Thursday, February 01, 2007

Torn between brilliant Frenchmen

The class I'm auditing at Columbia with visiting prof. Pierre Birnbaum overlaps with the one I'm taking at NYU with visiting prof. Pascal Ory. Both are famous professors, and justly so. Why do these two classes have to overlap? Or why can't there be some kind of express train from 116th to 8th, so that I don't have to walk out in the middle of one only to run from the station so as not to walk in during the middle of the next? I realize there are worse problems to have--and, heck, I have worse problems than this--but this is nevertheless a problem that's on my mind at the moment.

Another problem: a fellow auditor in the Birnbaum class asked me what my deal was, I said that I'm a graduate student at NYU, and he asked me if this was because I didn't get into Columbia. An explanation of the fact that Columbia didn't have any professors doing anything specifically about French Jews, and that NYU has an institute which focuses on 19th and 20th century France, and so I've in fact never applied to Columbia, for undergraduate or graduate school, did not seem to convince him of anything. I wish that saying "NYU" didn't still imply, "I'm rich, I come from Long Island, and I looove the bars on Bleecker Street!", but to those of a certain generation (say, my age and older) it does. It's changed in recent years, but there's always going to be a lag. Just like the University of Chicago will probably be thought of as nerdy well into its first decade in the 21st century of being a frat-and-football powerhouse. Oh well.

Columbia, not surprisingly, really reminded me of the U of C. I'd seen the campus before, heard and understood the comparisons, but taking a class there, I kept thinking I was in Cobb and could stop by Classics for a mocha and linger while watching the mating rituals of androgynous, blazer-wearing graduate students. The grad students at NYU are by and large really smart, but the whole fetish for academic attire doesn't seem to have made its way to the Village.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Haha, that's wonderful! I have no idea what you are talking about.

Phoebe said...

Who are you, Anonymous, and which part of the post are you referring to?