[KB] KB at Columbia

liminal man liminal64 at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 22 17:09:30 EDT 2007

For a community college teacher extremely frustrated with his inept IT department (who has proven themselves very capable of using web filters to block My Space but nowhere near as effective at making sure the network operates properly so my students can login to my class webpage!!!!  Grrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!), well, let's just say it's a pure joy to listen to you guys talk.  Such a welcome break from the daily grind.

Jack Selzer <jselzer at la.psu.edu> wrote:
Then I take back everything I said:  there it is in black and white from Josephson.  I think Josephson was speculating--but he has grounds for speculation no doubt and in any event that would sort of justify the wikipedia comment. 

Jack Selzer
Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies
College of the Liberal Arts
Professor of English
Penn State University
116 Sparks Building
University Park, PA  16802
(814) 865-1438
fax:  814-863-6834
web:  www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/l/jls25/
(this email is confidential; its contents should not be shared without permission) 

        David Williams <dcwill at fau.edu>   08/21/2007 08:02 PM 
  Jack Selzer <jselzer at la.psu.edu>       cc
  kb-bounces at lists.purdue.edu, Edappel8 at cs.com, kb at purdue.edu       Subject
  Re: [KB] KB at Columbia

My guess is that the source of this 'hint' is Matthew Josephson, who 
suggested in 1962 (Life Among The Surrealists) that Burke "had 
prospects of being appointed to its [Columbia's] faculty if he had 
stayed" (p. 36 or 37).  What that means is pretty wide open -- from 
pure speculation on Josephson's part through the possibility that some 
comment from someone at the time (1917) fueled that belief.  Josephson 
does not specify or clarify.  But insofar as there being anything in 
Burke's papers to suggest that either he or Columbia shared that 
belief, I agree with Jack that there is no affirming evidence 
available.  Moreover, from what I have seen of Burke's college papers 
from Columbia, while his grades are good (A- and B+ mainly) they are 
not superlative and while his professors' comments are encouraging for 
the most part they are not effusive with praise.  It seems highly 
doubtful to me that the University was poised to annoint him with a 
professorship had he only bothered to graduate.  And it is at least as 
clear that Burke himself had no interest at the time in such prospects 
even if those prospects existed.

David Cratis Williams
Florida Atlantic University

Jack Selzer wrote:

>Proving a negative (that something is not true) is of course very 
>difficult.  Maybe I should have said the following rather than issuing 
>Statement From On High:
>--I have come across no reference in Burke's papers to any such thing.  
>have not looked at everything Burke wrote and am particularly ignorant 
>his papers after 1942.  But before he was 45, Burke to my knowledge 
>told anyone about such a thing--at least there is no contemporary 
>reference to any such thing.
>--Burke was at Columbia for exactly one year (1917).  Two semesters, no 
>summer courses; all lower division courses.  It strains credulity that 
>someone would be told that a faculty position would be in the offing 
>ANYONE on the basis of so little college work.  Maybe someone said, 
>you're a fine student--maybe one day you could have a career as a 
>university professor, maybe even at this university.  Have you ever 
>thought about it?"  But beyond that....  Woodbridge had Burke in his 
>philosophy class--but never wrote Burke again after Burke dropped out.  
>1935 Burke wrote to Erskine, another of his Columbia profs--and Erskine 
>had no real recollection of Burke.  Josephson, Cowley, Williams 
>Burke's early correspondents--never mention this hint.
>I'd say it's up to someone else to show that someplace there were 
>that he would be asked to join the school's faculty."  I'm all ears.  
>Jack Selzer
>Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies
>College of the Liberal Arts
>Professor of English
>Penn State University
>116 Sparks Building
>University Park, PA  16802
>(814) 865-1438
>fax:  814-863-6834
>web:  www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/l/jls25/
>(this email is confidential; its contents should not be shared without 
>Edappel8 at cs.com 
>Sent by: kb-bounces at lists.purdue.edu
>08/20/2007 04:51 PM
>kb at purdue.edu
>[KB] KB at Columbia
>Rick, Jack, and Everyone:
>       The rumor about the Columbia offer to undergrad KB really made 
>rounds (if KB would simply deign to finish his work on a B.A.)  I think 
>heard it from a well-know Burke scholar as we walked from one venue to 
>another at the Triennial Conference at Duquesne in 1996.  I'd like to 
>how the rumor started, if anyone knows, and how Jack knows that it's 
>       Columbia would have been lucky to get him, of course, but we all 
>know that.
>       Ed  _______________________________________________
>KB Discussion List
>KB at lists.purdue.edu


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Jerry Ross, Assistant Professor
Department of Communications and Humanities
Southwestern Illinois College
2700 Carlyle Avenue
Belleville, IL 62221
(618) 235-2700 Ext. 5415

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