Make Mine Vanilla

Make Mine Vanilla

One of the bigger challenges in teaching from authors as well known and admired (or vilified) as Fitzgerald and Hemingway is the problem of choice: How to decide what students “need” to know/learn/appreciate is quite problematical a pain because of the enormous volume of work done, not just before we started teaching, but likely before we were that proverbial glint in our parents’ eyes.

I believe that I would do best, at least at first, to teach in an institution or department that has a rather rigid curriculum; my artistic license can find expression in how I present the material and possibly with additional work that fits in well. I just don’t do so well with near-infinite possibilities; I become bogged down and unproductive.

So someone else’s determination that Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” would be useful to teach on the vagaries of his writing, or his take on women, or war, or American Mid-West society would all be fine with me. And I’m sure I’d find something in this person’s choices to complain about—I can always do it better once I’m in the trenches (so to speak).

An alternative to this structure might be to have a close mentor who had been through much or all of what I was facing; but I’ve had my fill of new faculty “whine and cheese” parties (not at this fine institution—I’ve not taught classes here).

All this is to say that I’m having a hell of a time figuring out what to teach about tomorrow in my lead on the above-mentioned work; the more I read, in the story itself and in criticism and lesson plans, the less able I feel to deal with the material.

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