First, what I miss: the kinds of conversational bits relayed by Dean Dad and his readers (the comments are amazingly funny). A sample:
Male student #1 – “I’m not going in there today, that A.H. expects you to read the assignment before class.”
Female student #1 -“Yeah, he’s such a sh*%, told me to stop talking on my cellphone during class because it distracts everyone else – screw them I paid my tuition.”
Male student #2 – “Hey, just go to ratemprofessors.com and give he a bad rating – that will even things up.”
And what I don’t miss: the kerfluffle over Reading Lolita in Tehran, started by Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi’s attacks on author Azar Nafisi.
Essentially, Dabashi is playing Edward Said to Nafisi’s V. S. Naipaul, accusing her of advancing the Orientalist Project (TM) and producing a book in the service of “the most deranged Oriental fantasies of a nation already petrified out of its wits by a ferocious war waged against the phantasmagoric Arab/Muslim male potency that has just castrated the two totem poles of U.S. empire in New York.” (Ah, the stringent clarity of academic prose.) But Slate’s Gideon Lewis-Krauss contends:
The truth is that Dabashi’s skepticism about the merit of Nafisi’s much-admired book isn’t entirely off the mark. The book’s failure, however, is not political—as Dabashi insists—but literary….
Rather than reading Nafisi’s well-intentioned book, however, as a mostly inoffensive and well-marketed literary trifle—he is, after all, a professor of literature—Dabashi insists on seeing it as political perfidy….
In the end, Dabashi must conspire with Nafisi to make the book more important that it is: The besieged Nafisi gets to preserve her fantasy that removing her veil to read Austen in her home was not only therapeutically powerful but politically noble, and Dabashi gets to preserve his fantasy that criticizing Nafisi makes him a usefully engaged intellectual.
Ah, the examined life….