Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Plus He Had Donned A Helluva Hat:" HIstory Cross-Blogging at Zenith

I almost never admit that I spy on my students, and it is actually very rare that I invade student space of any kind. But this I cannot resist. It is just too funny, and it reminds me – other than Tony Grafton’s students expressing their fear that Tony’s head will fall off some day in class and crush them – why teaching is fun and teaching history among intelligent students is funnier.



Zenith has just appointed its sixteenth President, in anticipation of Mr. Big’s retirement this summer, someone who is (like President Big) a distinguished white man, a trained historian and an alumnus of the university. Unlike Big, he is also a pretty distinguished scholar, as far as I can tell (Big’s pre-Zenith accomplishments were more in the public sphere.) Naturally, most faculty I know are burrowing around on New President's cv and on Google to try to anticipate where he will stand on every policy and intellectual issue the university faces at this juncture so that they can fulminate more completely when the time comes to let him know that he is *not* in charge. ("You may be a full professor now," Extravaganza once said, "But you are not full professor of me!") But the students, in typical Zenith fashion, have cut right to the heart of things, as they usually do, in their response to New President. I clipped the following from a Zenith student blog (with appropriate edits):

anonymous said...
at least this guy graduated in the 70s…he might be a little more helpful in keeping Zenith Zenith.

anonymous said...
Plus he's the 16th president, kinda like Lincoln. So he's got that going for him.

anonymous said...
'cause it totally worked out for Lincoln, being assassinated and all.

anonymous said...
if Lincoln wasn't assassinated he would have been impeached within months.

anonymous said...
Habeas *what?*

anonymous said...
Lincoln's presidency isn't necessarily noted for his assassination or potential impeachment. Whatever his intentions, he did have a hand in the whole ending of slavery thing. And he was handsome, kind of.
Go New President?

anonymous said...
plus he had donned a hell of a hat.

………………………………

This is the kind of thing that causes me to giggle on and off for the rest of the day. I guess I am a committed academic after all because I cannot imagine another sphere where it is possible to make a decent salary and eavesdrop on witty young people at the same time.

8 comments:

Horace said...

That's awesome...In London this week with the undergrads, I'm getting a kind of fly-on-the-wall experience of similar sorts. Most they are gossiping about my colleagues, though, which my discouragement only seems to egg on. Mostly, they're right, though. Heh. Funny about those twenty-somethings.

Clio Bluestocking said...

That is hilarious! What a great riff!

anthony grafton said...

yup yup yup, what Radical said

undine said...

Hilarious. But what's this about Anthony Grafton's students fearing that his head will fall off?

undine said...

Oops--never mind; I saw the answer in the comments to the previous post. That'll teach me to post before reading it all.

Anonymous said...

haha i wrote that (hat comment)!

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