I taught The Dead last week, in my WLIT class, the last two class sessions before Spring break began (oh YAY Spring Break, can I add?).
My students always resist Joyce, which puzzles me. I could understand resisting Joyce if I made them read Finnegan's Wake or the more annoying bits of Ulysses (Uselesslys, I like to call it) but Dubliners, the stories from it, well, they're lovely, and no denying it.
And the Dead is as near to perfect a bit of fiction as you'll want to read.
Anyway, once I have convinced them of that, which generally doesn't take more than ten or fifteen minutes, they warm up to the story. (I just have to show them how the story is working -- they come in insisting the story isn't "about" anything, how "nothing" is happening: I take ten minutes and show them everything that's actually in the story, and once they get their teeth back together, they're in love with the story: very nearly every time.)
But: this time, and it's this class, I swear -- "I just don't like this Miss Ivors," one of the women objected.
It really could have been nearly any of the women.
"Oh?" I said. I had been half expecting it. I have been getting this from this class through the semester. "Why is that?"
As if I did not know.
"Well, she's just not very...respectful to Gabriel."
Nor they ain't kidding, either, my women students.
One of them commented, in her midterm essay, that while she was all for feminism, women needed to remember that men are the superior sex -- God did create them that way, after all.
Rude of women to talk back and correct men, you know. Act like we're equals or that.
I have assigned Woolf's Room of One's Own for after the break. As I sent them out to go read it I asked, idly, if any of them noticed how many works we had read, so far this semester, by women?
They gazed at me, puzzled.
"Oh, yes," I said. "This will be the first, won't it?"
They kept frowning.
"Wonder why that is?" I said, and waved them good-bye.