The bookternet is a-buzz with righteous indignation about this piece from David Gilmour, an author and professor at the University of Toronto who claims he doesn’t teach books by women, or works by Canadians (or by Chinese authors because stuff that starts with ‘C’ is tainted by OTHER). He only loves and teaches “serious heterosexual guys” like Marcel Proust (a serious homosexual) and “real guy-guys” like F. Scott Fitzgerald (the dandiest of dandies).*
I know the academic/readerly world will produce several reasoned responses** about how this professor is a shameful, intellectually lazy blot on the name of English studies (seriously, if you’re a middle-aged white male who only reads and teaches middle-aged white males, what thoughts can you possibly have that are of any interest to anyone but yourself and other xenophobic sexists that weren’t already said in 1930 or thereabouts). So, I’m just gonna get gleeful here and GIF. That. Shit. Let’s do it:
I’ve just moved, so my library at home is unfortunately in storage. A thousand, maybe twelve hundred books are in storage. The books here, this tends to be what I teach. These are, of course, the treasured Proust, one of my great joys is not only having read Proust but having read him twice, and having listened to the audio CD twice.
These are some translations of my books, and here is the Tolstoy section. Tolstoy, then Chekhov. I would say the three big hits here are Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Proust, probably. Because as you can see, there’s Tolstoy all over the place.
You have to have a doctorate to teach here, but they asked if I would teach a course, and I said I would. I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing.
I teach modern short fiction to third and first-year students. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors. Not much on the Canadian front. But I can only teach stuff I love. I can’t teach stuff that I don’t, and I haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach.
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.
Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.
There’s an even dirtier one that I teach, by Philip Roth, called The Dying Animal. Roth has the best understanding of middle-aged sexuality I’ve ever come across. Now where’s my copy? I took it home to read it again, and I think I might have packed it up and stuck it away in storage. That’s going to be a problem, because all my favourite parts are underlined.
I teach only the best.
*Gilmour has issued an “apology” interview, where he basically says all the same stuff about not liking lady writers all over again and blames everything on his interviewer who was “trying to make a little name for herself,” so. Here ya go if you’re interested.
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