Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Under the influence

It's true what conservatives say: we college professors exert a dangerous influence over our students.

Walking into class today, I was hailed by a student who had taken Shakespeare with me last semester, but whom I'd known only slightly. After a moment or two of how-was-your-summer chit-chat, she held up her inside right wrist to show me the tattoo emblazoned there: MEMENTO MORI.

"That day you brought in the skull?" She said. "And wrote this on the board? That really stuck with me."

So there you have it: I inspire students to deface their bodies and meditate on death. And I couldn't be more proud.

18 comments:

enablingfiction (blog defunct) said...

I (re-)discovered your blog randomly by typing in something ridiculous ("Who needs a Miltonist?") into Google.

By the way, I was at the same conference in London. Not sure how I feel about it--I found it at once very fun and productive and demoralizing.

Hmm. Somehow this attempt at an online greeting sounds creepy.

Thoroughly Educated said...

I, too, have had students get tatoos as a result of their classes with me. ("Wyrd", in this case.) I'm not sure I can really shoulder that responsibility. I think I'd rather not know.

Flavia said...

TE: That's awesome. We should form a club.

EF: You know, I saw that search in my stats the other day and was curious about it. I'm guessing that I know who you are, just by name and by sight--I saw someone who might have been you, close enough for nametag reading, and noted that said person taught at an institution where a good grad school friend of mine--also an Early Modernist--recently started teaching, and almost introduced myself. (Also, hell: young people were scarce on the ground at that conference, and I had a weird sense that it my duty to get to know all those who were. . . a sense that was tempered, however, by my desire not to seem like a crazy person.)

So yeah. Now I'm the creepy stalker. But if that sounds like it might be you, feel free to drop an email.

neo said...

I loff you.

... That's all.

Renaissance Girl said...

Probably you shouldn't teach Titus Andronicus.

medieval woman said...

I think that needs an entirely separate section on your CV.

e. fiction said...

Good god, I forgot all about stats and tracking hits. "Who needs a Miltonist" is weird enough, but I sure am glad I didn't type in something gross like "Milton + skimpy lingerie."

Sisyphus said...

I can only aspire to such heights of student corruption. Nevertheless, I will continue to work at it!

Doctor Cleveland said...

I like to think of Flavia as leading a tribe of highly literate bikers.

Skull tattoos for all!

life_of_a_fool said...

that's awesome. I agree with M.W.- add that to your cv! :)

Flavia said...

RG: now that's something to aspire to.

Later, during the class's 10-15 minutes of student introductions, the woman in question showed off and explained her tattoo. I saw looks of bafflement and vague concern on several faces--as if trying to figure out what weird cult of personality they'd accidentally signed up for.

hck said...

Great posting! Thanks! I linked to it (with some comments) over at
http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/W4RF/YaBB.pl?num=1219822557/#1

I don't know whether I should envy those teaching on Shakespeare, or just rest in awe, and consider myself that I don't teach on Shakespeare ... [:-)] ... .

Meansomething said...

Fabulous, fabulous story.

When I went to AWP last year, I collected pencils and trinkets from the book fair for my workshop students. By far the most popular souvenirs were the temporary tattoos handed out at the Kenyon Review booth: a little drawing of a skull with the words "Write Hard, Die Free." Maybe some university press will make up "Memento Mori" temporary tattoos to hand out at this year's MLA!

Tenured Radical said...

Maybe I'll get Carpe Diem tattooed on my forehead......

TR

Pamphilia said...

I am, like, so totally jealous. My students don't get tatoos, or piercings or slash their tee-shirts. It's a J., J. Crew world, down here in the south. Did I mention I was jealous?

Pamphilia said...

PS Can I have your tattooed students come and be my material texts when we cover Juliet Fleming's chapter in my Renaissance poetry show-and-tell class?

Flavia said...

P: you betcha!

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