Wednesday, June 15, 2022


Professors and Clods

Andrew T. Weil, "Joshua Whatmough," Harvard Crimson (May 3, 1963):
To observe the forms of his eccentricity one might listen to him lecture in Linguistics 100 ("Language"), impressively described in the catalogue of courses as dealing with such topics as the "Theory of Communication," "Language and the Nature of Man," "Language and Literature," and so forth. Actually, when Professor Whatmough lectures in Linguistics 100, he dispenses with these problems in thirty minutes. The rest of the hour gives him a chance to hold forth on everything that he feels needs speaking out against. He does this in the most elegantly precise English to be heard in Cambridge and often illustrates his points with Latin or Greek quotations which he clearly expects his listeners to understand. His manner of delivery varies with his subject. He can be quietly incisive ("A professor should be a person, not a clod. The whole system of Ph.D.'s in certain fields tends to turn professors into clods. I do not have a Ph.D.") or, if the situation demands, violently destructive ("Linguistics has much to offer psychology; psychology has nothing to offer linguistics. And that nothing is wrong.") Certain issues (whether anyone has the right to control what professors say in classes, for one) turn him purple with rage — invariably an awesome transformation. And when it is all over, Whatmough smiles, adjusts his cornflower, takes up his walking stick and leaves the lecture room contented.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?