I had a pretty rotten start to the day. Nothing particularly horrible: for various reasons, I worked late, then was up relatively early to do a day of teaching. Up until last Wednesday, I was under the impression I’d be on leave this semester, so there was an added sense of disbelief when I started my commute to Liverpool for the first time this year. I was tired. I wasn’t sure how the large-group afternoon workshop/ lecture/ seminar would work out, given that I’d been thinking it over and over until 2AM. One of my dogs had a scrap with their best friend; no serious harm done, but not a great addition to the day thus far.
And then I remembered what I was teaching that morning in my first-year seminar for a module on British literature and culture in the 1960s: the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial. I was thrilled, and the students were engaged (not least by the prosecution counting the times the word “fucking” – among others – occurred in the novel).
The lecture / workshop on second-wave feminism felt different from what I thought it would. It reminded me of all the research and work I’ve done to this point on a topic which I love. It reminded me that whenever we stand in a classroom, we have an incredible chance to make a real difference to the way our students think about certain topics. And maybe, just maybe, I might even get a laugh out of them.
I had one of those moments where I wonder how I forgot – however briefly – how much I love what I do. I was grateful to be with my students, to be able to talk to them about issues and ideas that I excite me, that make me angry, that make me do that thing where I wave my hands about far too much when I’m talking.
No profession is perfect, and this blog is testament to the fact that I’m not someone who shies away from critiquing mine. Love is a charged and dangerous term for all vocations. I think, though, that we can love what we do without being exploited because of that love.
But I’m incredibly grateful – not just today – for being able to do what I do, and for being able to do something that makes me feel this way most days I set foot in a classroom. I worked hard to get here, and I’m so glad I did.