have made my day! Love it!

  6. david foster Says:

    Just re-watched “Renaissance Man,” in which the Danny DeVito character is a failed advertising man who can only find one job: instructor to a group of failed soldiers, he representing their last chance before they are thrown out of the Army for general cluelessness. He decides to teach them Hamlet…

  7. Tony Says:

    The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel is always a romp, as long as the English professor doesn’t mind teaching things in translation.

  8. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mark: My pleasure.

    david: I always meant to see that film. Thanks for the reminder.

    Tony: Right you are.

  9. theprofessor Says:

    The probability of getting an all-male humanities class here is close to zero. I am sure that I have never even had a class in which men outnumbered women in the last fifteen years.

    Keep up the good work, UD.

  10. DM Says:

    Once I passed a classroom at École normale supérieure in Paris, and was surprised to see lambda-calculus terms being drawn on the chalkboard in front of a mostly female class.

    Lambda-calculus is computer science, or at least mathematical logic. It is taught in theoretical computer science, or possibly in mathematics or philosophy to those studying logics. These classes tend to have few females.

    I later found a plausible reason: it’s used for linguistics, as a notation for “binding constructs”.

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