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Recap: Homer

May 16, 2007

I shouldn’t say “I’m surprised that I had a lot of fun in Homer” because I tend to say that with every literature class I take. “I can’t believe I like some poetry!” (I said SOME, Telaina.) “Wow, who knew that something so boring would be so DEEP?” And so on.

I did have a lot of fun in Homer. We read two works, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and then we did a ton of other reading as well: full texts or bits and pieces from the Ramayana, Ovid, Virgil, Milton, Hesiod, the Sunjata, and I’m sure there’s at least one more that I don’t remember because my essays were lost in the big hard drive crash. If you go into Homer thinking you’re only going to read the two major works, you’re fooling yourself. We looked at timelines, divine family trees, etc.

The Iliad is the big one, the hard one. The Odyssey is more fun and moves at a faster pace. You’ve probably read one or both in high school. I’m not sure that’s the same thing as taking Professor Roessel’s class.

The thing about Roessel is, you know he’d rather be out there, writing something or researching something or puttering around in Greece than be in a classroom. This doesn’t mean you’re not going to learn things you wouldn’t have elsewhere–in fact, it might mean you are BECAUSE of that. However, if you asked him to describe himself, I’m not sure “teacher” would be in that description.

He doesn’t seem to get people who aren’t as wrapped up in learning as he is–which would be everyone else in the world. If you’re the kind of person who prioritizes work or family because school, he’s not the kind of teacher you want. He’s somewhat sympathetic, but bemused. He thinks the point of education is to learn, not to get through all your classes and get your degree so you can get a good job.

He can be talked into extending the date of an assignment because he’d rather you have the time to get it done right–but that means he wants it done RIGHT. For about three-quarters of the semester, I felt I couldn’t pin down his idea of “right,” but I think it’s the sort of thing one could get published–tight and maybe just a bit dry. There’s no room for pop culture references or comparisons (because he won’t get them, unless they’re about The Wizard of Oz and I wouldn’t go there).

I’ve heard that he’s been more lenient and more fun in other classes, but I’m going to settle on: If you’re not willing to work hard, Roessel and Homer are not the professor and class combination for you.

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