I once made the mistake of showing the film Crumb to my survey class freshman. It is an excellent and really fascinating film about an artist that I admire enormously and that was historically important too, of course. But I didn't remember the film in all of its, uh, complexities. The response was not one I would seek to reproduce.

Today, in the context of talking about 1950s culture as well as the legal transformation of notions of obscenity, I played a recording of Allen Ginsburg reading "Howl" (and projected the poem) without fully considering the probable impact of the poem, the possibility that some terms might not translate easily, or, to be sure, adequately getting all of my ducks in a row ahead of time to make the poem land a bit easier.

One big difference was that my students at VWC were horrified and very vocal after watching Crumb, while the students here likely were perplexed more than anything.


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