People walk past the visitor's center on the campus of Yale University.

People walk past the visitor's center on the campus of Yale University.

Picture a professor in a tweed jacket lecturing about Aeschylus. Are you laughing out loud?

Likely not, but Julie Schumacher is a genius at finding the amusement in academia. Schumacher is the author of two hilarious novels about faculty life on campus: “Dear Committee Members” and this year’s sequel, “The Shakespeare Requirement.”

Katy Waldman reviewed Schumacher’s latest book for The New Yorker.

Schumacher grounds her sequel in current real-life woes of the academy. The novel centers on Fitger’s quest to craft, at the dean’s behest, a “Statement of Vision”—upon which all the faculty must agree, and without which no budget can be approved—that summarizes the aims and purposes of the English major. What distinguishes the Payne of 2014 from the Payne of the present are quickening winds of professionalization and illiberalism, personified in the fearsome chair of economics, Roland Gladwell, who has made the abolition of the humanities his personal crusade.

Schumacher’s prose is funny, yet jabs at the very real tensions in the academic world. The author joins us for a satirical look at higher education.


  • Julie Schumacher Professor of English and Creative Writing, University of Minnesota; author of "The Shakespeare Requirement" and "Dear Committee Members"

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