This post is actually the reason I wanted to start writing again, but i thought of it a while ago, so ignore the temporal proximity of these updates.
I've been noticing something very peculiar in my conferences this week. We have been talking about the play A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill, which I find quite misogynistic, and there's a lot of sexual assault discourse in it that I find very problematic. Before the conferences, I thought my work was pretty much done for me because usually all you have to do in class to get discussion going is say the word "gender" or "feminist reading" and hands go shooting up into the air. Well, apparently I'm older than I thought, and I am missing a generational sea change in interest in feminist issues.
Back when I was a young one in first year (barely 6 years ago) it seemed all anyone wanted to talk about was feminism. Not having discussed it much in high school, I took every opportunity to write my papers about the "woman question" whenever there was one on the list of topics. After an illuminating conversation with my dad, I decided that choosing to focus my work on women's issues was a form of self-marginalization, and if I wanted to be successful as an equalist (as opposed to feminist?) I would focus my attention on anything BUT feminist issues. I thought this was revolutionary; turns out it's what everyone's been doing.
I brought up these issues of gender in conference, and no one wanted to say a word. They couldn't have cared less about the feminist reading of the play! In the final conference, I asked the small group what the hell was going on--"Don't you guys care about this stuff? Is feminism passe already?" Apparently they had all been over and over it in high school and found the whole thing boring. They are ready to talk about something else.
Excellent! Ecocriticism anyone? Shall we replace the woman as marginalized subject with non-human nature, an often ignored and misused subject position in literature?
No. They weren't ready to talk about that either.
I let them go home early.