Teaching

My teaching interests include modernism, critical theory, and the novel. I most often teach English 461 (Introduction to Literary Theory), English 467/468 (Honours Theory), English 436a (Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature to WWII), English 436b (Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature after WWII), and graduate courses in Theory and the Modernist Novel. Recognizing that much of the material I teach is at least initially quite challenging, I like to use plenty of examples related to everyday experience and popular culture to communicate the fundamentals. I am committed to teaching students the skills required to think critically and to read with sophistication. If every book is a riddle with many possible answers, the ones I teach may be among the most enigmatic of them all — but they’re also among the most rewarding to ‘solve.’ Both the material and I will push you outside your comfort zone. You might not like it, but I guarantee you’ll learn from it.

Here’s a mix of feedback, mostly anonymous, I’ve received on my teaching over the last fifteen+ years. Some of it is mean (but funny), and some of it is complimentary; the truth is no doubt somewhere in between:

He’s arrogant; his face is cartoonish, and his hair…well, it’s like a relic from the 50’s. But this guy knows his stuff. Learn from him.

This is my favourite professor. Very hard marker though, but he managed to make a difficult subject (lit theory) interesting and funny, I can’t see a lot of other professors being able to do that. Well worth all the work, trust me.

He is so critical. His readings are difficult. He assigns a ton of work.

He speaks clearly, but that’s about it. His door is often open, that’s a bonus. He’s on the other side though, and that’s a minus. 

He did not say one nice thing to any of his students all semester. He will take up class time to tell you how great his academic achievements are and how bad his students write. If the man actually paid attention to helping his students write his intelligence might actually be put to good use.

Stephen Ross was the most engaged instructor I’ve ever taken classes with; to this day, he is the best teacher I’ve ever had.

An arrogant **** who should not be a teacher. He knows what he’s talking about and is no doubt highly intelligent but has no people skills whatsoever, is rude and obnoxious and unmotivating. I was incredibly intimadated by him. Maybe the next time an entire class “doesn’t understand the concepts” he should take a look at the way he is teaching

Ross is arrogant and likes to think he knows everything. He is a hard marker. His thesis exercises were a good idea, but there wasn’t enough time given to get a really good idea written down. Kinda like that proverbial fat kid you knew in school–the one who always boasted when he became king of the castle. “Ooh, I’m Ross, demigod of literature.”

One of Stephen’s rare talents in the graduate classroom lies in his ability to strike a tone that is both casual and rigorous. The productive force of his enthusiasm encouraged us to rise to the difficulties of the course material with our best ideas in hand.

I have taken a number of classes with Stephen: as a junior undergraduate, as a senior undergraduate, and as a grad student. I have also taken many classes with other instructors. And I have taken graduate classes at other institutions. Stephen Ross was the most engaged instructor I’ve ever taken classes with; to this day, Stephen Ross is the best teacher I’ve ever had. And I credit him for my ability to discuss theory and literature (especially the theory and literature that I don’t study) in any situation. Take a class with Dr. Ross: it will only improve your ability to read, write, and translate the discipline of English into any other world.