Thursday, January 25, 2007

So I talk to myself. So what?

Having a rich inner life, I also have rollicking inner dialogues. I’d been wondering just what kind of announcements I can comfortably make in my classes, and initially was shying away from promoting Al Gore and David Suzuki's keynote address at the upcoming Summit on Climate Change. For some reason I thought it was slightly wrong of me to promote my own political views to a captive audience. And then I laughed (aloud, actually, thus destroying the inner quality of this dialogue) at my presumption that I check my politics at the classroom door. Leaving aside my contention that the popular is always political, I'm always encouraging my students to politicize their cultural consumption. To think about hardboiled detective fiction as a form of protest and to see feminist detective fiction as a significant incursion into masculinist populism; to question the implicit assumptions about the nation-state that pervade nationalist rhetoric of broadcasting policies and to dismantle the seeming benevolence of multiculturalism as an ideal (try Eva Mackey’s House of Difference – fantastic). The notion that the critical imperative of my courses is distant from my own politics simply because I've assigned readings to explain these positions is, well, laughable. My students have multiple occasions to engage with or argue against the perspectives I present – in classroom debates, their response papers, their essays, their weekly seminars. I've learned very quickly just how adept they are at articulating dissenting points, or appreciating these arguments on different grounds. All the more reason for me to promote Gore and Suzuki’s talk – to expand the places and ways in which climate change is discussed. I think I might be one of those darned leftist academics. But hey, my teaching was praised as “fresh and entertaining” at an award ceremony this week, so I must be doing something right.


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