August 12, 2020
Exactly 155 days since the university closed its campus to help flatten the curve against COVID-19, the university has reopened campuses across the state. Alas, it matters little that the coronavirus infections are hitting new records daily, nor that deaths are at about 160K in the US—no! We must risk our lives to study World Literature.
“Are we brave or foolish?” I quipped walking into the lecture hall.
“Maybe a bit of both,” said a random mask in the middle of the room. In this 100-seat room, the students were masked and spread out. The room was as quiet as a church as I put my bag down and fumbled with the new container of Clorox wipes the university had gifted me along with several masks and, for some reason, a whole bundle of paper towels meant for a bathroom dispenser. Having diligently wiped the instructor’s area with one of my freed wipes, I got started.
I had a funny thought as I showed the class my syllabus. It’s absurd that these students—probably about 25—are literally risking their lives to take a class that many of them don’t really see the need for to begin with. I think I chuckled, though the idea remained unexpressed. While I think that the literature we read in this class is very important for their growth and it truly is worth some risk—just not foolish risk.
(I’ve been thinking about this idea lately: you know the whole “children and fools” thing I’ve been threatening to write about for a while. I think I’m almost ready, and the essay should also contain a discussion of the Odyssey book 12, which I have not really written at length about before.)
My introduction went well, and I was even able to talk about the material a bit. I actually regret that this will not be a standard face-to-face course, as I think this group would be a good one. Que Sera Sera.
I left campus almost immediately, but I felt pretty good about the day. Let’s hoping we can repeat it tomorrow.