Professor Archetypes: The Superstar

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The Superstar is often late for class on account of just having flown in from Singapore/Zurich/LA. Nevertheless, s/he breezes in casually. S/he chills with presidents after all, it’s no big deal. While the Superstar may be calm (they have seats that recline to become beds in business class), their brilliant TAs (who actually read what you write, choose the readings, and might possibly know your name), have been biting their fingernails anxiously because they misused a semi-colon in their last e-mail to the Superstar. Superstars do not appreciate bad grammar from their minions.

The Superstar will have to miss class occasionally to receive honorary degrees or organize panels in which they hang out with other Superstars. In the event of this you may end up watching more movies than you bargained for (but really, who’s complaining?). However, the Superstar does also occasionally invite his/her other Superstar friends in to be guest speakers, you know, because they do get tired sometimes, even in business class, which is a pretty fair trade-off.

You will not become pals with the Superstar. Even PrezBo is not pals with the Superstar. If you’re very lucky, you might say hi to his/her apprentice, one of the haggard, nail-less TAs in Butler Cafe, but it is important to realize that these TAs like talking to you for the same reason the Superstar likes talking to his/her TAs. It makes them feels good to talk to people infinitely less likely of achieving Superstardom than you!

Text by Claire Sabel, illustration by Abigail Santner



  1. Freedom of Speech  

    PrezBo IS the superstar

  2. CC 13  

    Eric Foner is too cool for presidents, even.

  3. Anonymous  

    Saskia Sassen

  4. Anonymous

    gulati for sure!

  5. Mr. Cellaneous  

    Xavier, surely

  6. Anonymous  

    Branden Joseph

    "Sorry if I'm a little off. I just got back from a Rauschenberg show in Amsterdam."

  7. Anonymous  


    literally said she was late because she just flew in from Guangzhou China in an exploratory trip

  8. Another vote for...  

    Saskia Sassen. I would never have the courage to hand in a paper to her directly.

  9. how unfortunate  

    that i have taken classes with sassen, xavier and sachs. that's the acquaintance of many a nail-less TA

  10. absolutely  

    definitely Saskia Sassen. best example of this I know. also, to some extent, Sudhir Venkatesh. I also think I know who wrote this, and that she knows who I am too.

  11. talkin bout  

    Farah Griffin

  12. How about

    Goehr. I love her, but she so fits this description.

  13. so far

    i've taken 14 classes at columbia and have yet to meet a professor i've been excited about. but y'all are encouraging me to look into these guys, so thanks!

  14. Anonymous

    John McWhorter.

    "In all seriousness, I love Germany. I'm actually going there tomorrow."

  15. Anonymous  

    And all of this because Chuck Norris shook their hand once

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