When I started teaching at university level, at the University of New Hampshire, I cursed to get one version of cred from my students – many of whom I was younger than – only purposely to upset that cred by rattling off poststructuralism at a silly pace. That was my whole Brechtian pedagogical game: jab with fuck and shit and hit them with an uppercut full of glorious jargon at the right moment.

When I started teaching at Vanderbilt, I knew I’d have to reel the cussing in, and I tried very, very hard to do so. Teaching literary theory made it harder and easier. Vandy’s hyper-professional environment, while it certainly accomodated the younger Christian who refused to wear sleeves in Benson Hall in a year-long protest without batting an eye, also a great place to see that gags and cussing weren’t the only way to bring the students on board with Althusser. To be frank, my improved handle on the material sure helped in cleaning up my language.

In my three years at Canterbury, I now parcel out my f-bombs. For all that I find 1.5 per lecture to be a low number, I still get one or two “curses too much” comments per semester. However, I find that in CINE 102: World Cinema in the 21st Century, I can use cursing to my advantage, since I have yet to read an anti-cursing comment in three years (three hundred students, more or less). It’s quite simple really: If the film’s in Spanish, or French, or Italian, I can use my the one facet of my Romance language skills – the salty stuff – to show one of the easy-to-grasp ways in which subtitles don’t render dialog “verbatim” or “exactly.” Since one of the aims of CINE 102 is to expose students to a wider range of cinema than they’d normally seek out on their own – and judging from this year’s class reactions to Police, Adjective Romanian cinema will have a tough time finding a friendly crowd in Christchurch – it’s an easy entry into a culture to see how their cursing works. Even the difference between American and New Zealand cursing – or better yet sport trash-talking – is fairly plain and illuminating.

That said, this article is the sort of title I wish we’d see more of in academic publishing. Sometimes the apt word is fuck. That’s just how things is. I salute you, McKenzie Wark, you magnificent bastard.

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