August 19, 2005

The August Academic of the

The August Academic of the Month

As darn near everyone who frequents Al Gore’s World-Wide Web recognizes, dear reader, our Academic of the Month program has been a smashing success. If we must say so ourselves—and it appears as if we must—our humble attempt to laud the pedagogical and scholarly achievements of a professor each month has warmed the hearts of many a fusty pedant. Or at least two.

In the two months since we’ve founded the program, we’ve had the opportunity to praise two marvelous examples of tenured radicalism. Accordingly, in August, we aim to praise a fellow who has yet to earn tenure. And yet, if his “website” is any indication of his academic credentials, this fellow will become an associate professor faster than you can say Stanley Fish.

A friendly reader of this humble “weblog”—who preferred to remain anonymous although possessing a perfectly reasonable name—sent us word about a professor humorously called Chidsey Dickson. We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are proud as peacocks to proclaim Chidsey Dickson, Ph.D., our official August Academic of the Month.

And what, you may or may not be asking yourself, makes Mr. Dickson a prime example of intellectual fortitude? We’re collectively glad you asked, dear reader.

Mr. Dickson teaches in the English Department at Lynchburg College. Frankly, dear reader, we’d never heard of Lynchburg, but it seems to be an expensive liberal arts school in Virginia. Kind of like a déclassé version of Wheaton College. Or Marlboro College, only menthol.

Anyway, as one should certainly expect from an Academic of the Month in an English department, Mr. Dickson seems utterly unacquainted with the basics of English grammar. As his personal “webpage” at Lynchburg demonstrates, the man is congenitally incapable of composing a sentence that isn’t littered with solecisms.

Why, just try a few of these on for size:

Ethics, for me, is the relational aspect of any social practice, so it’s different from morality, a private code of rules to live by.

Great to see that Mr. Dickson blithely ends sentences with prepositions, isn’t it? We certainly hope that he passes on his writing skills to his students.

Technology—you know what that is—any artifact that shapes our experience of ourselves and the world: mall architecture, fashion, Xerox machines, computers, music, food, cars…basically everything!

Uh, Professor Dickson, this isn’t a sentence. There’s no main clause. Come on, buddy; you’re coasting.

These are folks who, say, don’t just argue a point but ponder what it means to persuade through evidential reasoning (or base trickery), who consider what does it feel like to “argue” in different media, in different “voices”?

Oh, dear. This one’s just a sloppy mess.

But wait, dear reader, it gets more delicious. Guess what Mr. Dickson teaches. We’ll let him tell you himself, in his own inimitable prose, no less: “Basically, as a writing teacher, I’ve been trying to prepare people to handle themselves in situations in the real world that require more complexity and subtlety than, say, a Pro/Con debate….”

Just smashing, isn’t it? Mr. Dickson, who appears to be a functional illiterate, has been entrusted by the geniuses at Lynchburg College with teaching writing to its students. Sounds reasonable enough, eh? Perhaps the folks at Lynchburg have made Stevie Wonder the chair of the Optometry Department.

As you must expect by now, dear reader, Mr. Dickson doesn’t much care for teaching his students the fine points of grammar. As he delightfully puts it: “I really don’t think that, when it comes to literacy training, the ‘tried n’ true’ will suffice.”

So, what will suffice? Perhaps his dissertation topic offers some guidance. Mr. Dickson informs us that it “was about how college writing courses can and should include a focus on everyday texts (including fashion, tv and décor).” In addition, our loveable English professor writes that “Many of my writing classes have a service learning component.”

Well, that’s just peachy. The parents of Lynchburg College students have the privilege of shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars per annum to make sure that they are reading Jane magazine and working in a soup kitchen, instead of learning how to write. What a bargain.

Still, we must admit that the Good Doctor’s “webpage” offered a hilarious bit of unintentional humor: “I am a bonified [sic] member of the MLA (Modern Language Association) and NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English).” “Bonified,” eh? How learned! We wonder who turned Mr. Dickson into a bone.

For all the reasons mentioned above, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are happy to call the humorously named Chidsey Dickson our Official August Academic of the Month.

Posted at August 19, 2005 12:01 PM | TrackBack