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Sunday, October 23, 2005

It was bound to happen

Last weekend, I came up with what I thought was a pretty great introduction to my keynote: snappy, engaging, and above all appropriate for an audience that already knows Neglected Author backwards and forwards.

But this week, as I was practicing my delivery, I found myself a little puzzled by the tone that I was developing in those opening lines. What was this, exactly, that I was going for? Kind of a hard-edged charm: sweet and seductive, but with a rather vicious underlayer. And as I broke it down, I was totally digging on it: yes, that's exactly what I want! Charming! Iron hand in the velvet glove! Seductive, but bitchy! Yes!

And then I realized, fuck. That's Advisor all over, isn't it?

I suppose it was bound to happen. I chose her as an advisor not only because our intellectual interests overlapped (there was at least one other faculty member who would have been an equally good choice), but because our temperaments also seemed to overlap. Before starting my dissertation I had had two graduate classes with her and she was heavily involved in departmental workshops on professionalization and publication and looking-ahead-to-the-job-market. She's been a part of my grad school life since the beginning. How, then, to tell which mannerisms and attitudes I've always held; which are lifted straight from her; and which are some combination of her influence on my own preexisting tendencies?

It's a little worrying, but in some ways I'm delighted when I recognize the influence of others in my professional persona. If I stop to think about my classroom manner, I can see the influence not only of Advisor, but also of two great professors I had as an undergrad. That aggressive delivery style, that Camille Paglia-like interrogatory "okay?" at the end of every other sentence? That's a professor I had my senior year of college: straight out of grad school, wicked smart, and gorgeous with an incongruously deep and abrasive voice. The bemused, wondering tone I take when pointing out authorial foibles or bizarre sexual fetishes? That's a professor who taught the lecture class that I took sophomore year and that, ultimately, got me interested in almost everything I work on today.

Whatever echoes there are, are unintentional, but I like that sense that I've learned something from the many wonderful teachers I've had--and that indeed I've learned it so well that it's become second nature.

link | posted by La Lecturess at 8:22 PM |


Blogger BrightStar commented at 11:41 AM~  

I found myself adopting this weird little "right?" at the end of sentences after talking over time with a professor I admire. It's interesting how we mirror those we respect with our discourse practices.

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