Confessions of a Sleazy English Professor

  • I’ve had tenure for awhile now, but I’ve only recently found the courage to teach my “Graphic Novels as Literature” course. And by “Graphic Novels as Literature,” I mean a couple old issues of Amazing Spider-Man I found in my basement, where Spider-Man fights the Hulk, and then they team up and beat the #$@% out of Dr. Octopus.
  • One time I told a student that I would give him a letter of reference, but all I sent was a drawing of a stick man with his head on fire.
  • If a student essay has a pun in the title, I’ll give it an A without even reading it.
  • Sometimes when I’m lecturing I pretend to go back to my laptop to check my notes, but it’s really just playing old episodes of Seinfield with the sound off and subtitles turned on.
  • If a student I don’t like tries to use literary theory, no matter what they say, and no matter how insightful it is, I will just tell them something like, “No no, that’s not what ______ meant; go back and re-read _____.” The thing is, most of the time I haven’t read whatever text I’m talking about either, and I’m just bullshitting. But who’s going to question me?
  • At a bar one time this med student was talking about her heavy workload, so I said, wistfully, “Ah, if we had but world enough and time.” And she was like, “Oh, is that Jane Austen?” And I was like, “Uh, yeah, sure, baby. Can I buy you a drink?” (She said no.)
  • One time a student asked me for help understanding “The Death of the Author.” I didn’t feel like getting into it, so I just said, “Oh, he was just talking about Dickens. So Charles Dickens, the author, is dead. That’s all you need to know.” He said, “What? How does that help? I thought this was an important essay.” And I replied, “Well, jeez, kid. Just keep it in mind next time you read Hard Times.”
  • I have mastered the art of asking leading questions whenever I don’t know the material well enough to kill 50 minutes with lecture.
  • The thing about proper MLA style and formatting is that undergrads never get it completely right. So I can dock basically as many points as I want for improper style, depending on how much I like a particular student.
  • I dock participation points if anyone comes to my office hours when I’m in the middle of watching my soaps. I’ve pirated every episode of Days of Our Lives.
  • Speaking of participation marks: I don’t actually keep track. Everybody gets an A, except that I dock points for really random things I decide on before class. It’s like a drinking game, except it’s my students’ futures which are at stake.
  • I routinely go to informal book clubs and offer really messed up but convincing interpretations of whatever book is being discussed.
  • One time I realized that I basically had three quarters of the varsity football team in my Intro to English Lit class. I failed all of them so that they were ineligible to play in the championship game. Obviously, this was after I bet $20,000 on the other team.
  • I switched the focus of my research to the nineteenth-century novel because I’m cheap and pretty much every nineteenth-century novel worth studying is available for free from Project Gutenberg.
  • My favourite book is the novelization of Star Wars: Episode III. It’s like a Shakespearian tragedy and a medieval romance, all in one. Except it’s in space, and the swords are made of lasers. I tried explaining that to Harold Bloom once, but I don’t think he was paying attention.
  • One easy way to I like to use to kill class time: I assign a really easy, enjoyable novel, but then I tell the class that what it’s really about is the author’s unconscious obsession with bestiality. Then I open things up for debate.
  • I go to conferences basically so I can get shitfaced in hotel rooms with other scholars whom I’ll only see a few weekends a year. Then the next morning I wander around, hungover, trying to score free books.
  • I always write positive reviews for other scholarly books because I want people to like me.
  • My favourite class of the year is always the discussion seminar where I assign a random John Donne poem and say, “Okay, now let’s find all the sex jokes.”
  • For $95,000 I ghost-wrote Clive Cussler’s last three novels.
  • Old Marty Spellman’s wife told me that she was tired of being married to an English professor. That’s why I told her I was an astronaut before I tried to get her to sleep with me.
  • Yeah, of course I’ve read War and Peace. But I sure as hell don’t remember the character names or what happened. Denisov something something Russia blah blah.
  • None of my colleagues know this, but I’ve written a six-volume analysis of the Battlestar Galactica TV show remake. I haven’t published it because I don’t want anyone to think I’m crazy. The sixth volume just contains slow-cooker recipes you could use if the Earth were destroyed and we all lived on space ships.
  • The last book I published was only 104 pages and the only edition ever printed costs $87.00. Initially, it only sold eight copies‚ until I worked out a deal with a friend in California in which we both assign each other’s textbooks. Now my book makes me a pretty nice chunk of change, but all its reviews on Amazon are really negative ones from students who couldn’t afford the book in the first place.
  • I convinced the government to give me $38,000 to spend next summer in England researching Sir Walter Scott’s private letters and manuscripts. All the materials I mentioned in my grant proposal are available for free on the Internet, but the government doesn’t know that.
  • I once wrote an epic social realist novel about class struggle, except that on the last page the narrator reveals that all the characters are bees, and when they “talk,” they’re really just doing their bee dance.
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