The Real Reason We Picked Jones & “The Known World”

At approximately 6:00 PM today, Edward P. Jones finished his inaugural reading as the first Wang Visiting Professor of Contemporary Literature. Now, I am finally able to reveal the truth behind the selection of Mr. Jones as the first Wang Visiting Professor.

There exists a clause in the bylaws of the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences that the selection of any new faculty member, visiting or otherwise, must be slow and difficult. I can testify that such was the case for the selection of Edward P. Jones. Faculty deliberated in the English Department war room. The superiority of Strunk over White was debated. The aggregate weight (kg) of Nobel laureates was compared to that of Pulitzer winners. Much shaking of fists, wringing of hands, and pointing of fingers occurred. Other less appropriate hand gestures were witnessed. In a moment of inspired malice, candidates for the professorship were eliminated based on their use of the Oxford comma. To decide between the final candidates, a Google Book Search was conducted. Edward P. Jones emerged victorious.

The real reason why the English Department selected Edward P. Jones as the spring 2009 Wang Visiting Professor in Contemporary English Literature:

On the day they saw Hope and the mule in the rain, that child, Wilson, had been a year and some months in Washington, DC, at the medical school of George Washington University. Wilson had learned a great deal at that university, and his mind would have contained even more but well into his second year the cadavers began to talk to Wilson, and what they said made far more sense than what his professors were saying. The professors, being gods, did not like to share their heaven with anyone, dead or alive, and they sent the young man home in the middle of his second year. – The Known World, Page 343

For the record, the medical school was put on probation for having an excess of loquacious cadavers, not because it has too many self-righteous professors. Every university has too many of those.

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