May 03, 2008

Spelling and Subversiveness

If you spent much time avoiding real work on the internet last week, you probably came across the story of Priya Venkatesan, the postmodern-ish Dartmouth writing instructor who sent a series of bizarre emails threatening to sue her undergraduate students for writing unfavorable evaluations, disagreeing with her in class, and, it seems, for just being all-around jerks.

She seems to have decided to drop the idea of suing the students between parts 1 and 2 of this interview in the Dartmouth Review's weblog. Maybe that's the last we'll hear of her, though she is, apparently, planning to produce an Ignatius Reilly-ish book-length indictment against our century that will "name names."

As the interview indicates, it should be a hell of a read. Here's a bit describing a classroom conspiracy. Dramatis personae include a disruptive student referred to as "Girl X," the aggrieved professor (PV,) and Tom Cormen, the chairman of the writing program:

PV:One of the things that she did, this is also really interesting, was that she would always ask me how to spell things. That was her thing. She would say how to do you spell this? How to you spell that? I mean—what am I supposed to do?—so I would tell her. One time Tom Cormen was sitting in the class, and she asked me, how many T’s are in Gattaca. This was the kind of question she was asking, “how many T’s are in Gattaca?,” and I was about to answer her and Tom Cormen pre-empted me, “two t’s.” I’ll leave you to interpret it.

TDR: No. No, I don’t understand that.

PV: I have to tell you: it means tenure track.

TDR: Oh, okay.

PV: Because I wasn’t tenured track.

TDR: Oh, okay, yes.

PV: They were trying to intimate that I wasn’t ready for tenure track.

TDR: Yes, okay, I didn’t realize that’s what that meant.

PV: I’m kind of making this leap because this is the kind of subversiveness that was going on in that environment. That [girl x] would ask how many t’s are in Gattaca and that Tom Cormen would respond, “two T’s” as if I had no grasp on tenure track. ..but with [girl x], something’s going on with her. I’m not a doctor, but she’s not all there.

Posted by Dr. Frank at May 3, 2008 07:17 AM | TrackBack

That chick is possibly from the moon. Thanks for just wasting 45+ minutes of my life

Posted by: buckeye bill at May 3, 2008 07:47 PM

I can't believe I almost missed this. Thanks.

Posted by: josh at May 4, 2008 12:50 PM

Yes, definitely nutty-sounding. One guy steps up to defend her; he sounds pretty nutty too.

Commenter "Larry" has posted a lengthy essay by a Larry Buttrose (no sniggering in the back, there, you disrespectful fascist demagogues!) which essentially blames Theory for the war in Iraq and Intelligent Design. If literature students weren't spending so much time trying to crack the Theory Code, they would've thwarted the evil designs of the Right. Rove, you magnificent bastard!

Posted by: Angie Schultz at May 5, 2008 03:17 AM