Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut on English studies

Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage (New York: Delacorte, 1981).

Ouch.

comments: 10

Geo-B said...

Well, the "what's your major?" take on "Howl," a unique approach.

Elaine said...

Yeah.

Stefan said...

It hurts, doesn't it? It's hard to grin approvingly when he takes a dig at the folks in the Education department, only to duck when he takes aim at us. But I'm glad you're enjoying Palm Sunday (or at least I think you are).

Michael Leddy said...

For the record, Herbert Huncke was not an English major. William Burroughs was a Harvard man.

Stefan, yes, I’m enjoying the book.

Michael Leddy said...

Neal Cassady: also not an English major.

normann said...

In defense of the English departments, faculty and grad students I have been in contact with over the years, I must say I did not find them to be especially worthy of a dunce cap, but maybe that's because they were - and are - largely, though not exclusively, medievalists.

However, the characterization of what a fellow Germanist calls "pedagologers" is spot on. Who but an "educationist" would sniffily oppose actual foreign language courses intended to fulfill a foreign language requirement on the grounds that they are - wait for it - "skills courses"? As well they might be: German and the Scandinavian languages use the cognate of English "can" to mean to know how to do, including to speak, understand and possibly read a language, because doing so is, er, a - skill. Er kann nicht Deutsch, Jeg kan norsk - "He does not know German," "I know Norwegian" - well enough to speak, understand and read them.

As Anna Russell said, though in a different context, "I'm not making this up, you know..."

Michael Leddy said...

Norman, thank you for supporting English folk. Your account of language-rejection reminds me of a story I heard yesterday about a library not wanting to add books. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Funny, gut reaction,
Curt as curt can be;
He issued no retraction
Consequentially.
Slaughter? How's that crass
To speak such words so sharp?
In education'n English,
One often finds just carp.

Barnaby Capel-Dunn said...

As you know: those who can, do; those who can't, teach. And, most wounding of all for the likes of me: those who can't teach, translate...

Anonymous said...

Adage is as adages' words
Which leaning lean to slant.
Those who can, they can,
And those who can't, they cant;
That last verb's apostrophic,
Meaning those who can't do rant.
Funny gut writ oh-so large
But curt his studied words;
One writes sometimes overlarge
To graze the grazing herds.