As many of my readers know, I am a fan of the late Christopher Lasch. Here is a taste of Margaret Soltan’s description of an encounter she had with Lasch in the early 1980s:
I had glancing, and wounding, encounters with Christopher Lasch in the early ‘eighties. He was a close friend of an old boyfriend of mine, and when I moved to Rochester, New York, I went with an introduction to Lasch from the boyfriend. “I’ve told Kit you’re there,” he’d said to me. “Give him a call. He’s expecting it.”
Yet although I taught part-time at Lasch’s university – the University of Rochester – I didn’t call. Lasch seemed a pretty cold fish, and I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that. Rochester, a city I was eager to leave within weeks of settling there, was chilly enough.
But we were both members of a faculty discussion group (I can’t recall the subject of our discussions; they took place at various faculty homes, including the beautiful farmhouse of Perez Zagorin), so we eventually met.
During our first social exchange, I mentioned to Lasch that I also taught part-time at a rather parochial local college whose students weren’t very impressive, but that the experience was “good for me.”
“Well,” Lasch hit back, eyes cold, “that’s one way of looking at it.”
Meaning Talk about the culture of narcissism! Why not think about whether it’s good for your students, instead of thinking about yourself all the time?
But I didn’t mean good for me in that way at all.
Maybe I didn’t phrase it as well as I might have. I didn’t mean Who cares about the students; I’m getting some teaching experience out of it for my resume.I meant nothing like that at all.
Read the entire piece, including a quote from Eric Miller’s recent award-winning biography of Lasch, here.
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