Academic freedom in action: Ignoring the women at the U of T

David Gilmour, novelist and former broadcaster, and currently teacher at the University of Toronto:

I teach modern short fiction to third and first-year students. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors. Not much on the Canadian front. 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.

via David Gilmour on Building Strong Stomachs | Hazlitt | Random House of Canada.


UPDATE: Is David Gilmour a sexist? David Gilmour says, of course not.

UPPERDATE: Lest you believe Gilmour was taken out of context or misquoted, the transcript has been published.

EVEN MORE UPDATES: I put together a Storify — “Twitter is such a bore …”

One thought on “Academic freedom in action: Ignoring the women at the U of T”

  1. I remember David Gilmour only from his film reviewing days. I am aware of his having written a few books but I haven’t read them — not that that’s relevant. Anyway, why the big fuss? The guy prefers a certain kind of literature, he’s apparently well-versed in that genre, so that’s what he decides to teach. What’s the beef?

    I’m sure some of his women colleagues probably prefer to teach The Feminine Mystique, A Room of One’s Own, The Vagina Monologues among other women’s lit. I’m sure those women professors would balk, and quite loudly, if they were asked to include some of the titles listed here.
    Why shouldn’t a David Gilmour enjoy the same academic freedom?

    The only mistake Gilmour made, IMO, is apologizing for expressing those preferences of his, especially to a journalist, many of whom — I hate to say it in present company — are great at writing fiction.

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