I met with the last of my portfolio-revision groups on Thursday afternoon, and now that I’ve actually slept and had a chance to reflect on this fall’s classes, I’m pleased with my efforts. I hope I never get so stupid as to claim credit for another human being’s curiosity, but I also hope I never forget that I’ve given the curious ones an occasion to learn from and argue against a couple of really good books. In the course of achieving their three hours of core class credit at the University of Georgia, they came in contact with privative theories of evil (the original Platonic and Boethian ones, not the C.S. Lewis version that gets filtered through youth ministers–not that I have anything against youth ministers), the contradiction (I’m sure G.K. Chesterton would call it a paradox, but it’s a contradiction) of divine foreknowledge and human agency, and a vision of human community other than the neo-liberal Capitalist ideal. They’ve wrestled with what causes the differences between men and women and what the implications of those causes and effects are, and they’ve run headlong into one of history’s most ardent critics of democracy, the system of common government that I imagine they’ve always held as self-evidently superior to all comers. They could quote me Winston Churchill’s bit about democracy being the worst system of government except for all the rest (I think the man spent his life speaking in one-liners) but couldn’t very well tell me why. I know for a fact that some of them have been thinking hard on that one.
In other words, I think this is a semester that did what it was supposed to do, and I feel pretty good about that. Even the folks who didn’t read much and didn’t think much more sat in proximity to folks who did for forty class hours plus some change, and although I’m skeptical about intellectual osmosis, they can’t help but be aware that some of their compatriots think about such questions; perhaps they’ll be inclined to do some more of the same later in life. Next semester I teach my first sophomore course at UGA (I did a lit survey as an adjunct, but this one will actually be in my speciality), and I’m excited about that, and if chips happen to fall well (I wonder whether the famous Jerry every contemplated his last name’s pun), I might be headed to a new place to start a new sort of career. If nothing else, I’ll be primed to hit the job market hard a year from now.
So this morning, as I work the public library and continue to grade papers, I’m feeling pretty good about things. I have years of this good stuff ahead of me, and I’m ready to dig back into the dissertation as I keep trying to get there.