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« Gentlemen in England | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

September 25, 2013



I love you for saying this-- much better than I could. NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU, students.


When I was in undergrad, "I can relate to X" often seemed to be shorthand for "If X lived now, he/she would resemble me strongly, if not actually be me." Personally, I find people and characters who *aren't* like me to be more interesting -- one reason why as a child I could never get into grim YA novels about ostracized middle-schoolers and their depressing lives. I knew what that was like already, why would I want to read about it more?

Patrick Murtha

Students may be excused for these attitudes to some extent because they are still learning (one hopes). But I truly cannot "relate" to what Professor Gilmour is saying. I am a white homosexual male, and one of the authors I feel closest to is a black heterosexual woman, Zora Neale Hurston. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is one of my very favorite books to teach, and I wish I had the opportunity to do so more often. Can I relate to Hurston along exactly the same lines as, say, Alice Walker can? I surely cannot. But can I still respond to her work in a profound, strong, meaningful way? I believe that I surely can. Both the writing itself, and Valerie Boyd's wonderful account of Hurston's life in "Wrapped in Rainbows," offer me guidance on a continuous basis. I would not wish to "feel...stuff" within such narrow boundaries as Professor Gilmour suggests are apt.

Dame Eleanor Hull

Thank you for this. I love researching and teaching the Middle Ages. Do I want to live then? Emphatically no (let me start with modern dentistry and go on to antibiotics, birth control, and chocolate; I will leave other advantages of the modern world as an exercise for the reader). And I know well that anyone I research would probably be baffled and hostile if they met me. Nonetheless, the medieval period and its literature caught my imagination long ago and continue to hold it.

I was teaching The Tempest to some freshmen. A few of them complained that they couldn't "relate" to the play.
Vladimir Nabokov said that is someone identified with the characters in a book they'd better be careful about which books they read. The same applies to those who relate to books.

Yes. The difference, the non-relatability, or non-easy relatability, that is what is of interest.


David Gilmour describes himself as a narrow minded bigot. It's no surprise that he's a misogynist. He probably can't even deal with people whose last names start with the latter 13 letters of the alphabet.

(P.S. How anyone could not relate to The Tempest is beyond me. I always think of it as Shakespeare's Twilight Zone episode, but that's just me.)

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