Page 2 - The Michigan Daily - Sunday, January 15, 1984
spins off from
By LAURIE DELATER
The office door swings open and
English Prof. Bob Weisbuch appears
with a colleague, laughing and offering
pointers to his friend, who will be on a
radio talk show the next day.
"Don't chew gum," he said.
"Oh, and don't wear a tie!" he jokes,
straightening his own.
WITH A CLAP of his hands,
Weisbuch welcomes his next visitor,
one in a long series that afternoon, into
his office. The former disc jockey, now
associate chairman of the University's
English department, explains that his
long-time love is top-40 radio.
"I hate progressive rock disc
jockeys...They sound like they are on
Quaaludes because they are so
quiescent," he said. "I always wanted
to be the screaming, funny d.j."
Funny and outspoken he is, but
students who have him as an instructor
for 19th century American literature or
one of the department's core courses
consistently rank him as their favorite.
At 37, Weisbuch also wins praise from
his colleagues as both an educator and
as the department administrator.
WEISBUCH'S CURLY reddish-
brown hair, wire-rimmed glasses,
animated mannerisms and hunched
walk suggest a cross between Harpo
and Groucho Marx, but the disc jockey
in him wins out.
His voice is clear, crisp, and quick. In
class "he talks, talks and talks and just
can't get enough out of the material,"
said LSA senior Leslie Shapiro. "I
imagine that, when he is 55, he'll still
have all that energy."
Students say Weisbuch's lectures are
intense, packed with interpretation and
details, and demanding of student in-
"I LIKE there to be a breeziness, a lot
of give and take, and plenty of action,"
He tries to get students to challenge
his interpretations and support their
own opinions. But some students say
Weisbuch forces his views so strongly
sometimes that hecan be intimidating.
Weisbuch's teaching method grew
from his own college education during
Daily Photo by TOD WOOLF
English Professor Bob Weisbuch ponders his past days of disc jockeying and
his present days of teaching and challenging students to support their own
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the turbulent 1960s, when college
students across the country spoke out
against social norms.
AS AN UNDERGRApUATE at
Wesleyan, a small "progressive"
Eastern college, Weisbuch said, "I was
always mad at professors who played
hide-and-seek and never really came
out with their opinions."
He says his decision to teach English
evolved from his conviction that "if you
get people to think more clearly then it
would be better for society. One of the
ways to do that and learn how to ex-
press oneself is through literature."
"As a student, I was feeling a lot of
anger toward my land," he said,
lowering his voice to underline his
seriousness." Literally, when I woke up
in the morning the first thing I would
think about was the war, whether I
would go to jail. I'd have nightmares
about killing people.
"I had never read much American
literature, so I started to read
Hawthorne, Whitman and Dickinson,
and in them I saw another America dif-
ferent from the politically con-
stitutional one. I saw it as one that is
deeply-thinking and idealistic... I found
my country," he remembers.
WHEN HE CAME to the University
from Yale with his doctorate in 1972,
Weisbuch was only 25. "I kept thinking,
'Why am I here? I'm too young.' But I
was here because people in my
generation didn't have the choice to
take a few years off. You would have
been drafted," he said.
A doctor's excuse kept Weisbuch out
of the war, but he recalls friends who
resisted by fleeing to Canada or sitting
in jail. "Today none of us feel good
about what we did," he said.
During his first year in front of a
classroom, Weisbuch said he tried to
imitate the subdued nature of his for-
mer professors. "But I was so uncom-
fortable, so nervous that my legs would
be shaking," he said.
After a year, Weisbuch tossed aside
the established image of an intellectual
as "an elite, a separate person. I found
that kind of personality formation ab-
surd." He began to integrate personal
experiences, humor, and references to
popular culture into his lectures, ear-
ning him student praise and two
STUDENTS SAY they remember
Weisbuch's lectures because he com-
pares literary figures with those from
the modern mass media. Stuart Racey,
an LSA senior, said Weisbuch once
compared the reputation of English
poet Alexander Pope in the eighteenth
century to rock singer Mick Jagger.
Others say his interjections of phrases
such as "groovy" and "what a gas" add
flavor to his lessons.
Weisbuch speaks with excitement of
one class that was so unusually free-
thinking and challenging he would
leave the room after each meeting
"with a terrific high. The students were
energetic and demanding. I never
looked at my notes because the.
material they brought to class was so
When students ask what he expects in
a paper, Weisbuch says he tells them:
"What's needed outside of hard work, is
for people to take a big gulp and be
"IN THE PAST few years I've
noticed a timorous quality in students'
papers," he said.
As an undergraduate, Weisbuch sat
on student-faculty curriculum commit-
tees and, when he went to Yale in 1968,
he helped renovate the graduate.
program, bringing admission
requirements into line with student
needs. According to the English depar-
tment chairman John Knott,
Weisbuch's fervor for curriculum im-
provement helped earn him appoin-
tments as undergraduate chairman and
then associate chairman three years
Knott commended Weisbuch for his
ability to put together course selections
which are accomodating to both
professors and students.
"The department's curriculum is the
best it's ever been," said Knott. "What
really fascinates me, though, is that he
loves doing it."
Weisbuch will step down as associate
chairman this spring. He says the
position has erased his 60s-era distrust
of college administration and has
refreshed his interest in teaching. This
summer he plans to complete a book
about the literary impact of the hatred
between 19th century British and
American authors. He will also return
to Middlebury College in Vermont for a
second summer this year to teach in a
masters program for returning high
school English teachers.
Compiled from Associated Press and
United Press International reports
McDonald's founder dead at 81
SAN DIEGO - Ray Kroc, a paper cup salesman who transformed a ham-
burger stand into the miltimillion-dollar McDonald's fast-food empire and
planted the golden arches in 32 nations, died of heart failure yesterday. He
Kroc, who died in Scripps Clinic's Green Hospital, also turned the San
Diego Padres into a popular local attraction after buying the baseball team
in 1974. Thanks to an aggressive promotion campaign that included the San
Diego Chicken, the team drew an audience of at least 1 million people for
every season but one in the 10 years that Kroc owned it.
His death was announced by McDonald's Corp. spokesman Dick Starmann
in Oak Brook, Ill., where the company is based.
Kroc had entered the hospital on Dec. 5, suffering from diabetes and the
effects of numerous strokes in the past four years, said Ballard Smith,
Kroc suffered a stroke on Dec. 23, 1979. He said his required medication
was "incompatible with the use of alcohol" and as part of his treatment he
entered an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Pope calls for new arms talks
VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II appealed to the United States and
the Soviet Union yesterday to revive talks on limiting nuclear arms, war-
ning, "not a single day can'be lost." It was his strongest plea yet for such a
"Anybody who backs out of such negotiations would face great respon-
sibility before humanity and history," the pontiff said. "We are convinced
that there is a grave duty on the part of all interested parties in the
John Paul discussed a wide range of international issues in a traditional
New Year audience for some 200 diplomats and their families at the 16th-
century Sala Regia in the Apostolic Palace.
In the 40-minute speech delivered in French, the pope also denounced
human rights violations and demanded "an absolute ban" on arbitrary
trials, torture, abductions, banishments, forced separation of families and
executions with hasty trials.
Kidnappers threaten to kill
U.S. soldier to protest nukes
AALEN, West Germany - Police said yesterday that presumed anti-
nuclear protesters kidnapped an American soldier attached to the first U.S.
artillery unit equipped with new Pershing-2 missiles and have threatened to
The Army identified the soldier as Liam Fowler, 21. His home town was
not immediately known.
The U.S. Army's Mutlangen Base, on the outskirts of Schwaebish-
Gmuend, has been the scene of protests by anti-nuclear demonstrators who
have attempted to break into the base in recent months.
"He has telephoned his wife to say that his kidnappers are demonstrators
who have threatened to kill him unless the U.S. media is informed that Ger-
mans don't want American nuclear missiles in their country."
"The soldier told his wife that his car had been rammed by a group of
Germans who then kidnapped him and drove him to an unknown destination.
He told his wife the police should not intervene and said he had no idea where
he was speaking from," the spokesman said.
Lebanese militia commander dies
TEL AVIV, Israel -.Lebanese army Maj Saad Haddad, commander of
the Israeli-backed militia in southern Lebanon, died yesterday. Israeli of-
ficials said the 48-year-old Haddad died of cancer in his hometown of Mar-
Haddad was hospitalized in the northern Israeli city of Haifa for five days
until Jan. 5, when he was flown home. Observers here said he apparently
wanted to die on Lebanese soil.
The death of Haddad, Israel's most unabashed Arab ally, complicated
Israel's search for a proxy force in south Lebanon that would enable the
Israeli army to speed up its withdrawal from the country it invaded 19 mon-
ths ago to rout Palestinian guerrillas.
For five years, Haddad's 1,000-man force of Moslems and Christians
protected Israel's northern border from raids by Palestinian guerrillas.
Israel Radio reported that Col. Elias Khalil, a Lebanese Christian from the
Sidon area, would succeed Haddad as militia commander. Israeli news
media identified Khalil as a colonel in Lebanon's regular army and a former
classmate of Haddad at the Lebanese military academy.
Democratic hopefuls to debate
HANOVER, N.H. - Front-runner Walter Mondale braced for political
potshots while the long-shot Democratic hopefuls looked for national
recognition in the first presidential debate of 1984 - a three-hour marathon
today that kicks off the longest series of such confrontations yet.
The debate, co-sponsored by the House Democratic Caucus and Dar-
tmouth College, brings all eight Democratic contenders onto one stage for
the first time, five weeks before the Iowa caucuses and six weeks before the
New Hampshire primary.
It will be televised nationally by the Public Broadcasting System.
The cast of candidates brings together Mondale; Sens. John Glenn of Ohio,
Gary Hart of Colorado, Alan Cranston of California, and Ernest,Hollings of
South Carolina; former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew; former South Dakota
Sen. George McGovern; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Askew's aides said they think the debates will give him the exposure he
needs. "Anytime you can get the so-called 'dark-horses' on the same set with
so-called 'front-runners,' the voters can see there is not substantive reason
for that difference," said Askew press secretary Jim Bacchus.
01 be Mtdjigan 'Wan1
Vol. XCI V-No. 87
Sunday, January 15, 1984
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