Monday, April 27, 2009

Her Suggestion

(In which I would like to thank one of my college professors.)


Susan gave me the still unfinished but edited form of her essay last Friday. Yes, it was still unfinished but she has a clearer view of what she wants to write. However, the problem now is how she’ll write it. It’s clear that she has so ma good ideas in her mind but she has some difficulty bridging the distance between the thought and word. We spent many minutes from our two-hour class decoding messages from ambiguously written sentences as I have understood, or seemed to understood, what she meant, I wrote my own sentences I replace of the vague ones, asking if whether they matched their ideas or not. She looked at my sentences as if there’s something wrong with them.

“Hmmm… Did you study creative writing?” she asked.

That, I believe, was a compliment – a subtle one. That was the first time I heard that kind of remark after one of my English professors and my editor-in-chief gave their comments about my work, two or three years ago.

“No. Well, not intensively.”

She sat up straight and pondered for a moment then looked at me it was as though she was trying to tell something yet afraid she might say it the wrong way. Then as soon she seemed to have gathered her thoughts and sure of her words, she spoke, “What do you do in the university?” which, in my opinion, didn’t sound like neither well-thought nor a well-constructed question. She might have felt nervous. She rephrased her question.

“I mean, what do you… study? Like, in your major?”

I got it

“We studied history and English, of course, particularly, literature. We also studied how to criticize literature. We were taught how to understand and analyze the text using different approaches.”
He eyes rounded with amazement and her mouth showed an expression of something in between surprise and disbelief. “Really, you did that?”


“Wow! I think that’s interesting I have always thought that there are many approaches to understand a story or a novel. Can we study that?”

I don’t know whether I should be happy or worried. I’m happy that she finds me “knowledgeable” enough to teach her that stuff yet worried on how to simplify that very complex course. Well, at least we have something to study now. So I gave her four of the many approaches in literary criticism: feminism, Marxism, reader’s response and psychoanalysis. She was so interested that she made it hard for me to resist the temptation of talking about Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, yet I was able to. I just told her that I’ll be preparing the syllabus this weekend.

“By the way, how long are you planning to have a class with me.”

“Hmmm… Less than a month, I think.”

Okay. Two weeks at least. That’ll be just fine. Besides, I don’t want her, and myself, to cull our brains with literary criticism.

When I started making the syllabus last weekend, I was happy to find the course outline made by my Literary Criticism professor together with the other handouts about the different approaches in my files of old documents from college. Perfect!