Illnesses keep Bloom, Winks out of classroom for spring

Students hoping to take courses this spring from two famous Yale professors will have to return to their Blue Books.

Neither humanities professor Harold Bloom, a renowned Shakespeare scholar, nor history professor Robin Winks, a member of the Yale faculty since 1957, will return to teaching this semester. Bloom’s two courses — “Shakespeare and the Canon: Tragedies and Romances” and “The Agon of American Poetry with the European Tradition” — and Winks’ “Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands” seminar have all been cancelled this term.

Bloom cancelled all his classes during shopping period last fall because of an illness. Winks suffered a stroke a few weeks into the semester, forcing him to hand off his teaching duties to other professors.

But Bloom said in an e-mail that he would be back teaching full-time next fall.

Associate dean of Yale College Penelope Laurans, a close family friend of Bloom, said in an e-mail that Bloom intends to teach again in the future.

“Professor Bloom won’t be teaching this semester but he is on the mend, recovering well and regaining strength,” Laurans said.

After Winks’ stroke in the fall, professor John Demos took over his seminar, “The Writing of History,” History chairman Jon Butler said.

“Professor Winks has made an amazing recovery and is in very good spirits,” Butler said.

Winks was also co-teaching “The National Parks: Lessons in Diversity, Environmental Quality and Justice” with visiting professor Robert Stanton in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Chaim Bloom ’04, a student in Winks’ seminar, said he was saddened and disappointed when he heard about Winks’ stroke from Butler and Demos.

“I had heard a lot of good things and it seemed from the first two weeks that it would have been a great course,” Bloom said.

Chaim Bloom said he was worried at first that Winks’ replacement would not be of as high a caliber. But Demos’ book, “The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America,” as well as a guest appearance from Demos, were both scheduled on the course’s syllabus. Given Demos’ prior involvement with the course, he was a strong replacement, Bloom said.

Demos also teaches a graduate-level course that is similar to Winks’ seminar and conducts a Graduate School workshop on the writing of history.

Michael Schulman ’03, who took Bloom’s seminar “Genius and Genius” and one of Bloom’s Shakespeare courses, said while Bloom’s thoughts on Shakespeare were fascinating, Bloom’s own personality was the most interesting part of the course.

“He had a fascinating personality and just to watch him speak and digress was an amazing character study,” Schulman said. “He’s a legend and he had so many great stories and ways of thinking about himself.”

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