Easy (Wo)man

A brief paraphrasing of a famous men writer:

Most of my books are in storage. The books here, this tends to be what I teach. These are, of course, the treasured Margaret Attwood. One of my great joys is not only having read Attwood but read her twice and having listened to the audio CD twice. There’s two versions. One’s really long but I like that, too. I like Oryx and Crake. It’s about human vanity, particularly macho geek hubris. It’s really funny.

These are translations of my own books and here is the Bronte section. Bronte then Austen – what a goddess, the coolest girl in literature. Everyone who ever met her felt they should flit to the provinces with a sharpened quill. She died very young. She was Ill. She had a personality that just shouted look at me, I’m a famous fiction novelist but yet I’m charming – graceful and so gracious. Just like me, really, except I’m still alive so I haven’t made it famous yet. No matter how famous she became – and that was very famous – she never played the rock star. Not like Byron who was a massive Queen fan. She had a feminine, sweet giggle that would set everyone laughing so much that sometimes they would ask her to leave funerals. There were so many funerals in those days. Everyone died.

I got this job six or seven years ago. I’m a natural teacher. I’ve watched television for many years. I know how to talk.

I’m not interested in teaching books by men. Mark Twain is the only writer that interests me as a man so I do teach one of his short stories. But, once again, when I was given this job, I said I would only teach people that I truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happens to be American, or men. Except Mark Twain. And when I tried to teach Mark Twain, he’s too sophisticated, even for a third year course. Usually at the beginning of term a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any men writers in the course. I say I don’t love men writers enough to teach them, if you want men writers go down the hall, go anywhere. What I teach is chicks. Serious, hetero lady writers. Jane Austen, the Brontes, Evelyn Waugh. Real women’s women. Hillary Mantel. Margaret Attwood.

I teach A Handmaid’s Tale to the first year class. They’re shocked out of their knickers. No one teaches it except for me. Sometimes their parents actually question me about it.

There’s an even dirtier one I teach, Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin. I save it till the end of the year so they can understand the difference between pornography and great literature. All my favourite parts are underlined.


Canadian author and part time lecturer David Gilmour claims his comments regarding his refusal to teach women – and Chinese – authors were in jest. Here’s the original blog post and here’s the full transcript; see what you think.

What can safely be said is that not many living writers are deconstructed quite so brutally in quite such a short time period. The University of Toronto has distanced itself from him. His colleagues are furious: “I wouldn’t ordinarily attack a colleague in public over something that colleague said in a non-academic publication. Thankfully, David Gilmour isn’t actually a colleague of mine,” blogs Professor Holger Syme. “David Gilmour is not a professor of literature. He’s someone who teaches a couple of courses on an odd assemblage of texts. David Gilmour does not talk or think like a professor of literature. He doesn’t say the sorts of things professors of literature tend to say. He doesn’t seem interested in the sorts of things professors of literature are interested in.”

The web is humming. Here’s ‘his’ biography of Woolf, for example. Here’s an open letter on misogyny in lit teaching.

This entry was posted in non-fiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s