[lit-ideas] Re: It's gone quiet

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 21:02:38 -0700

On Mar 31, 2008, at 8:17 PM, Robert Paul wrote:

One serious observation. With respect to Harvard, Princeton, Brown, and possibly American University, it is simply false that professors are available outside their idiosyncratic office hours to talk with undergraduates. One of the draws for faculty at such places is that you don't have to teach much unless you want to. Even the famous large lecture courses that some super stars voluntarily teach, rely on graduate assistants to do the grading and to lead the 'discussion sections.' Undergraduates, especially in the first year may see such famous people, but only in the strict sense of 'see'—walking from limousine to library, perhaps.

At Brown we were told that X, who is world famous in his field and seventy years old, lectures to several hundred students and, "if you ask he question, he comes bounding up the stairs, shakes your hand, remembers your name for the rest of the semester."

No paper chasing there.

Does anyone know the history of walking backwards? Where did it start? How did it become the universal norm of college visits?

Perhaps I should explain to the baffled British on the list that when, as a prospective student, you visit an American campus, the admissions people shepherd you into an "information [read propaganda] session" and then deliver you into the orbit of celestial body who walks backwards while telling you all the names of the buildings you are passing, also that the food is good.

David Ritchie,
remembering how much tugging of the forelock was involved when he chose where to study,
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