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A persistent myth in departments of English posits a golden age when tweedy English professors humanized the world with thrice-weekly doses of literary instruction, exchanged witty conversation and recondite literary allusions at the Friday afternoon sherry hour, and generally agreed with each other about which books to teach, how to teach them, and the importance of teaching them. This golden age must have ended right before I entered the field. My whole history within the discipline suggests that getting English professionals to agree in large numbers about almost anything is nearly as difficult as herding cats or training king cobras to hiss the "Hallelujah Chorus" in four-part harmony.


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