Another Anecdote About Dr. Sharp

In the fall of my second year of graduate school, I was taking an American Fiction class with Dr. Ches Sharp, the third class I had taken with him in my first year of graduate school. I had come to know him rather well by then, so it was no surprise that he threatened to throw me off the mini-dome, East Tennessee State’s athletic complex, near the beginning of one of our classes. He had good cause, as I had provoked him. He came into class, and he began talking about repetition in courses. He had been talking with someone about the fact that professors assign students the same works of literature throughout their academic career, so the students end up reading The Scarlet Letter several times over the course of a few years instead of being exposed to other works. He argued that this repetition was fine, as students developed over their career, so they saw the works differently at different points, and professors come to those works with different approaches, so the students receive that benefit, as well.

After he finished, I asked, “So, Dr. Sharp, you’re saying that repetition is OK?” He responded that it was, and I immediately asked another question: “So what you’re saying is that it’s OK to do the same things multiple times, but in slightly different ways?” Again, he commented that he was making that argument, and I jumped in again, “So, let me make sure I understand. You’re pointing out that saying the same thing in different ways is perfectly acceptable?” At that point, he realized what I was doing and threatened to throw off the mini-dome. I have repeated similar threats to students who are as annoying as I was.

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