An excerpt from

Dr. Delicious: Memoirs of a Life in CanLit
by Robert Lecker

My first year in the program did not start out well. I enrolled in a course on the British Romantics taught by Brian Hepworth. On the first day of class I was assigned a seminar presentation for the following week, which meant I would have to talk for about 30 minutes on Wordsworth, a poet I knew nothing about. I had never read any of his poems, except a few here and there in a high school anthology. About three days before the presentation was due I began to panic. I had no idea how to proceed, absolutely no context in which to approach this monumental task. I decided to call up Professor Hepworth and confess my limitations. Surely he would give me some helpful pointers. I dialled the number:

Professor Hepworth: Hello.
Me: Hello Professor Hepworth. This is Robert Lecker. I'm in your graduate Romantics class and I'm giving the presentation next week.
Professor Hepworth: Yes?
Me: Well, the truth of the matter is that I've hit a bit of a dead end, and I'm not quite sure where to turn.
Professor Hepworth: Oh.
Me: Well, I was wondering if you could offer any advice or help.
Professor Hepworth: Yes, I can.
Me (feeling better now): Oh, thank you so much. What would
you suggest?
Professor Hepworth: Do you have a towel?
Me (puzzled): Yes.
Professor Hepworth: Do you have hot running water?
Me: Yes.
Professor Hepworth: And do you have a bowl?
Me (more puzzled): Yes, I do.
Professor Hepworth: This is what I suggest. Fill the bowl with warm water.
Me: Yes?
Professor Hepworth: After you have filled the bowl with water, I suggest you dip the towel in the water, wring it out, and wrap it around your head. Then, try very, very hard to think. Can you do that?
Me: I think so.
Professor Hepworth: Good. Do you have any other questions?
Me: No, Professor Hepworth.
Professor Hepworth: Fine then. See you in class.

Needless to say, I immediately dropped the class. I was too embarrassed to ever show my face there again. However, I did take three courses that would shape the way I thought about literature for years to come. I still feel that what inspires us most in a good literature course is not so much the content (although it doesn't hurt to have great reading material) but the nature of the instructor, the way he or she opens up possibilities and challenges assumptions.