Reviving The State of the Profession

ADE Bulletin 122 (Spring 1999)

MLA jokes have proliferated like ethnic ones with the exception that the literature and language professors are the ones making fun of themselves. Such comical self-loathing may tell us something about why our profession is in the state it is. But first, a joke. On the streets of San Francisco outside the MLA convention, a nattily dressed English professor passes a homeless man who asks him for a handout. The professor looks the homeless man up and down and proclaims, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Before resuming his journey he punctuates his message with “William Shakespeare.” As he takes his next step, the homeless man responds, “Screw you!,” followed by his own punctuated signature, “David Mamet.”

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