So Who Are They Assigning Down The Hall Anyway?

David Gilmour

I’m not exactly keen to join in on the collective online WTFery re: heterosexual manly-man Canadian author and sessional University of Toronto lecturer David Gilmour’s steadfast refusal to allow girl germs and POC cooties to infect the pristine, middle-aged white male sterility of his syllabus. There have already been ample creative rejoinders (and demonstrations — Serious Heterosexual Literary Scholar Northrop Frye never had it so goddamn good) to fulfill even your wildest schadenfreude-fueled fantasies (this highly-sophisticated ‘Gilmour-penned’ Woolf bio is a particularly fine example). But I am undeniably curious about one thing Gilmour said in his insta-infamous over-the-shoulder with some icky giiirrrrrrlll (who was probably just trying to make a name for herself by accurately quoting what was said on the record, amirite guys?):

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.

“[I]f you want women writers go down the hall.”

Ok, well, not to cast aspersions upon Mr. Gilmour’s highly-selective passion for what Belle Waring recently dubbed ‘Important [sic] Male Novelists’ (if not his apparent inability to untangle it from the accumulated navel lint prior to entering a lecture hall), but, speaking for myself, anyway, I kinda sorta *do* want exposure to a variety of perspectives. Most people who aren’t 60-something upper-middle class straight white dudes nursing their sexual hang-ups like a bloated, neurotic teat (ie, the overwhelming majority of 1st and 3rd year undergrads) probably want that too. And it’s kinda sorta Gilmour’s ethical mandate as an educator to give students exactly that, rather than offering a guided tour of the fragile male ego (now with extra menstrual-pad munching).

Sure, Gilmour may genuinely cherish his life-long diet of mayonnaise sammiches on white with the crusts cut off, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to indulge his demonstratively infantile palate. Therefore, as a public service to future students before they are forced to endure such a dreary literary diet, how about U of T offer a sample of what they are serving down the hall, this estrogen-saturated smorgasbord of women, Chinese and Friends of Dorothy that is so unappealing to David Gilmour’s narrow pedagogical appetite? I dunno ’bout the rest of the non-middle-aged upper-middle-class white guys out there, but this one is definitely starving for writers that don’t fit on the rote Important Male Novelist comfort food menu.

Indeed, as shocking as it may seem, some folks actually use higher education as a means to expand their horizons, as opposed to painting themselves into a safe, narrow corner of the same house that they’ve always lived in.