Academic Emails: Dear Professors, You Are Funny

Academic Emails: Dear Professors, You Are Funny

The first email that I received in the New Year was by Professor Pfeiffer, one of the aldermen on the board designed to protect, provide for and punish the English Department’s doctoral students as required at a particular moment. In his email, Professor Pfeiffer confused New Year rituals with Christmas rituals and randomly decided to present the gift of a grant project participation to a set of selected students.

I know better than to take the professor seriously, as he is infamous for seeking to impose order on the natural chaos of the academic universe and unerringly failing pathetically in the attempt. Besides his ill repute as an organiser, Professor Pfeiffer has been apparently drinking heavily in celebration of the arrival of the New Year and the exam period, which showed in the curiously contorted language and style of his email:

Dear PhDs-to-be,

a successful New Year is wished to y’all! It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been picked to participate in a grant project that will dispatch you to two conferences abroad and PAY FOR IT. Yay! If you’re not interested, let me know ASAP. Otherwise send me until Saturday [sic!]:

  • details of the conferences relevant to your field that you want to attend
  • justification of the department’s subsidy of these pleasure trips
  • your CV (male students) and your measurements (female students)

Cheers *raises a slivovitz shot*

I may or may not be fabricating a little, it is however true that the email was written partly in Czech and partly in English, which presented a particular challenge in decoding the meaning. With little hopes in the seriousness of professor’s immodest proposal, I promptly emailed back, attaching my resume, my conferences and my nude photo. Joking distastefully. I chose a conference in Scotland as justified by the strong argument that I do Scottish Literature, and a conference in Finland, based on the explanation that I’ve never been to Scandinavia. I’ve never been to Canada either but I didn’t dare to be too demanding.

The professor didn’t confirm the receipt of my elaborate email because as a professor, he is aloof from the ordinary course of studentkind. I get it. If the academia ever becomes silly enough to award me a professorship, I will soar so high that Google will use me as a vantage point for their bird’s eye view maps.


While I heard nothing from Professor Pfeiffer, I received a bounty of two emails from the head of the department the next day. I was confounded to dumbfounded, wondering what the department’s head has to do with either the grant project, Professor Pfeiffer or me, besides her being the department’s head.

I was honoured by a personalised email first, which I cherish as a holy relic. It was a brief but affectionate note, which is striking, considering that the department’s head scares the head off me and that we are by no means on first name terms – not even on speaking terms for the matter because I’m afraid of her so much. She wrote with multiple typos that I took the liberty of clearing in this transcript:

Mara, sweetheart, fit your CV in enclosed template. Xoxo, Lena

A group email followed shortly, addressed to about a hundred people who have or had any affiliations with the department in the past ten years or so, including drop-out postgraduates, employees on maternity leave, IT helpdesk, cleaners, the janitor and the ghost of the department chair past. Lena, or Professor Vickerman, neither uses blind copy nor does she ever update her mailing list, and there’s no Unsubscribe link either. Thus she wrote to half of the small university town as follows:

Cheers, PhDs,

very nice conference requests you sent to me, very nice and very smart, but. But one of the conferences HAS TO TAKE PLACE IN 2016!! So, off to the darknet you go and don’t return until you have one conference for 2016.

Good luck. *evil laugh*
Professor Elena Vickerman
English Department Head-ress
University of Eastern Patagonia
Address, phone etc. etc. etc.

I was wondering who plans ScotLit conferences two years ahead. I’m not wondering anymore because I soon knew the answer. No one. There is one conference known to be in 2016 distantly related to the subject, which is the big-time big-deal all-around annual gathering of the European Society for the Study of English. I neither precisely study English, nor do I particularly want to go to a mass event of this scale, but. But I’ve never been to Galway, Ireland, so. I’ll keep you posted – in 2016!

25 thoughts on “Academic Emails: Dear Professors, You Are Funny

  1. Hello, my dearest and beloved cyborg and Professor-to-be from Patagonia!

    First things first? How’s your first night in heaven?
    I can see a smile from here!

    This post is obviously impeccable, irreprehensible, and wicked! I see no reason why you would not be awarded with an excursion to Scotland, Finland, and Canada, given your CV and photos! Did you send the ones from Greece?

    Even if you disguise quite a lot the identities and actions of those professors, it is still appaling to read about their behaviors. How do they get to be professors?
    Silly question. In private or public firms, universities, and anywhere, merit is always the measure used to reward and recognize talent and competence. Let alone intelligence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello humanoid!! Thank you for thinking so highly of me. I would hate to disappoint, so I will refrain from revealing how mean and incompetent I actually am, as some of my senior colleagues do with some success…

      As to my first night in heaven (literally, as I’m living on the top floor), it provided ample material for a blog post to come one of these days… As a foretaste, the heating wasn’t working and I was under an attack of lacewings (ugly bugs), also some sockets weren’t working, so I made a morbid use of electric extensions. All this while drinking slivovitz for internal heating. It was all rather amusing, especially since the heating and the sockets are working now and the bugs have been mostly exterminated.

      Thank you for indulging me. You might be my favourite humanoid. Hopefully the Chinese won’t read this. Ha.


      1. Hello cyborg!
        I know we need to work on your self esteem! 😉 you’re great!

        How cool and hilarious was your first night at your penthouse! I’m happy that slivovitz once again didn’t disappoint you, and all the animals have been exterminated. What a night!

        I’m afraid the Chinese will read this post, so let me explain to him that he’s your preferred Asian humanoid!! The only one and number one. All numbers, in fact!!
        Does that help?



        1. To work on my self-esteem? What is that? A swear word? Anyway, thank you, as always 😉 The Chinese is my all numbers? Well, that sounds interestingly ambiguous…


  2. I think you should have dove into the deep end and asked for Canada. It might have been a bit challenging to tie it into the whole Scottish literature thing, but our founding fathers were mostly of Scottish origin. Surely that counts for something 😉


    1. Surely Scottish forefathers in Canada count for something, and actually we do have some courses in Canadian Studies at our department, so it could have been done — but I really wouldn’t be so daring as to ask to have the costs of a pleasure trip to another continent covered 😉 I’ll see what comes out of the Scotland and Ireland conferences. I will keep you posted — and if it works out, I’m especially looking forward to making lots of photos! Not of the conference. Ha. thank you for reading!


    1. Haha, thank you for cheering me up! Yes, let’s forget Canada, I should have asked to be dispatched to Australia to learn Australian English because it has everything to do with Scottish literature 😉 Thank you very much for reading this rather quirky post!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Are you a lecturer of some sorts?
    And people will soon refer to you as Dr Mara,right? * Writing this in utter admiration *
    People who have a doctorate and similar degrees tend to master their subjects with relative ease! (I’ve noticed this with my mathematics,finance and economics lecturers)! 😮


    1. Yes, I lecture one course at my department, which is the standard requirement for a PhD student. And yes, I hope to finish my degree soon and become a Doctor indeed 😉 I value education as much as you do — I’m almost obsessed with formal education, so it means much to me. And I’m excited to witness your progress with your studies!


Say what?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.