Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Teaching Beats in the Bible Belt

Week two of "the students are more conservative than the professor," the Beat Generation edition. After explaining the perennial objections to HOWL that students have had over the years and giving a painstaking disclaimer, I gave students the chance to opt out of the curricular screening of the movie. More than half the class left.
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  • Susan Behrmann I've never seen the movie, didn't know there was one, now I feel like I really need to. What's with kids these days? This makes me proud to be the age I am.
    11 hrs · Unlike · 1
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  • Corey Creekmur I'm not sure you've seen the best minds of their generation ...
    11 hrs · Unlike · 7
  • Donna Riley What was the disclaimer? I bet there's a test in one of their other classes. What would the Beats say about that?
    10 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Andrew William Smith Donna: Oh there is always homework for another class! Here in the Bible belt, some people believe it is their religious freedom to not be exposed to religious views such as Allen Ginsberg's that promote shameless uninhibited bodily human love with exce...See More
    10 hrs · Like · 3
  • Andrew William Smith The sexual frankness in certain parts of the film make certain viewers extremely uncomfortable, so I offered the opt out. I didn't expect so many to leave, honestly, I thought more would be like "ooooh dirty words, I am definitely staying for that."
    10 hrs · Like · 3
  • Donna Riley Well I guess your students won't have trouble understanding why his work was received as it was in its time.... I saw him give a reading at Carnegie Mellon in the 1990s. I remember going really early to get a seat and then very few people showed up. So weird.
    10 hrs · Unlike · 3
  • Robert Myron Ridley This type of material will likely not be well tolerated in this region. There is a very strong consciousness of being careful what we expose our minds to, to avoid what is considered impurity. Your task will be challenging.
    8 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Joshua Paul Smith Sounds more like laziness than conservatism.
    5 hrs · Unlike · 7
  • Megan Trotter Maybe they were just trying to be lazy and opt out of watching a movie in general?
    2 hrs · Unlike · 6
  • Donna Riley Even that hottie James Franco couldn't keep them there.
    2 hrs · Unlike · 3
  • Michael Gilpatrick This hurts my heart and my physic ..... I am trying to help influence/raise three opened minded ( I pray) GrandGirls ..... They wil not be in "higher " Ed for another 5 or 6 six years... I fear for what/who will be there to continue their education and help with their life journey
    2 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Nancy Grace James Franco's greatest performance, in my humble opinion, is his portrait of Ginsberg. The film is well done. I'm not sure I would give them an opt out for this material. I'm sure your syllabus tells them up front what they're getting into, so they c...See More
    1 hr · Unlike · 7
  • Michael Gilpatrick I don't think I know you Ms. Grace but, Bravo. I could not agree more .
    1 hr · Unlike · 1
  • Nancy Grace If you Google me, you'll find a completely different Nancy Grace -- LOL. I'm a friend of Andrews and a Beat scholar, having written on Kerouac, Burroughs, and many of the women of the movement. Love the Beats!
    1 hr · Unlike · 2
  • William Fisk I guess my question is, discussions of the region, etc. aside, why would you want to purposely offend your students' sensibilities? No, I am not in favor of censorship or any of the other things I will probably be accused of here. I am an urban Yankee by birth; I lived during the beat generation; somehow the mystic that some wish to bestow upon it escapes many of my generation today. Just asking.
    42 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Larry Newgent The whole point of higher education is to be exposed to a greater sphere of culture and to absorb viewpoints contradictory to those given us previously and to learn how to process this information coherently. Unfortunately, most students see education ...See More
    39 mins · Unlike · 4
  • Andrew William Smith I have strong pedagogical, literary, and moral reasons for keeping the Beats -- specifically Kerouac and Ginsberg -- in the syllabus, and William Fisk I promise "purposely offending them" is not one of them. But as a religious progressive in a religiou...See More
    30 mins · Like · 1
  • Michael Gilpatrick The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. -- Friedrich Nietzsche
    29 mins · Unlike · 2
  • William Fisk The purpose of education is to 'liberate one from their ignorance,' i.e, 'liberal arts.' It is our job to prepare the student for the multiplistic world beyond the walls of ivy; so by educating them, are we given a mandate to destroy every tenet, every...See More
    26 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Larry Newgent Those who plagiarized their Ginsberg papers should be summarily given failing grades and it should be noted on their permanent records in bold type. Not because of the subject matter, but because the student has revealed that they are dishonest cheats.
    19 mins · Like · 2
  • Troy Smith Holy crap.
  • Andrew William Smith William: I adamantly encourage & defend dialogue & disagreement with the texts that students find problematic. It's by no means an amoral or shock value decision to teach these texts.
    14 mins · Like · 2
  • Donna Riley @William Fisk, how could reading something (or watching a movie about it) "destroy every tenet, every moral or ethical principle they hold?" Poetry can be powerful but I think you are ascribing way too much to Ginsberg here.
    14 mins · Unlike · 3
  • Chuck Sutherland That's... disappointing.
    14 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Troy Smith Last July a man who was my very dear friend and whom I considered a mentor, Jory Sherman, passed away. He was best known for the historical fiction he'd written the past three decades -and which garnered him a Pulitzer nomination -but he started off as a beat poet in San Francisco in the 1950s, editing a literary magazine that was the first to publish Bukowski. He had a lot of great stories to tell.
    11 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Troy Smith By the way, I include a partial reading of "Howl" in my American history survey, so the students in our shared group will get a double dose 
    9 mins · Unlike · 1
  • William Fisk Andy, I am not against dialogue and disagreement. The important question that we as faculty must constantly ask is, "Why am I exposing my students to this? What is the end result?"
    9 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Andrew William Smith Troy -- This is Lit, so I am not using Ginsberg in Writing 2! William -- agreed! I am always asking that!
    8 mins · Like
  • William Fisk Donna Riley: We are what we behold. As for Ginsberg, I agree; we have placed way too much importance on the guy.
    7 mins · Like
  • Andrew William Smith William Fisk--Allen was my teacher, & I learned a lot from him. There's a lot of serious academic writing that investigates his contribution far beyond his personal flamboyance. Tony Trigilio has spoken at Tech about Allen's contribution & written an excellent monograph on Buddhism & Ginsberg.
    4 mins · Like
  • Andrew William Smith
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