Annette Kolodny is a famous professor of American literature. This is an e-mail to my mentor Annamaria Formichella Elsden, also a professor of Am. Lit.
I thought you may be interested in my interaction with a certain Professor of
American Literature. I have just Googled Dr. Kolodny, as well as perused some
of her published works, and I must say that I am astounded that the woman who
admits freely to frail health and a "lack of an immune system" due to her
medication for the treatment of her "debilitating" rheumatoid arthritis is the
same woman on paper as the one I see before me every Wednesday night from 4
until 7, in a course entitled, "The Texts that Changed American Literature."
Today's class came to be defined by a conflict between getting to know students
and talking about appropriation, iconography and what another grad student
called ideology (Kolodny seems to not favor the word). We are covering Bradford
and the Plymouth Plantation, as well as Puritan theology. Professor Kolodny
opted for focusing on the subject matter, not the students, to my dismay, as I
like to make myself present via the voice.
She noted in class that "Calvin made a new theology, but Luther didn't." I asked
her about this after class shortly, and she has requested that we begin the
next class with a little debate about this. Of course, I would challenge such a
statement, because obviously Luther made the "faith alone" (sole fide) argument
well before John Calvin ("Geneva's favorite Elect!". So, this will be my extra
homework for the weekend.
Professor Kolodny certainly loves studying American folklore/mythology-type
stuff (her most recent article from 2003 is on that topic, but you probably
read it in _American Literature_). She explains things to us as if we were
glorified undergraduates unfamiliar with major American texts, tho' without a
trace of patronization. And I think that that tone and information level is
good. What's the last time you read about ol' Dimmesdale and Hester? I read it
Professor Kolodny, who requires a cane to walk, told our class that she is
Jewish, and therefore thinks Protestantism "weird" on a personal level. I have
read that she is from NYC.
To my surprise and amazement, I have read that Dr. Kolodny was at one time the
Dean of the College of Humanities here at the U of A. Her spirit, as it were,
is now directed towards talking about things in American lit. that she finds
interesting, and would like to share with us. Yes, until 7 p.m., thirty minutes
overtime. But I cannot complain.
As for me, I have taken your advice and filled up my schedule with five things:
one 102 class to teach, one German translation course, Dr. Kolodny's course, as
well as a teaching literature course (given by a prof. that usually deals with
undergrads), and a course that has not yet met because of the MLK holiday:
travel writing with Daniel Cooper Alarcon. Exciting and enticing all.
I have recently paid $825 to have my four wisdom teeth removed, with much
negative effects (beyond my wallet). I spent the first few days of the semester
on Vicodin (though meeting my obligations), moved to OTC pain meds, and now, a
week later, I have passed the final hurdle and I can see the light at the end
of the tunnel. I use a heat warmer on my face. Very chic.
Jess is sometimes frustrated at her work. An engineering company, answering the
phone, doing her own reading, trying to finish her thesis (she has been told to
replace most of the citations older than five years, so she made me do a
research/copying session for her). She is soon to be a certified candidate for
substitute teaching, however, and we have enjoyed being members at the same
I see that it is now January 20, which may be a sad note for you because that
means that J-term is coming to a close. But the world looks better when one is
productive. And it also means that senior seminar is over, hopefully with no
fatalities. Think positive, eh.
I don't know if you know but Drew Fay is (I assume) now a grad student in the
political science department of Iowa State University. He told me some time
And don't worry about my late sending of this e-mail. I get proper graduate