May 10, 2015

Spring 1986: Hooking Up with the Most Conservative Professor on Campus

The University of Southern California in the 1980s was extremely elitist, stuffy, and conservative, and Charles Bertan was the most elitist, stuffy, and conservative of the faculty.  A little shorter than me, slim, with an oval, slightly irregular face and a crooked smile.

He had stuffy degrees from Harvard and Princeton, always wore a suit, carried a briefcase, and spoke with super-correct grammar.

This isn't him -- I couldn't find a picture that did the conservatism justice, and also showed some muscle.

He was only a few years older than me, but he had already published a dozen books and articles on Restoration and Augustan literature: John Donne, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope, 18th century pastoral...

His classroom skills weren't great: he called students "Mr." and "Miss", never joked, rarely smiled, and called out mistakes tactlessly.  When asked a pleasant question like "How was your weekend?" he fumbled and stammered.

Other students disliked him; I was fascinated.

Read the rest of the story on Tales of West Hollywood.