Yesterday we showed you David Gilmour, the University of Toronto English professor who told a female reporter that he is "not interested in teaching books by women." "What I teach is guys," Gilmour continued. "Serious heterosexual guys." Gilmour probably thought he sounded very serious and heterosexual while making this bold declaration—a real Ruff Ryder. Unfortunately, his colleagues and students are now calling him a buffoon.
A tipster forwards us two emails. The first is from Paul Stevens, acting chair in the University of Toronto department of English, who makes a point to stress that Gilmour is not a tenured University of Toronto professor:
Dear Colleagues and Graduate Students:
Like all those of you who have seen David Gilmour's comments in the Hazlitt magazine on teaching literature at U of T, I was appalled and deeply upset. They constitute a travesty of all we stand for. I will be pursuing the matter further today. There seem to me two points that immediately need to be emphasized. First, David Gilmour is not a member of the Department of English at the University of Toronto, and second, his ill-informed and offensive views could not be less representative of the passionately held values and actual practices of the Department. Please feel free to circulate this message as you think appropriate.
Many of you have already been trying to set the record straight—many thanks to Nick Mount, Heather Murray, Alex Gillespie, Michael Cobb, Holger Syme, and Katie Larson.
The next email is from associate professor Katherine Larson, who, along with her colleague Alex Gillespie, is helping two female graduate students in English organize a literary rally—there will be readings!—against Gilmour tomorrow:
Further to Paul's email, we are writing to let you know that two of our graduate students, Miriam Novick and Andrea Day, have organized a public event tomorrow to protest David Gilmour's statements by asserting the kind of work that is actually being undertaken by our department. Information is circulating on Facebook, but we are pasting it below so that it is available to all colleagues who might be interested in attending. If you would like to show your solidarity, we will be gathering at the Northrop Frye statue at Vic from 11:30-12:30. The organizers have encouraged participants to consider bringing a literary excerpt or a short statement to read.
Friday, September 27, 11:30-12:30
David Gilmour has generously reminded us of the importance of studying Serious Literature by Serious Heterosexual Guys. Let's show our support for the omission of unserious people like women, queer folks, and writers of colour (especially Chinese writers) from university syllabi by rallying around the statue to Serious Heterosexual Literary Scholar Northrop Frye.
Katie Larson and Alex Gillespie
University of Toronto academics have made their displeasure known outside of internal email chains, also. Holger Syme, who teaches Shakespeare at U of T, published this rather scathing post on his blog yesterday evening:
David Gilmour is not a professor of literature. He’s someone who teaches a couple of courses on an odd assemblage of texts. David Gilmour does not talk or think like a professor of literature. He doesn’t say the sorts of things professors of literature tend to say. He doesn’t seem interested in the sorts of things professors of literature are interested in. David Gilmour is not my colleague.