Uniformity in the Classroom
|To be filed under: Why I love teaching at U State.|
I'm teaching The Man of Mode in an undergraduate seminar, and my students seemed completely disinterested in it the during the first class on Monday. I decided to make the politics of fashion and clothing the hook in class two, thinking that they'd all have something to say about clothes, and style, and identity, and such. So we talked about Sir Fopling's gloves (he is proud of being known as bien gante!) and Medley's knowledge of equipage, and we slowly worked ourselves to the idea that there might be some sort of serious social commentary involved in all the satire (not an obvious point for my students). In order to really drive it all home, I turned the conversation towards contemporary fashion, and, indeed, towards their own clothing choices. They were a bit hesitant at first, so I pointed at one of my students, kind of a slacker goatee-wearing dude, who was wearing one of those mechanic-type button down workshirts... you know, the ones that often have someone's name embroidered over the pocket and some ironic company name on the back: "Frank's Tube-Fitting," or something along those lines. This guy's shirt had an Exxon patch on the front. I pointed at him, my mouth watering at the chance to discuss fashionably false class identifications, and said, "What about you, Student? What made you wear that Exxon shirt today?" Not even blinking, he replied, "I work at an Exxon station."
This, for some reason I have yet to pin down, elated me. I was all: Yes! And then we talked about uniforms and employment and how all that compares with the world of Restoration town comedy, in which noooobody works. They began to get it, I think... but in a totally different way from the way I get it. And that is yet another reason why I like my job.