The prof read a student sample for each of the four short answer questions from our midterm. They were all really really smart. Like better put together etc. than I would be likely to do even for texts I knew and liked. I got the lowest grade in the class. Awesome. He announced that nobody failed, that the lowest grade was such-and-such but most people got in the B range. I immediately guessed that I would be one of those people getting that lowest grade, and this was confirmed when I picked up my exam at the end of class. Woot. He says I can do better (how he knows this... but I suppose as a teacher it's his job to say/believe that) and we chatted briefly and I explained that I just don't care about anything/anyone in the texts we've read, which is a particular disadvantage in a challenging text like Joyce. Sigh. I really don't care that much about the grade, I just dislike that I'm so not getting anything out of this -- other than a solid sense that I'm not a fan of Joyce.
The prof said that some critic -- M.J.C. Hodgett (sp?) -- once said of Chapter 9 ("Scylla and Charybdis"): "This chapter is about Shakespeare and little else." Heart.
There's a bit in Chapter 8 ("Lestrygonians"): "Flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress: daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek. Rhubarb tart with liberal fillings, rich fruit interior." The prof said, "If you don't think that's sexual... well there's something wrong with you."
Yeah, that's about all I've got. I mean, I could discuss the lit crit in Chapter 9, but that would presume that anyone cares.
Edit: Okay, so I do have one thing to say about that. The prof was talking about how he was schooled in New Criticism (which surprised me given the way he taught Portrait; it's more forgivable in Ulysses) and during the break, one of the students (whom I would guess to be maybe thirty) asked about this, the approach apparently foreign to her. Smith was not relentlessly post-modern and didn't invalidate the bearing of sociohistorical factors (including the author's own history) on a text, but I still boggled that this approach seemed so foreign to her.