--Intentionally painting with a broad brush here. There have been and still are splendid professors of literature. I studied with a couple of them.
Professors of Literature
They don't love books so much
as covet them, jealous of students
who want casual affairs with novels
or poems. They imagine themselves
to be dead authors' agents, lawyers,
conjurers, explainers, personal friends,
stunt-doubles: "indispensable." They
behave like security-officers prowling
canons and eras.
They tend to hate themselves, each
other, and simple questions. They
dislike students except for the ones
they collect like figurines. They
make stuff up about books and
poems but aren't imaginative.
They hate to teach rhetoric, which
is a real education, as those Greeks
and Romans knew. They excrete
things to quibble about and catch
arrogance like the flu. They love
to speak in codes of theory about
theories of codes, but they always
forget to bring evidence along.
They hate writers.
Too many are small, nasty packages
of wasted thought. A fair percentage
are bullies, also lunatics obsessed
by light-bulbs they mistake for the moon.
Their parties are no fun, are a kind of
humorless hell, though cackling can
be heard, as is the case with hazing.
They treat secretaries and
waitresses like shit. The
truth is, universities wouldn't miss
them much if they were to run off
like rabid dogs, the circuits of
their narcissism finally fried.
Creative Commons License Hans Ostrom