Friday, August 19, 2005

Do you know what it means to miss MIT?

I heard Harry Connick Jr.'s song "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" on the radio the other morning, and it's been running through my head all day, except with the word substitution you see above.

Yes, MIT -- not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, home to the Reverend Chomsky, but Western's media studies program in Media, Information and Technoculture. I had the great good fortune to teach there while at Western, and it proved to be a formative, rewarding and occasionally joyful experience. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, I was given the opportunity to design courses from the ground up that incorporated literature, film, television, media ... I taught a course on conspiracy theory twice, one on alternative realities, and one on cynicism and apathy (I think this last one was a bit of a failed experiment, but a valuable learning experience nonetheless -- for me, and I hope for at least some of the students). I taught courses that ran the gamut from William S. Burroughs to David Cronenberg to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But the best thing about MIT? The students.

Yup. If there's one thing that gets up my nose in the classroom, it's apathy and disengagement from the subject matter on the part of the students ... which was why the interest, enthusiasm, intelligence, audacity and sheer intellectual balls demonstrated by many of those who passed through my MIT classes was like cold beer on a hot patio (to use an analogy amenable to said students). Since becoming an active member of the blogosphere, I've discovered that many of my former students are taking over cyberspace -- you will notice that the blogs to which I'm linking now include a category dedicated just to them. What I love is the almost painful nostalgia it gives me -- all of them written in frank, incisive and often eloquent prose that I well remember from essays graded.

If I'm sounding sentimental here ... well, I am. It is gratifying as an educator to see former students doing well (speaking of which, congrats on the job there E-Diddy). Also, as I will never be in a position to teach you guys again, I can be sappy without it damaging whatever shreds of classroom authority I might have had left (oh, stop laughing).

And so here I continue my ongoing series of people I miss with a collective shout out to all those amazing MIT students who give me hope for the current crop of UWO grads: Alex, Jason, Justin M, Justin P (aka J.Po, aka Max Power), Gah-Yee, Michelle, Paige, Andrew, Noreen, Ashley, Poolie, David, Sarah, Joyce, Meghan, Stephen B., Stephanie, Brian, Avik, Angel, Graham ... and of course Sylvia, who never actually was a student of mine but would have been if Memorial hadn't so inconveniently offered me a job. Sorry about that.

I'm leaving a lot of people out, for which I'm sorry ... but as the Bard said, the age is in, the wit is out (let me know if I've forgotten -- I can edit!) . And send me blogs I can post to.

Anyway, this is my tribute -- thanks for suffering through my classes, and for probably teaching me at least as much as I taught you. Cheers.


syl said...

I have to apologize. You mention students who write in eloquent prose. Unfortunately, as you probably have realized by now, I do NOT write my blog in such a manner. I apologize for the horrific grammar, use of language and occassional typos that I carelessly leave. I, for one, am not one of those students you can be proud of :(

But that post was really nice...and just as you miss MIT...MIT misses you....muchos.

Chris in NF said...

Ah, Syl ... not all eloquence falls under the rules of perfect grammar. And as far as imperfect prose in blogging goes -- well, let's just say I'm happy no one has seen fit (yet) to point out my own writing mishaps on this site.

I would have liked to have had you as a student. please be certain to give Selma a hard time.

syl said...

Perhaps no one has pointed out any of your writing mishaps because it seems taboo to correct an english professor. :)

Chris in NF said...

yes, everyone does know the karmic retribution that is unleashed on those who challenge the wisdom of English professors ... we are, after all, slightly more powerful than the Pope and Oprah combined ...

Paige said...

Hi Chris/Prof Lockett... I was so sad when I heard from Alex that you weren't returning to Western in the fall! Ahh but Eano directed me to your blog and I'm enjoying it, and thanks for the mention. Newfoundland is lucky to have you :)

alex said...

suffering! ha!

chris, your classes were my favourite ones. and you know i'm not just saying that. western misses you just as much as you miss us, trust me!


mr. tomas ubik said...

wait a second, failed experiment. Alternative realities was a hoot....where else can one justifiably compare without persecution the effects on the human psyche from organized religion to heroin.

Haha, Burroughs needs a vatican of his own.

Fauteux blog title is most suitably the mit experience I think, rants, rock and reason, for that is what my experience at higher learning was and I don't think anyone anywhere could of asked for much more.

The breadthe of knowledge combined with absolute mumbo jumbo that bleeds through our ignorant ability to defend anything cultural is amazing, and I hope everyone realizes the power of communication that you get with the classes with took, and the familia that now begins to spread outward across all parts of the planet.

Yey to us, yey to where we will all be in 15 years, and yey to Chris for centering a compliment with so many names included.

hahah you included poolie....fukin poolie.

Chris in NF said...

Just to clarify: I didn't mean that Alternative Realities was a failed experiment. That class was one of my favourites out of everything I did at UWO ... and had one of the best ensembles of students I've ever encountered, too.

No, I was referring to "Screening Cynicism" ... a class that had a lot of promise, but I don't think I ever quite delivered the goods.