vulgar American habits of the 1960s


I had a very good friend in the neighboring college when I was teaching in Oxford—we shared students and dined together frequently during vacations when they would close one kitchen and we would dine in one or the other college. He was a French medievalist, a man with great intellectual interests. He was always doing something like learning Turkish or studying Byzantine architecture, but he had absolutely no interest in ever publishing about medieval French literature. To him that seemed vulgar, the sort of thing Americans do. I remember his saying to me, “Jonathan, I understand that Americans have something called a curriculum vita [sic], in which you keep records of everything you do in lists. Is that true?”

—Jonathan Culler, in Jeffrey J. Williams, “Clarity of Theory: An Interview with Jonathan Culler”, The Minnesota Review, ns70 (Spring/Summer 2007)