Novelist David Gilmour: “I’m not interested in teaching books by women”
There are a few things that University of Toronto professor David Gilmour does not like: all Canadian writers, Chinese writers and female writers.
What does he like? Himself, it seems.
Also, dudes. Dudes can write.
In a recent interview with Hazlitt, an online magazine by Random House Canada, Gilmour said, “I’m not interested in teaching books by women.”
“What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.”
But I can only teach stuff I love. I can’t teach stuff that I don’t, and I haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach.
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
Gilmour, whose novel “Extraordinary” is a finalist for the Giller prize, is under the impression that he teaches “only the best,” because he is, by his estimation, one of the best:
I got this job six or seven years ago, usually the University of Toronto doesn’t allow people to become professors without a doctorate. You have to have a doctorate to teach here, but they asked if I would teach a course, and I said I would. I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing. And my book ‘The Film Club’ is about teaching my son about life and the world through film.
Wow, an asshole of the highest degree.
Unfortunately, academia is filled with assholes like this.
He has an ego problem.
He's an arrogant ass hat.
How prosaic his mind must be to venture through life unperturbed by influences that don't reinforce his own stagnant hegemony.
Then again, we're all capable of prejudice. For example, I only read authors who have talent and the insight to say something worthwhile. So my bigotry will extend to giving a generous berth to any of his mediocre scribblings.
Yes, he looks like a real guy-guy ... The Bea Arthur look is so butch on a man...
[quote] I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera
Having seen the man on TV many times during his years with the CBC, this proves he's not only a smug bastard, but a liar. Watching him find a camera is like watching my grandmother trying to focus on the person talking to her when she couldn't see or hear them properly.
Also, this is the guy who, when his kid was on drugs on flunking out of school, made the big condition of doing so that he watch three movies a week and discuss them (see link).
Does this mean YOU can list some important female writers?
That guy sounds like he BELONGS on Datalounge. None of you guys like women either.
R7, YOU sound like a bitter Lesbian. I think most of the men here probably read a great deal of fiction by women writers, whether it is Agatha Christie, Jane Austin, Margaret Atwood, or Nancy Mitford.
"How prosaic his mind must be to venture through life unperturbed by influences that don't reinforce his own stagnant hegemony." R3
Nice. I'm afraid many academics I've met are like this. Sigh.
What kind of teacher only teaches about artists they like? I think Richard Wagner is an asshat. Does that mean if I taught about opera, I could pretend there is no such thing as Die Ring des Nibelungen, and that would be fine with the university? No wonder students are so ignorant.
R4, did you read the comments he made at the link? Says he most dislikes "men who are afraid if their wives" and a bullying employer. Sounds like he has issues. And Bea Arthur is way more macho looking than he is.
I've worked in academia for years, and I've fortunately never encountered an egomaniac of this order. I suspect it's because he perceives himself as special—"got the teaching job without a PhD"—a star hire who can indulge his whims and predispositions and make the class all about himself. The star hires I've known have taken their teaching jobs seriously. His university should cut him loose and hire a real teacher.
Bet he takes up a lot of room on the subway.
It has been my experience that universities are full of entitled arrogant pinheads. They are not the brilliant minds that they think they are. And they are grossly overpaid.
But he's a Canadian writer himself, so ... ?
I have to confess I read one of this guy's books years ago and liked it. I'm sorry to see him getting so intolerant in his old age.
Marcel Proust, now there's a real guy's guy, tee-hee.
[quote]That guy sounds like he BELONGS on Datalounge. None of you guys like women either.
Congratulations on completely missing the point.
People are allowed to have their own literary preferences when it comes to their own personal reading.
But a lit teacher in a University shouldn't approach his teaching that way.
Gilmour is an asshat. Even if his comments were off hand and jokey, which he claims, it still reveals how he conducts his teaching. It also exposes him as not as intelligent as he thinks he is.
BTW, he's not actually a professor at the U of T. He wasn't hired in the English department. He's a writer and broadcaster (he used to review movies on CBC) and was hired to teach a few courses.
He looks like a lesbian.
In a round about way he is saying that the course he teaches is a waste of time. Students are best to spend their huge debt somewhere else.
What a dick. What famous books has he written?
A Canadian lit prof who refuses to teach Alice Munro should be fired.
Professors should teach what they think are the best books. If none of those books happen to be written by women, who cares?
Why is there an obligation to keep putting a step stool out so women feel validated?
Maybe it is different where he is but in the UK any professor who dismissed George Eliot, Jane Austin, Mary Shelley,the Bronte sisters ect as not worthy of study would be laughed at and out of work.
Reading between the lines all he is capable of teaching is standard 20th century North American classics and he is a step away from saying Shakespeare isn't very interesting either because he would be out of his depth trying to give lectures on it.
I am guessing but maybe he has been told to broaden his classes and he isn't capable of it. None of the writers he mentioned are remotely difficult to study, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
I'm not interested in reading books by David Gilmour.
R22 No, professors should teach what are generally accepted to be the best books. One professor's opinion should not be the basis of an education.
You seem completely unaware that there are many major women writers in the accepted canon of Western Literature.
R21 is right. Alice Munro may very well be the best short story writer in the world.
He's a shitty teacher if all he can teach is stuff he loves.
Now he's backtracking.
'There isn't a sexist bone in my body!'
So when one seeks an education, their quest for knowledge is limited to subjects and figures determined by the personal tastes of their instructors? One's education is beholden to a teacher's likes and dislikes?
This guy is an arrogant asshole, misogynist and homophobe. He has no business teaching anyone anything.
I can't say I blame him. Good for him.
Teaching college-level lit is exactly the same thing as talking to a camera? If that were the case, his job would be superfluous, as anybody who wanted to learn about literature could get just as much from watching YouTube clips as from paying thousands for his class. Idiot.
[quote]What I teach is guys. Serious [bold]heterosexual[/bold] guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
Professors should teach what they think are the best books. If none of those books happen to be written by homosexuals, who cares?
Why is there an obligation to keep putting a step stool out so homosexuals feel validated?
"Yes, he looks like a real guy-guy ... The Bea Arthur look is so butch on a man..."
LOL. Glad someone called him out on this.
"I can't say I blame him. Good for him."
You sound dumb. And self-loathing. Why are you defending this homophobe?
He shouldn't have to teach gay authors, either. Should the school rethink his place there? Yes, of course. Would I take a course taught be him after learning this? Absolutely not. But the whole idea of forcing PC notions onto a curriculum is an absurd idea. To me, saying no course list is complete without ethnic or female or gay writers is no better than saying the curriculum CAN'T have ethnic or female or gay writers.
I thought we were done with all of this artificial leveling of the playing field.
[quote]I thought we were done with all of this artificial leveling of the playing field.
Well, we're not, Justice Scalia. What made you think that?Your answer can't include the words "black president", either.
The issue is not that he should teach writings by women or gay people because they are women or gay, but that he should not exclude them because they are women or gay, R34. That is a big difference.
No one is saying he "has" to teach anything but the best books. However, espousing the notion that only heterosexual men write "the best" books is flagrant chauvinism.
What a breath of fresh air. I'm glad someone finally said what we've all been thinking, but were afraid to vocalize.
R37, everyone is implicitly saying that a literature course that doesn't include female writers is invalid, so yes they are saying that he HAS to include women writers.
And, ps, he is including Virginia Woolf.
What an asshole.
It's all well and good for a teacher to want to teach what he or she loves. But it's highly suspect for a teacher to say that there is only one female author he loves.
Perhaps he should read more.
He is a sexist, homophobic asshole with issues about masculinity. Also, he is and ignorant idiot if he thinks Tolstoy or Flitzgerald were straight.
Typical posturing, a Canadian Larry Summers.
I wish people like this with their insane paranoia about political correctness, were all dead. They don't add anything to society, even a fresh perspective. His whole career is one long projection of mental illness and violence.
Translation: "I can't teach what I don't understand."
This guy is trapped in Gender Hell.
An obvious bottom when drunk enough to forget about his shitty childhood.
'There isn't a sexist bone in my body!'
Nonsense. Look at his girlie hips.
Probably has osteoparosis
Teach whatever you want, Mister Macho Try-Hard. Since Miller and Roth bore me to tears, and I read my fill of some of the others in high school, I'd never go near your classes.
No Flannery O'Connor, Isak Dinesen, Dawn Powell, Patricia Highsmith, Marguerite Yourcenar, Edith Wharton or George Eliot (just for starters)?
I pity his sorry ass.
This is why people who haven't actually studied literature should not be teaching it at the university-level.
That said, if he were a legitimate teacher, he could and should teach whatever he wants that makes academic sense. So, teaching 19th Victorian novelists and ignoring Austen would be absurd. Teaching any survey course which ignores key authors because they are women would be intellectually dishonest.
However, if he wanted to teach a course on men's literature - from an academic perspective - in the same way that women's literature or feminism is taught, go ahead.
The problem with his position is not the exclusion of women authors, it's the emotionally infantile rationale which lacks any credible basis.
So, he posts here, right?
Anti frau is anti frau....
Btw isn't there some kind of objective curriculum he must follow in teaching. I find it strange that he can just "choose" what books they're gonna read. I'm not from US, so I don't know, but in my country it would be unthinkable
R7 That's not true. I'm a guy and Sarah Waters is my favorite contemporary novelist. I don't know how anyone can hate anyone else based on status (race, gender, etc.).
And the gay/lesbian movement would not be where it is today if it weren't for the support of straight women. They were the first to listen, to understand, empathize, and defend us.
r30 [quote]I can't say I blame him. Good for him.
I'm sure you hate women like aids, but he's talking about gays too.
[quote]Who are your favourite prose authors?
Tolstoy, Proust, Chekhov, Truman Capote and Scott Fizgerald
Truman Capote? Now, he's a REAL man's man.
The Film Club is a poorly written, pompous, self-deluded, self-satisfied book--a memoir that seems designed to show what an enlightened parent he is, but in reality shows what a self-satisfied asshole he is.
Does he feel masculine? Because he certainly doesn't look it. It's obvious that he's painfully overcompensating. To everyone but him that is.
He screens "Last Tango in Paris" for his predominantly female classes because he's an old goat scoping out the twentysomething pussy.
Hemingway tried not to be a fag, too, Professor.
He ended up putting a gun in his mouth.
Here's his "excuse":
[quote] "This was an interview I gave sort of over the shoulder. I was having a conversation, in French, with a colleague while this young woman was doing this interview."
Can you say pompous asshole in French? Let me help you: gros connard pretentieux.
I don't read books by women. They bore me and don't speak to me at all. Why do you queens all have your panties in a knot. Big fucking deal.
What if he taught a class and nobody came?
One of the greatest American novels from the late 20th century is "The Color Purple."
It will stand the test of time....Roth will not.
[quote]I don't read books by women. They bore me and don't speak to me at all.
No one gives a shit about your short-sighted misogyny, except maybe your mom. Unless you're also a university literature professor? No? You're not? Of course not. We didn't think so.
I had written a long, indignant post.
Then I realized R4 covered the wit and R43 the wisdom.
r62 big yawn
At least R59 shows his self-awareness at R64.
I can't imagine picking up a book, or hearing about one, then realizing it's written by a woman and rejecting it on that basis. What sort of mindset does that?
It took r48 until someone actually read the article(s).
He is not a professor, he is a lecturer. This is a bullshit 1% culture club appointment that happens all the time.
As much as he is an arrogant asshole, he is implicitly stating that he is not a professional educator because he is saying that he can only teach what he likes. A professor would not have this problem.
He is upfront about this with his students, so anyone with personal or educational objections can avoid the course.
BTW, I'm not condoning his views. I'm Canadian and quite familiar with his TV interviews. His ego, bias, and immaturity were on full display for his whole CBC career.
I tend to prefer male writers myself. There are many women writers that I admire and books by women that make my best of list.
One thing I have noticed is, when there is a book by a woman writer that is among my favorites it tends to be the only book or one of a few by that author that I even want to read.
Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres and The Greenlanders are among my favorite books. I hate the rest of them.
Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife is my favorite and I found the others ones that I did not finish.