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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 77, Summer 1998

In the Footsteps of Mickelson Original Article

According to an essay in the 7 February 1997 issue of Chronicles of Higher Education, several years ago a candidate named Manfred Michelson applied for positions teaching 18th-century literature at universities around the country. His application letter told of three books under contract, more than 40 papers presented at conferences, and articles under consideration at 12 scholarly journals. Mickelson emphasized “current thinking in feminist theory, queer theory, cultural materialism, eco-criticism, and postcolonial studies,” with special attention to piratical sodomy in the18th-century Caribbean and literary sentimentalism in England.Mickelson was a hoax concocted by a frustrated professor who had just read 80 politically trendy applications for a real opening in 18th-century literature. Reports have it that Mickelson received an extraordinarily positive response from many English departments more interested in politics than in the serious study of literature.