Women, literature, and cell phones
Most professors I know hand out dire cell phone policies at the beginning of each academic year: If you touch, text, or even breathe on your cell phone, you will fail this course. I approve, but always fall short. If I had those rules I would fail my own classes.For instance, right before my first Women and Literature class, my son called in a panic; he needed a ride home from school. I tried his dad — no answer — I had to start class with that horrible feeling — son’s ride unresolved. I set my cell phone next to me on the table. I am sorry about the phone, I said, and I looked at the faces of the young women around the table. They were here to learn about Women and Literature. And I was here to teach them, while my son stood in the pick up spot, alone, watching the tumbleweeds blow by. Before the son crisis I was going to start class with the obvious (and urgent) questions: What are women? What is literature? And, should there be a class called Women and Literature? I figured that answering these would take the entire class time since my answers to these questions are ongoing and not at an end yet. But instead I realized that we had a case in point right here at the table, a live example of women and literature. Look, I said, I am a woman; I am involved in literature. I mean I am supposed to be teaching you about literature and I write – Are my things literature? — that is another much larger question (see last post). Now I have carpool problems. Hence cell phone. Hence the history of women and literature. Does anyone know why? They did not know why. I couldn’t blame them. I wouldn’t have known why either at age nineteen. But now that I have written entire books to the soundtrack of Clifford the big red dog, Dinosaur!, and Nature specials, it seems a given that my cell phone would have to make an occasional appearance in class.