A retrospective column for graduating staff members of Trinity Times, to express their appreciation for some of the formative instructors they have had over the past four years of their degrees.

credit: Kathy Lee

Adam Hammond

Assistant Professor in the Department of English

Courses taught: ENG287 (Digital Text), ENG320 (Modern Fiction)

English undergraduates will likely first encounter this young, subversive instructor in the degree requirement course ENG287, also known as ‘Literature for the Digital Age’. Back in the Before Times, the scent of a freshly-smoked joint – and the carefully curated, hipsterish taste in alternative music – would wonderfully waft through the lecture auditorium. Through webcomics, choose-your-own-adventure games on Twine, and a plethora of indie video games, Hammond challenges his pupils’ assumptions of what can be considered ‘literature’ in our modern technological and multimedia world. However, the few novels he places on his course’s syllabus are also stellar and potentially life-changing – whether you prefer Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer-Prize collection of vignettes about characters struggling with nostalgia (A Visit from the Goon Squad) or Sheila Heti’s raw work of autofiction set within Toronto’s community of young bohemian artists (How Should a Person Be?). 

If you put stock in pervy Rate My Prof reviews, then expect an instructor who has plenty of incisive literary ‘hot-takes’ to share, and one who looks hot while giving them. On that note, thirsty first-years can soon look forward to having Hammond helm the survey course ENG140: Literature in Our Time, a post previously held by another beloved Department super-prof, Nick Mount. After taking ENG287, you’ll never forget which former world-famous former UofT professor (hint: there are only two of them) coined the axiom “the medium is the message”. But if you do, as Hammond will kindly remind you, the answer’s on a plaque on the St. Mikes’s campus – and it’s actually “massage”, not “message”.

Vasilis Dimitriadis 

Professor in the Department of History

Courses taught: HIS103 (History of International Relations)

Between the two-hour commute, late-night practices, and a general sense of bewilderment, my first year seemed to pass in a haze through which I am still trying to decipher familiar forms and a cohesive timeline. However, there is one thing that is forever sealed into my memory – Professor Dimitriadis’ history class, in a stuffy Sid Smith classroom that seemed to change locations every week. The lecture was Monday from 6 to 8 pm and as much as I wanted to hate it, I couldn’t. Prof Dimitriadis, with his grey ponytail, pacing, and narration of historical events as if they happened at his house party last week always filled me with calm, confidence, and removed my desire to throw myself on the tracks of line 1. His weekly history jokes, his casual assertion that Paul I was Saltykov and not Peter III’s son, and his willingness to be cited for an essay by my friend in grade 12 sitting in on the lecture, will always cement his legendary status in my eyes. 

Despite the fact that the first essay knocked out of me any desire to pursue history as a minor, I will always remember the class fondly and miss Vasilis. Perhaps it was the first class at UofT that I was ever truly excited for. Some of the valuable lessons I learned: you always want to be in the majority in an unstable alliance of three (great way to navigate first-year friend groups), Russia is obsessed with access to warm water ports (especially Bosphorus straits), status quo ante bellum (also known as “let’s just throw people and money at the problem and hope it resolves itself™”), and the negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles would make for one great sitcom (my backup career plan).

Michael Kessler

Assistant Professor & Director Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program

Courses taught: TRN172

I would like to start this off by saying that yes, I was traumatized. No one who passed through any of the iterations of Trin One ever left unscathed. However, there was something inherently comforting about discussing both Mill and prostitution in the same breath, all under the watchful eye of the one and only Kessler. Maybe it was the earring, or the fact that he may or may not have had a traumatic divorce that shaped his view on the division of household responsibilities, or the biking to university, or the dog-fostering that we only found out about after leaving his class. What can I say – the man was an enigma. Not only did he firmly cement the importance of utilitarianism in my eyes, but also forced me to express my ideas within 1500 words (anathema to a future English major) in his famous essays (or Kessays, among my classmates) that he would penalize you three percent for getting in one minute late. A true academic rockstar within Trinity College (or at least that’s what it seemed like to me), Prof Kessler will always be the paradigm of what an unconventional, free-thinking university professor should look like and what higher education is all about.  I would honestly like to thank him for making me think long and hard about the simple and obvious in our society and for making my first year both interesting and terrifying. 

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