Monday, January 29, 2007

More Notes on My Life at Duke

Note One: My four-month teaching appointment here has a wonderful bonus. My office building is a mere 82 steps from the front door of the main library. In this building alone (pictured at dusk when I'm heading home) there are 3.4 million books. It feels at least as big as cyberspace. And the medical school library is only ten minutes walk. All of which is pretty handy, since I'm doing research on my biography.

The locked stacks on the history of medicine have given me quite an insight into what my subject's life must have been like during her three years in a mental hospital starting in 1917. I feel very wealthy having all this material so close at hand.

Note Two: I love public speaking, and almost always feel relaxed doing it. Uncommonly relaxed, in fact. I feel the only obligation I have, in most cases, is to be mildly entertaining.

With teaching, however, I've always felt that it's my duty to get across what I'm supposed to be teaching; the students are supposed to know how to write a pretty passable short story by the end of April.

The weight of this responsibility often makes me try too hard. I'm overly careful about how I say things in class. My speech, when I'm presenting an idea, gets all halting and tentative, which I hate. Must do something about this.

Note 3: I haven't heard any mention on campus of the infamous sexual assault accusations against three lacrosse players or of the prosecutor who is now under investigation. The subject is in the newspaper, of course. But I've heard no buzz at all in the buses, halls, or on the quads. It's a relief to me. I graduated from this school; I love it; I don't want it reduced to this court case, whoever is right or wrong in the matter.

And should you be longing for my opinion, based on nothing but the newspapers and local off-campus gossip-- I think these guys are innocent of sexual assault. However, a party that features low-income women of color stripping is a shameful misuse of privilege.


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Peggy said...

Do come visit some more, Frank. Thanks for your kind words. Are you a writer? artist?