Friday, January 11, 2008

Back to the Books

Whew! First week of the new semester is over! It's always a busy time: making sure everybody's enrolled in the courses who wants to be, going over syllabi, trying to convince students that this semester is going to be Challenging but Rewarding. It's a fun time too--I like looking out at the new faces on the first day, calling out names on the roll and trying to guess who's going to be what kind of student. That guy slouching in the back who can barely be bothered to raise his hand may or may not stick around. The girl up front with a bright smile whose hand shoots up like a rocket is going to be making straight A's. Some of this term's students are veterans of past classes and know what to expect from me; others will find out soon enough. (Insert knowing chuckle here.)

I'm (stupidly? heroically?) teaching both halves of art history survey this semester, Ancient-Medieval being one and Renaissance-Present the other. I love teaching survey, I really do, and a selfish reason why is that it's an opportunity for ME to get back to the books, read up on areas that aren't my specialty. I browse the library for new books that may have come out recently, and updating lecture notes is a great excuse to read them. A recent read is Gregory Curtis' The Cave Painters on prehistoric art--a real treat--and this weekend I'm finally going to sit down with Timothy Hyman's Sienese Painting. The names on the roll aren't the only students around. I'm one too, and I won't ever stop!

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