The secret lives of Lawrence professors

Kayla Wilson

Much to the dismay of his students, Visiting Assistant Professor of English David Kaplin has just embarked on his last term at Lawrence. During his short stay, he has taught many lessons, including how to feign enthusiasm for Wordsworth, how to tell it is time for a career change and of course, the importance of reality television.
Professor Kaplin, who triple-majored in Western philosophy, history and literature as an undergrad, originally intended to pursue a career in literature, “doing something academic.”
However, while he was a sophomore at Wesleyan, a good friend of his started at Cornell Law, and her reports got him excited about pursuing that field.
This career path ended up not being right for him, which he realized after his unfortunate “ATM incident,” in which he yelled at an old lady.
“The one thing I take away from my law career is how not to yell at old ladies,” he joked. After this detour he returned to literature, spending the next two years preparing for grad school and reading the things he loves.
He continued to work as a lawyer up through grad school, however, but at a different law firm. “I don’t regret it,” he said, “but I’m so happy I’m out of there.”
Kaplin applied for an open position at Lawrence and joined the faculty in fall 2006. Of the interview process, he said, “I really felt a comfortable collegial and academic connection. It was nice to come to work somewhere comfortable.
He added, “I will probably measure all future teaching experiences by my experience here as sort of the gold standard.”
Kaplin, a specialist in Victorian literature, cited his period of “professional turmoil” as important in terms of pushing him toward this period, saying, “I was reading these novels at this time, and they are all about securing the home as a safe and stable place, which is what I was trying to do.”
Of course, the humor is also important. “It can be so bawdy, and then in the next sentence so subtle,” he said.
While these academic answers are fine and well, the truth behind his choice in a specialty is much more hilarious. Said Kaplin, “I like to sit at home and read them aloud in a fake British accent.” A proper outfit for this endeavor has yet to be found.
When he is not reading Dickens aloud to himself on rainy evenings, Professor Kaplin spends a lot of time outside, biking, running and hiking in nice weather. He also has a “sick and terrible addiction” to reality TV, including shows like “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor,” “Project Runway” and new addition to the lineup “America’s Next Top Model.”
Kaplin tends to read Victorian literature primarily during the school year, but he does branch out during breaks and is actually in the middle of a contemporary novel, Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore.”
“It’s like being dunked into a pool of cool water,” Kaplin said of taking a break from reading literature from his period. However, his favorite novel remains Dickens’ “Our Mutual Friend.