Choose 7 of my interests for me to write about. If you want to play along, comment; I'll pick 7 of your interests for you to write about, you post with these instructions in your LJ to keep spreading the fun.
And here's what airgedeach had to ask about:
I used to teach college-level English comp. I think when I made the decision to teach at the college level, I might have been having grand visions in my head of being an awesome and inspiring teacher, enough to make my students stand on their desks and call out "O Captain, my captain!"
Then I actually got in front of a classroom.
I think a lot of my criticism of American public high schools comes out of my experience of teaching the kids who just graduated from them. English in general has a bit of a reputation of being a fluff major, whether it's literature ("All you do in this class is read books? Easy A!") or composition ("Piece of cake, I already speak English! Easy A!") The way I ran my classes, however, I tended to concentrate very, very hard on what I think the students considered boring irrelevancies -- asking questions like, for example, "What are you trying to say in this part of the paper, and how does it connect to the rest of the paper?"
My course evaluations were full of comments saying that my class was too hard, that I asked too many questions, that I was a hard grader. This explains why I am no longer teaching. So, what I felt was just pushing students to go deeper than their surface meanings, to dive into the whys and wherefores of what they read and wrote... well, my students saw it as antagonism. Hence, "antagonizing undergraduates."
ayn rand sucks
Leaving aside the issue of her political opinions (which, and here's a big shocker, I don't particularly agree with, but that's a whole other issue entirely), I have to say this: I picked up The Fountainhead when I was in 8th grade -- a time, I'm assured, when most kids who are long on book-smarts but not so much with the social dexterity pick up Ayn Rand books, read them, and have their "Eureka!" moment that affects their outlooks on the world for the rest of their lives.
I read it, and I found it the most god-awfully boring book I'd ever read in my life. Considering I was only in 8th grade, I didn't know the concept of "Authorial Axe-Grinding" too well, but even I could realize that the book's climax (in which the hero is put on trial and, speaking in his own defense, gives what's basically a lecture on the history of Western Civilization) was... if not exactly cheating, then certainly unfamiliar and off-putting to me.
(My friends, of course, who were all as smart and socially awkward as me, read all the other books in the Rand oeuvre and loved them. It goes to show you never can tell. Also, authorial axe-grinding goes down a lot more smoothly when the author comes out and says "This is my own opinion," rather than putting words in characters' mouths.)
And honestly, who doesn't like pretty, pretty boys? (For the record, my current favorite bishounen are Allen Schezar and Dryden Fassa from The Vision of Escaflowne, Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy VII, and Tougaa from Revolutionary Girl Utena.
The Gentleman Bastards series of novels by Scott Lynch, beginning with The Lies of Locke Lamora. In which the titular character (a charming and dextrous thief who is also a master of disguise, set in a Renaissance-esque fantasy world) runs elaborate con games on people with more money than sense ... only things don't always go as planned. Richly detailed and full of action, and I cannot do them any amount of justice in my description.
incredibly strange films
I do enjoy a lot of films that other people would find...somewhat off. This applies not only to feature-length stuff, but shorter pieces as well. (I used to watch Liquid Television somewhat religiously when it was on.) In some cases, one could argue that this might include classroom / educational films, which are a hobby of mine and a former area of study for me.
Unfortunately, I can't say as I have any favorite films or directors of this kind; I don't think I've thought that much in-depth about it.
Put simply, I think people shouldn't be discriminated against, or laughed at, because they're too fat or too skinny. On the Internet, I realize this seems to make me a bit of a minority. Nevertheless, it's an issue that's important to me, particularly in the political ways in which peoples' size and/or weight intersect with society at large.
Often times, you'll hear people saying things like "Fat people are the only people it's okay to still make fun of!", which I think is a way in to start asking questions like "why is it so important to make fun of anyone in the first place?" and other unsettling questions as well. But that's a matter for another day.
My English degrees are concentrated in 19th-Century American literature, so I have an interest in the United States (and, to a lesser degree, Europe) from about 1820 to the 1880s or so. In Britain, of course, this was the time of the full flowering of what we call the Victorian Age, and I think it existed in some cases just as much in the U.S. as it did in Britain. It's a time period that fascinates me, because I'm always interested in seeing what happens when noble lofty ideals run smack-on into the real world, to see what happens to a society when it demands that the world change itself to suit the society's expectation. (I like drawing parallels between the Victorian Age in Britain and the 1950's in the U.S., too.)
Plus, I also enjoy some of the Victorian fashions they had; interestingly, some of it seems to be coming back now, with the whole Gothic Lolita thing.