When I was appointed to the Henry James Chair of English and American Letters at New York University, I asked the chairman of the department, the late James W. Tuttleton, if I might be treated as a generalist—one who might be allowed to teach any courses in the Department that he regarded himself as competent to teach, without having to confine himself to a particular “area” or “field.” Professor Tuttleton had no problem with that request. Years later, when NYU elevated me to a University Professorship, the then-president, L. Jay Oliva, told me to discuss my teaching duties with the Chair. I saw no reason to do that; I was quite content with my conditions, specifically with my unquestioned movement among the literatures of England, Ireland, and the United States.

Over the years at NYU, I have taught lecture courses in the...


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