Feeling Like an Impostor at 49

One of my nightmares happened today.

I reminded my Shakespeare students that I’m a full-time generalist and a part-time Shakespeare professor, and that I’m constantly comparing my own classroom performance with the brilliant well-planned lectures my professors delivered to classes of 100 or 400 students. I reminded them that my professors had graduate students to do their marking for them, and that their job was mostly to be brilliant in a narrow field and to mentor the graduate students, while my job involves covering a wide range of courses (from Shakespeare to new media journalism) and mentoring undergraduates.

I did this to remind them that learning is a process.

Minutes after I finished that speech, a student made an intelligent observation about Julius Caesar, a play I’ve never taught, never seen, and if it was on the syllabus of the Shakespeare classes I took as an undergrad I remember nothing about it, so I assume I’ve never read it.

I could come up with nothing intelligent to say, other than affirming the student for making the observation.

And the second part of my nightmare didn’t happen — the students didn’t all point at me and denounce me as a fraud.