Friday, January 15, 2016

A Degree in Pizza Is Worth a Thousand Words

I’ve read recently about college courses on pizza in England and at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My first reaction is: Where do I sign up? I teach a college course in writing fundamentals here in Oxford, Mississippi, home of Ole Miss and PMQ headquarters, and I think teaching students about the history of the world’s favorite food would be much easier than explaining active voice. Pizza fits the modern zeitgeist so much better than split infinitives.

I’m not minimizing the complexity of pizza studies. Menu planning, marketing, pizzeria operations, point of service technology and supply budgeting are all subject hurdles that would send me sprinting to the registrar’s office to beg for an incomplete. I just like eating the stuff. Although, if I won the Powerball, I’d be tempted to open a chain of those fast casual places to ensure my longevity among the world’s richest businessmen and set up my 2020 presidential bid…against He Whose Comb-Over Reveals No Part. Pizza’s march into the academic domain doesn’t surprise me at all. As I’ve chronicled previously in my first year at PMQ, it’s on everybody’s mind…and on their underwear…and in clear plastic pouches hanging around their necks. Yes, some lonely dude in the Gateway City even married a funky slice of St. Louis-style Provel cheese-laced squareness. No word yet on offspring.

On the other hand, no one much cares about verb-subject agreement anymore. The same millennials who rack up texting minutes like Fitbit steps never met a comma they didn’t like, or stopped to capture a direct quote with two pairs of those crooked little critters that appear over written text versus dangling at the end of their hands.  On the other hand (oops, running out of hands) those same I-phone jabbing youngsters are pizza brainiacs. They all seem to instinctively internalize the quickest, smartest most App licable (See what I did there?) tech savvy way to order pizza online.

So, I ask you, as a teacher, what group would you like to challenge? The pizza entrepreneurs of tomorrow or the never-wanna-be-a-Faulkner two-hand texters of today? Actually, I have no choice.  Already admitted inventory and cash flow are way above my brain synapse firing range. I’m only good at a couple things and, tragically, one of them is locating the perfect injection point for em dashes—here, maybe—which, so far, never made me a fortune or got me one date. I take that back. One date, but she was an English major who didn’t shave her legs.

I’m not complaining, really. I love my students, even if some of them roll their eyes when I suggest that typos detract, in some small way, from a professionally written press release. I make it up to them by ordering five large pizzas for our end-of-semester celebration.        

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