Friday, September 24, 2010

The People You Meet in Grad School: Part 6

This is my first TPYMIGS post since May, but now that another Fall semester is in full swing, another installment of this series is definitely necessary. Up to this point, I've limited my TPYMIGS posts strictly to fellow students. I decided it was finally time to give some of my professors my acknowledgments, which spawned TPYMIGS number six:

6. The Entirely Too Quirky Professor

We have absolutely all had them. The professor that most certainly can NOT be from this planet, because nobody from this planet could possibly find it in their mental capacity to get that enthusiastic about Elizabethan love poetry or the life and times of George Eliot.

let's be honest. no one cares.

But just as soon as you resign yourself to that assumption, the Quirky Professor waltzes into English 750 or Philosophy 600 or whatever it is you're taking, decked out in a wrong-decade-looking or otherwise awkward outfit, looking around at the room in a bewildered way, as if they haven't a clue as to what the hell these 20-somethings are all doing in their classroom.

Once they get over this initial unexplained academic shellshock, they are FIRED UP about you being in their class and about their subject matter. However, there is a divide at work here. Things can go in one of two directions with the Quirky Professor. They are either Endearing and Hilarious Quirky, or Caustic and Demeaning Quirky.

The professor that is on the positive side of this stereotype is more or less friends with his or her students. This is the professor that everyone wishes they had as their adviser and that you run into at a random pint night on a Tuesday. While it is obvious they have been buried in the world of Academia for a very long time, they are still at least trying to make efforts to be real people.

They are usually sarcastic (in the best of ways), and attempt to make jokes about John Milton or Judith Butler or some other uber-nerdy-intellectual subject that isn't actually funny at all, but you want to carry them around in your purse like a toy poodle just for even trying.

The positive Quirky Professor actually utters phrases like "Holy Toledo!" and has an awesomely blended combination of modesty and doesn't-take-themselves-too-seriously.

They have a comprehensive handle of their content knowledge, peppered with all the right amounts of failed-but-precious jokes, nonsensical offhand comments, and colorful anecdotes from their weird-ass personal lives to make their classes truly enjoyable.

And then there is the other side of the spectrum: the Caustic and Demeaning Quirky Professor.

If this is a male professor, he is usually older and it is clear that he was tormented in high school or suffered some other kind of trauma at the hands of his peers somewhere down the line. Sympathy is not required, however, as this torment was obviously due to a very abrasive combination of massive arrogance and excessive nerd-dom, and he is now taking out 20 years of repressed angst on you and your classmates.

He is so engrossed in his subject area that he has completely forgotten what real human interaction is, and has instead replaced it with sarcasm that is either only understood by him or that is incredibly insulting to students in some way.

This is the type of professor that is so impossibly nerdy, and at the same time so impossibly cocky, that you are genuinely astonished if you find out he is married or lives any life other than that of a crotchety, solitary hermit, surrounded by his academic journals and inflated self-love.

You experience a fleeting excitement on the first day of his class, because he has mentioned Lord of the Rings so many times that you are already able to start a running tally of his LotR allusions. This is very short lived though, as it becomes clear almost immediately that despite his seemingly awesome obsession with Middle Earth and Tolkien-lore, this guy is a giant bag of douche.

If the Caustic and Demeaning Quirky Professor is a female, she usually tends to wear so much bangle-y jewelry that she creates her own little soundtrack as she walks around the room, offering up her "comments" on your work, which are really just thinly veiled insults that she issues to establish how much smarter than you she is.

She is almost always, without fail, a raging feminist, hellbent on showing the patriarchal Academic world that she and her vagina are just as capable and knowledgeable as Dr. Phallus down the hall there.

If you are a female student of hers who happens to NOT share in this radical, we-must-castrate view of men, you might as well drop her class. You are chicken shit. You might as well have sprouted a penis and time traveled back to the days of pre-suffrage for your crime against the feminine race.

right. because THAT's attractive...

Possibly stemming from her uber-feminism, this negative version of the Quirky Professor also has a massive superiority complex. If she is an Education professor, this means starting every. single. goddamn. sentence with "In MY classroom..." and then proceeding to bore you for the next 10 minutes with how something she did when she was in a non-college classroom 50 years ago was the greatest, most messianic teaching method that a group of high schoolers had ever seen.

In a non-Education class, this superiority complex bares its fangs in other forms, such as the Quirky Professor loving the sound of her disdain-filled voice too much to ever dare let students speak or participate, or through asking near-impossible questions that she knows her students won't know the answer to, and letting the crickets chirp their symphonies as she smugly glares around the room waiting for one of them to produce a (wrong) answer that she can then pompously correct.

anyone...anyone....? ..bueller?

If you've been lucky enough to have some Hilarious and Endearing Quirky Professors, you've probably signed up for subsequent courses of theirs, even if it was called "You Will Hate Your Life 700" or some otherwise ominous course title. You'll take your chances.

If you've had the Caustic and Demeaning QP, rest assured, my friend, we all have. At the very least, you and your classmates can bond over your mutual hatred and vent about him/her at pint night.

In the classes I'm in with particularly Quirky Professors, I like to keep running logs of entertaining shit that comes out of their mouths during class, and I'm hoping to compile them into a blog in the near future. So, stay tuned.



  1. I'd suck as a professor, because I'd never want to come in, or just come in with a flask.

  2. hello from mexico you are a beutiful woman and a great fan from star wars i hope can be my friend my mail is


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