Notes for Pages 100-109.
< 90-99 | Notes Index | 110-119 >
Luther’s essay there – this is not his dissertation – roughly (and incorrectly…thanks German-speakers!) translates to “Revelation and the Skeptical Mind”. And it’s in German instead of Latin, even! Can’t you just hear his advisor’s teeth grinding?
Page 101: I really wanted there to be an tubular wick lamp in this scene, because a girl does get tired of drawing candles, but it turns out they, well, didn’t really exist yet. For like another 150 years. Dammit!
Page 102: Oh boy, exciting academic hierarchy intrigue! At a normally operating school, the Rector would be picked from the pool of professors by the assembled faculty, and he would serve for a short term.
Even this show of democracy was generally unnecessary, and the title would just pass around the table. When your term was over, you’d hand over all the traditional symbols of office (the university seal, the accounting books which would have been audited to make you hadn’t “misplaced” any funds, etc).
This was a rather enormous responsibility. It entailed tons of obligations and pressure, coming not only from the campus, but in town (every University having a deep economic impact in its region), and at court. At a newly founded institution the local ruler might well appoint the Rector directly to make sure things didn’t crash and burn.
At any rate, for Nolte to have been Rector for the last twenty years makes him sort of the Fidel Castro of the 18th century German research university: whatever you think about his style of governance, he clearly has some kind of crazy person stamina.
Page 103: This was around the time where “research” had become an integral part of the academic world (along with “publish or perish” and a few other axioms). Previously, published work in strictly academic circles had been more about sheer displays of learning, or about clever problem-solving, than about adding to a constructive network of interlinked pieces of knowledge. You can see how this might have begun to weed out the foot-draggers and sinecure-seekers in the faculties of Europe.
Page 104: The excellent and talented young comics artist Jonathan Case modeled for Lucien in that second-to-last panel; he’s an eerily good fit, and I suspect that anybody who likes this comic will find his upcoming graphic novel Sea Freak to be totally delightful. Being as it involves a sea mutant, 1962 hairdos, and Shakespeare.
Page 105: Latinity and classical philology on the decline! These young upstarts, with their writing in the vernacular! This was really a pretty snotty thing to do – no dissertation written in German was accepted until 1803 – and that one was at the notoriously loose-wristed University of Gießen, which, like those unaccrediated internet universities who send you e-mails all that time, could promise you a fast and cheap degree based on YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE, with none of those pesky classes to attend!!1!
Page 108: In case you thought I was bluffing about the local folks speaking Czech…she’s bidding him good morning and asking him what he’d like from the breakfast table. Luther, meanwhile, is frantically trying to remember how to ask for toast.
Page 109: The Bursar is generally the financial administrator of a school; making sure everybody gets bills and tuition notices and all of that thrilling stuff. I’m uncertain about the actual existence of the registrar position at the time – that being the clerical person responsible for organizing class registrations and noting grades and credits and the like – but some poor bastard had to deal with it, so in he goes.
The process I have sort of invented here is that you’re not officially a lecturer until you get a note signed both by the Rector and the Bursar indicating that you’re on all the rolls.
Only then are you allowed past the first few rows of shelves on the bottom floor of the library, which contains basic canonical and reference volumes with scruffy edges.
And of course nobody can actually check a book OUT of the library – unless they’re senior faculty. And they put down a deposit.
Much of Western library history involved all of the books being literally chained onto their shelves – you could pull them out, but not off or away. This library’s policy is, therefore, much more liberal than it is draconian.