Cliff Arroyo made an interesting comment (because his comments always rule) that made me remember a funny story from my past as an undergraduate student:
I once had a supposed advanced intro-ish course taught by an excellent and insightful professor but rather than prepare the ground he zoomed right into the very latest hotness and we were all lost.
I remember a course like that when I was an undergrad. It was taught by a visiting star scholar from Spain. The course was on Golden Age drama. The star professor said at the beginning of the course, “I’m not going to analyze Calderón’s plays here, you’ve all read Life Is a Dream a hundred times, so it’s boring to keep talking about that. Instead, we’ll talk about the history of reception of these plays.”
That was the first time in my life I heard Calderón’s name, so I was absolutely terrified. Half of the people dropped the course immediately. The professor didn’t care because he is such a star that student evaluations or retention were of zero interest to him.
I, on the other hand, immediately ran to the library and spent the entire semester sleeping 4 hours a day, catching up on Golden Age drama. There were so many crucial works of literature from that era, and I had only been learning Spanish for 1,5 years by that time. Eventually, I wrote my MA dissertation on Calderón’s reception. But I’m a fanatic, and most students aren’t. Don’t we all wish we had a classroom full of our little clones to teach? Gosh, what wouldn’t I do with students like me!