One of my departments (English) has shorter seminars than the other, by a full hour. Since I was originally appointed solely in English and therefore taught my first five or so seminars as 2 hour seminars (really 1 hour 50 minutes), I never really noticed. This was until I taught a seminar in Communication, where they are 2 hours, 50 minutes, which is by my sights more standard. Now that I'm in my first short seminar following my first long one, I feel quite pressed for time.
Last year when we were doing teaching requests, I noticed that the request form in English had the option to pop the seminar out to 3 hours. But knowing that this would cause logistical problems for the English grads--namely mine would overlap with the two hour seminar now slated for just before mine--and also asking myself "why would I work an extra hour? Why would the grad students want to sit there for an extra hour?" I opted not to do it. But I'm having some regrets.
Two hours might well be enough if the class had 7 or 8 medium talkers plus me. But this one has fifteen enrolled plus me, and I do believe that everyone said something yesterday, which is kind of awesome on its own, but we it also meant that we spent, like, an hour on the first line if the Rhetoric.
And then there's the problem of whether or not to break. Last week we motored right through the break, but yesterday we took a quick, four-minute break, even though we were kind of steaming ahead right about then. And a few students even stayed around during the break and we sort of continued having class, talking about the ancient legal system and how we need to give the sophists a little love (I promise! We will!), which was quite cool but also a little strange. Oh well. It's a good problem to have--too much interesting stuff to discuss, too many smart people to discuss it all, not enough time--but I'm definitely thinking that 3 hours might have been preferable.
I'd love to hear what folks think about the issue, including anyone who knows the institutional history of these seminar lengths, and especially grad student takes on one or the other, on class pacing, etc. Yesterday, it did seem a bit like conversational double dutch, which I find energizing, but I imagine it can be frustrating for others.