University Diaries

University Diaries

A professor of English describes American university life.

June 23, 2010 - 3:48pm
The University of Kentucky, a public institution, used to hold the papers of that state's most esteemed living writer, Wendell Berry. But Berry, disgusted by the university's prostituting itself to the coal industry, pulled his papers last year. They will be housed someplace other than the house of ill-repute that UK has become.
June 11, 2010 - 9:22am
Because Leopold Bloom doesn't lie. He doesn't pretend he's Living Your Best Life Now! He's not self-actualized. He's not working on a glossy book celebrating The Spirit of Family.
May 7, 2010 - 6:29pm
"Medical school is the wrong place to train psychiatrists," writes Daniel Carlat in his new book, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry - A Doctor's Revelations About a Profession in Crisis.
April 25, 2010 - 8:01pm
Peter Porter, a poet born in Australia but resident mainly in England, has died, at 81. Here's one of his poems -- a poem about poetry, but also I think about art generally. this page insists that i explain myself This page insists that I explain myself my poems are over-structured, I am toldbut I’m only making good use of my brain
April 1, 2010 - 11:35am
"People seemed to run out of their own being," says Philip Roth's Nathan Zuckerman in American Pastoral, as he considers a privileged and seemingly fulfilled woman who lurches into self-destruction.
March 13, 2010 - 5:50pm
The laptop ban story has broken out of its narrow precincts. Articles on the subject used to cover the handful of American law schools with institution-wide bans, or the scattered professors in a variety of fields who independently ban them from their classrooms. But now the story has hit the big time.
March 5, 2010 - 8:30am
Automated Touchless Dispenser it says on the paper towel machine in the bathroom near my university office, and I sometimes think, as the mere nearness of me excites the machine's red light and white sheet, that its noli mi tangere message carries over pretty well to what's happening between professors and students these days. Teaching's becoming a germ-free, high-tech, extrusion of data. You can see students trying to acclimate to the chill.
February 22, 2010 - 9:15pm
Why [do] people who [know] Dr. Bishop only through reading about her crime make excuses for her? Jonathan D. Moreno, a professor of medical ethics and the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks reactions have to do with a long tradition that goes back to Plato. The idea, he said, is that someone who is very intelligent is assumed to be “morally wise.” And that makes it hard to reconcile the actions of Amy Bishop, with her Harvard Ph.D., her mantle of scientific brilliance.
February 13, 2010 - 4:01pm
Amy Bishop, a Harvard PhD, a wife and mother, a successful biology researcher, a University of Alabama professor whose students seem to admire her, took out a gun during a biology department meeting on the Huntsville campus yesterday, and shot everyone in sight. She killed three of her colleagues, including the department chair, and left three people (two professors, one administrator) in critical condition. Police arrived within seconds and took her into custody within minutes. Within hours, her apparent motive emerged: Denial of tenure.
January 28, 2010 - 9:29pm
A short story can never be too rich or too thin. J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day for Bananafish - its three tight-fitted scenes packed with sentiment and suggestion - is the Babe Paley of short stories. It's effortlessly, agelessly elegant. You pay a visit to Bananafish after being away from it for twenty years, and the way it puts its sweetness, hilarity, and horror together still feels like the latest thing.

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