20 Questions: A sketch of Centre English professor Daniel Manheim

RELEASED: Dec. 14, 2006

DANVILLE, KY—1. Position/title: Professor of English.
2. Hometown: Toledo, Ohio (till age 18).
3. Career highlight: Invited paper delivered to the cream of Dickinson scholars at a conference in Boston.
4. Signature class: I've taught Humanities for well over half of my adult life. In my last delirium I’ll be designing Odyssey lessons.
5. Recent publication/exhibition/performance: Two recent articles on Emily Dickinson, one in New England Quarterly and one in ESQ.
6. Family details: Wife, Marie, son Marc Etienne, 12, both fourth-level brown-belts in shao-lin karate, both capable of leveling me if ever I get out of line.
7. Hobbies: Table tennis, running, choral singing, whale-watching.

8. Pets: None—too many allergies.

9. Prized possession: Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are positive hindrances to the elevation of humankind.
10. Last book read: The Baroque Trilogy, Neal Stephenson (an on-going passion actually; one could spend one’s life reading those books).
11. Memorable trip/vacation: Hiking in the Pyrenees, 1993.
12. Favorite movie:Paris, Texas.  Does anyone really have a favorite movie?
13. Favorite album: Too many genres:  Schnabel's late Beethoven piano sonatas; Beggar'sBanquet; Renata Tebaldi singing Mimi in La Boheme; Tom Waits' Blue Valentine; Janis Joplin's Pearl; many others.
14. Favorite food: Gourmandizing is for 20-somethings.

15. Favorite smell: Close tie: Chanterelle mushrooms and North Atlantic coastal sea air.

16. Person you most admire: John Milton: after years of public service, he went blind, retreated to his home, and composed 20,000 of the greatest lines of English iambic pentameter, all in his head. (I know, he couldn’t have done it without his daughters and amanuenses.)

17. Living figure you'd most like to meet: Neal Stephenson: he's a hacker and a slacker and a dilettante, and he turned himself into one of the most interesting writers in the language.
18. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: Certainly not Milton. Maybe Peter Paul Rubens: don’t like his paintings much, but he was a brilliant and humane man living in inhumane times, and he survived and thrived.

19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre: Came close to trying to become what would have proved a simply awful lawyer.
20. Describe yourself in three words: Desperately seeking foundation.

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