... has changed completely.
The very first lecture I ever gave was on the poetry of Sylvia Plath (and Adrienne Rich, I think) to first year Modern Literature students. There would have been several hundred of them, and it would have been about 1985. I wore a long-sleeved purple cotton shirt. This was back in the days when women, though present in my department, were more likely tutors than lecturers, and certainly not senior lecturers or professors. I'm sure it was the surprise of seeing a young woman lecturing, and the astonishing poetry of Plath, or perhaps just kindness at seeing someone inexperienced making it through to the end of the lecture without falling over, but I received a round of applause and was instantly, thoroughly hooked.
The writing of lectures, and the nervous anticipation of presenting them, is upon me again this semester. I'm writing new lectures for my own medievalism subject, and next week I will also give two lectures in one of our new multi-disciplinary subjects, Homer to Hollywood. So on Monday I lecture on the Bayeux Tapestry at 10.00, then repeat the lecture at 12.00; then on Wednesday it's the Song of Roland at 10.00, then 45 minutes on Malory and the myth of Camelot to the medievalism students. One of my tutors will then give his first half-lecture in the course on Tennyson's Lady of Shalott (this is a ridiculous 90-minute lecture spot for the 118 students in this course), while I dash back to repeat the Roland lecture at midday.
Over the years I have become more economical in the preparation of lectures. My Plath lecture was a pretty complete script, written well in advance. These days, if I prepare too soon, or too comprehensively, I feel the lecture falls flat. I must also admit, even though I once made a speech about how Powerpoint was not a necessary component of good teaching, I do use it now, as a way of organising my thoughts and concentrating my preparation. So I'll prepare an outline on one slide, load up any images or text I want to analyse, add in a few notes at the bottom of some slides ... and just start talking.
It's a bit risky, this method. It's possible to spend too long finding good images and playing with the powerpoint designs, and forgetting about the actual points you want to make, though it's easier if, like me, you have no design imperatives or skills: default settings usually work just fine. I still find it a little hard to make the best use of powerpoint. It's great for images, and for close textual analysis, and that makes it great for teaching medieval culture, but it does tend to reduce everything down to dot points, when we know - and when we want our students to know - that things are usually a lot more complicated than that.
So while the hot northerly winds bluster around the house*, I'm uploading images of the tapestry, and re-reading the poem, and thinking about Malory, and trying to judge that perfect balance between preparedness and freshness that will see me through those 4.75 hours of lectures next week.
* Thank goodness the weather pixie hasn't put her bikini on, though. I had to think long and hard before choosing this model, because of the swimsuit option that came with it. What if people thought she was me? Worse than wearing the wrong frock to a lecture...