This past couple of weeks I sipped from the well of erudition. Professor Leonard Barkan, of Princeton University, gave the 2011 Jerome Lectures at the American Academy in Rome, and his topic was Unswept floor: food culture and high culture, antiquity and renaissance.

At this point, having been to all of Professor Barkan's lectures, any sly comments I might make about parts being hard to digest, or tasty, or nauseating, 1 or anything else in the comestible line, would be entirely superfluous. His knowledge flowed wide and deep and covered the broadest of fields, such that I was both fully prepared for Language Log's recent discussion of a wee spat between Bertrand Russell and Roman Jakobson, and ready to discuss, briefly, with friends the significance of invitations to dinner in Roman satire. (Lord Macaulay's aperçu -- that most dinner parties are given by way of revenge -- did not get a mention.)

What lasting impression did I come away with? That this scene has an extremely long and extremely interesting history, and is by no means merely funny.


  1. I wouldn't choose to display my ignorance of high culture just for a cheap laugh. 

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