Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Funny" Student Tales

Whew! I'm DONE. I finally finished grading all my papers and finals - I will submit my remaining grades on Monday. I must say, I'm a little lost as to what to do next. Work, yes. But I'm kinda stymied...I'll think of a game plan tomorrow.

Other random bullets of crap are:

1) If I had my own personal anthem, it would be "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. The Dutchman is ROCKING OUT to this song in the kitchen while he's doing the dishes right now (and I'm blogging).

2) I'm getting new glasses. I've decided that my old frames look a bit too Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton late-80s vintage. So, I'm upgrading to stylish new specs. They are more rectangular and are silver on the top and ear-pieces, but they have no frame on the bottom. My prescription has changed a bit over the past few years, too.

3) In intend to shop a bit this summer to beef up my teaching wardrobe - any favorites??

4) We're eating leftovers tonight and I'm not thrilled.

But now to the title of this post. I was thinking today as I was in the Grading Zone plowing through the last of my exams about all the different student anecdotes I have collected over the past few years. I've got quite a few from this semester, but one stands out in my mind from a couple of years ago. First, let me say that I have taught at a lot of different schools - visiting positions, adjuncting, grad school, etc. This particular gig was a one semester thing and I was teaching a course at a local college with a lot of students in it. It was a medieval literature in translation course and we were reading a lot of classics - lots of Arthurian stuff.

So, I had one student in the class who was actually developmentally (he had a documented problem) and socially challenged. From the first day, this student responded very strongly to the material in the course and developed a rather serious attachment to me (ostensibly as the young female purveyor of the course material). He would inevitably come up to me after class and ask if I thought about medieval literature all the time and if I fell in love with each story anew when I read and taught them multiple times. I was like, "sure, kid." I tried to be nice, but firm about the boundaries that he was desperately trying to cross on a daily basis. He once told me that he wished he could drill a hole in my head, take all the information out, photocopy it, put the information back in, and then plug up the hole. When I've ever told anyone that, they inevitably say, "well, at least he plugged the hole up!" Sometimes he would tell me that he really wanted to touch my hair.

Around the middle of the semester, he began to share with me his steadfast belief that he was a reincarnation of King Arthur. At first I didn't respond, then I tried to tell him that it was all very interesting, but did he have any questions about the literature I could answer. Then the drawings began to arrive. They were of extremely busty women wearing medieval-ish garb. Think of a cross between Barbarella and a medieval beer wench. When I asked him why he'd given me this rather odd and highly innapropriate drawing, he said, "you don't recognize yourself?" Yep. He was convinced that I was a reincarnation of Guinevere, the adulterous queen herself.

After weeks of asking him to stop, reminding him that Arthur and Guinevere's relationship wasn't entirely auspicious, discussing the issue with the Dean and various other administrative folks, he finally got the message and left me alone.

I've always wondered whatever happened to him and if he developed an attachment to another professor. I never felt truly scared or worried about him coming after me (he was confined to a wheelchair and I lived far away). But it was his feeling that he could and should tell me anything that made me feel weird. He seemed to know that touching my hair wasn't something that he could do - but that didn't stop him from telling me that he wanted to. He was aware of the boundaries and wouldn't cross them physically, but he would acknowledge a *desire* to cross them. I look back on this as a funny story from my teaching past, but for another professor - or with another student - this could have been a very traumatizing scene.


What Now? said...

Ooh man ... weird student story indeed.

Enjoy your new glasses! I've had mine for a few months now, and every once in a while I still get compliments on them and enjoy it very much.

Flavia said...

Whoa. I was coming over here to say congratulations on being done (and to drool jealousy all over your blog), but that story has almost sidetracked me.

Although. . . if you still have those drawings, one of them would be AWESOME to put up on your faculty webpage, in lieu of a headshot.

medieval woman said...

Thanks! I'm happy to be done and to be drooled...over?....near?... :)

I wish I had kept one of the pictures for my faculty website - *seriously* it looked JUST like me, too! No one ever sees me without saying, "good god - you look just like a beer wench Barbarella, MW!" Well, at least the nose was accurate....

(hee, hee)

P.S. I'll post a pic of my new specs when they come in.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I had a stalker student once. Yours sounds like someone with Asperger's and a crush on you. Not harmful, but as you say, kind of freaky. I think we are much more defensive of our personal boundaries than we'd like to think, and teaching puts us in a position where people can focus on us in ways that are not always healthy or appropriate. Funny (not haha) to think we might engender the same kinds of feelings that famous people do, isn't it?

squadratomagico said...

That's an extremely creepy story! I never fail to be amused by the fact that everyone who ever "remembers" a past life has always been Arthur or Cleopatra or some such thing. Never a peasant, with the possible exception of having been a burned witch (I hear this one alot from people who fancy themselves rebels). And never, ever unsympathetic royalty like Marie Antoinette or the Romanovs.

I read a book recently in which the author claimed to be the reincarnation of both King Arthur AND King Ashoka, a great Indian King of the second century bce. Hubris, anyone?