Thursday, August 3, 2006

What not to wear: Back-to-school edition

I find myself shifting among various personae with regard to dress. Sometimes I want to feel my connection to the late sixties, to the radical politics that inspired me as a student. I wear jeans on those days, and sometimes even dig an old blue work shirt from the closet. I also have a few billowing shirts like those worn by Russian peasants, and I wear these whenever I lecture on Walt Whitman, considering them as a kind of teaching aid. Whenever I lecture on T.S. Eliot, I try for a more formal manner of dress. Eliot, after all, was a London publisher by profession, and he favored traditional suits with a bowler hat and rolled umbrella as accessories. Last year when teaching The Waste Land I put on an old pinstripe, and it felt right in that context. For the most part, I find myself most comfortable in something from the L.L. Bean catalogue.

Jay Parini, The Art of Teaching (New York, Oxford University Press, 2005)
Ah, academia.

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