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GOOD GOD! Lord Byron! I was just joking!

July 29, 2013

I just left the first faculty meeting of the new school year. Five or six months ago, I turned in a joke proposal for this semester’s literature class centered around the perversions of Lord Byron. I’ve submitted it before, and every time, the department chair guffawed and passed on it. I have never been serious about teaching such a class because my university is located in the Bible Belt (as opposed to other American regions such as the Rust Belt, the Borscht Belt, the Jello Belt, and the Sun Belt, among others), and I always expected someone to complain. (I admit that I allowed one of my literature classes to dwell on Byron until the end of the term solely because he was the only author who appealed to everybody. Well, okay, they liked to talk about his life more than his poetry. There were rousing student orations for and against the Good Lord).

Not this semester. We have a new Department Chair who hails from another state and whose Significant Other (the terms “husband” and “wife” are temporarily banned pending state legislation pertaining to gay marriage) is NOT a faculty member and who seems not to be one of those in-bred blue-bloods from an overly-expensive and undeservedly prestigious eastern university. Somehow, my Lord Byron proposal  found its way to her desk when the department came up short on its list of Comparative Literature classes. I’m having difficulty figuring out how my proposal could possibly fit the bill as Comp. Lit unless the Literature and Life of the Good Lord Byron fall into Cultural Studies or Gender Studies. In the classical sense, I am not qualified to teach Comp. Lit because I haven’t done much translation, and I’m not terribly familiar with literature from outside the English Speaking World. Many years ago, I taught a class on German Dadaist literature back when people still remembered the Beatles singing “Revolution” and the memory of burned draft cards still hung in the air. I introduced students poetry by Emmy Hennings, Johannes Becher, and other German writers and poets of the Dada Movement. That’s it.

When the Department Chair handed out the “finalized” list of courses to be offered this semester (for the benefit of the entire faculty, not to announce approval of the course. Approval was granted or denied months ago) I was  a bit surprised when I saw “The Life and Loves of Lord Byron: Beyond Polymorphous Perversion.” It caused an even greater stir among the Politically and Morally (but not Literally) Correct faculty, and the Professionally Gay professor was visibly miffed because he had planned (I imagine) a similar course that was rejected.

It is times such as this that I am quite thankful that I have made no enemies among the graduate faculty. (Forget the lecturers. The department changes lecturers more often than some faculty members change their underwear). I’ve gone to great lengths to maintain a low profile most of the time, so the bible thumpers among the faculty have nothing to complain about when my name comes up.

This course may just be the ticket for them. I have two more years before I retire. I just hope I make it.

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