Letter to the Head Of the English Department


To Whom May Concern:

Professor Brooks Landon
English Department Head

Greetings! My name is Bill Latham and I am an English student here at the University of Iowa. I recently finished taking a course taught by one William Kupersmith, a man that to quote the vernacular is “out of his fucking mind”. I don’t know why I waited so long to write this, but I’m doing it mainly out of concern for other students who may become victims of this man’s teaching. I am addressing this to you as you are head of the English Department. I also had your Modern Fiction class during the 2001 Spring Session, and respect your teaching.

This course has been a nightmare since day one. Each class was filled with inane comments, highly opinionated coverage of the works we covered (sometimes even going beyond historical accuracy), and very limited outside help. Professor Kupersmith is not always available for office hours and offers very little help understanding his grading process. For example, I turned in a paper wherein I stated a personal opinion and said that I “wasn’t sure I believed in the personal existence of a deity”. The comment written in the margin of that paper asked “what are you trying to say?” I think I was pretty clear on that. Looking over the tests of peers I would notice comments such as “sketchy”, and also notice that whatever was made sketchy was not obvious to any of us. In fact, simply writing the comment “sketchy” with no explanation is in itself “sketchy”.

I kept a list of inane comments heard through out this course. I have well over 50 of them. I thought I would share the ten “best”. If you do not wish to claw your eyes out after reading these, I do not know what to tell you.

10) “[The people of the future] will have a machine that downloads directly into their minds. That is if they HAVE minds!” -9.17.01

09) One thing you’re not supposed to do in poetry is talk about characters like they are real people. But they are real people… well, at least for me.” -9.17.01

08) “[Modern Audiences] would say that a school bus full of children going off a cliff is a tragedy, which it isn’t.” -9.26.01

07) “I’m getting a little tired of people flying on the water and disobeying the laws of gravity.” -9.28.01

06) “The Gospel of Mark is like ordering a club sandwich if the Gospel of Mark is Turkey and the Gospel of Luke is Chicken.” -11.26.01

05) “I would certainly send a fury after that Osama Bin Laden character.” -Tying current events into Greek literature 10.3.01

04) “By the time we get to the Gospel of John we see that he [Jesus] has a sort of radar.”-11.28.01

03) “The choice of mountain goats is good, and I wonder how much experience our author had with them.” -11.19.01

02) “All the Water In the world is not going to wash off the blood of your mother.” -10.5.01

01)”I had a dream the other night where I was talking to a person who had already died. This disturbed me, but I won’t bore you with the details.” -9.14.01

I have others as well. Words barely describe how painful this class was to go to 3 days a week just for the attendance grade. I can assure you completely that this class will be the basis of some sort of short story in the new future. I cannot imagine how this man is still a teacher. Actually, I can. And I curse tenure’s name much like one would wave his fists in the air and curse a deity of choice.

Thank you for your time. I do not know if this letter will actually end up doing anything, but I thought you should know what is going on in your department. I will be strongly recommending that people do not take any classes that are taught by this man. It was not worth my time and money and sure as hell is not worth anyone else’s. Thank you again.


Bill Latham
Iowa City, IA

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