by Daniel Grigore

In between theorizing about meta cognitive affect and, more importantly, thinking about cats, Professor Peter Katz teaches in the English Department. A former Editor-in-Chief of our very own Campus Chronicle, Dr. Katz graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Q: As a professor of English, if PUC students were to infiltrate your bedroom tonight, what books would they find on your nightstand?

A: I don’t own a nightstand. My parents’ house where I grew up was just always full of stuff. Our [Dr. Katz and his partner] decorating style is pretty spartan anyway, and we were like, ‘Nightstands are a lovely place to pile a bunch of extra junk.’ However, if a student were to look under my bed, they would find my Kindle, because it’s 2018, and no one owns books anymore. I’m currently reading Serpent of Venice, by Christopher Moore. I’m also forcing myself to read Life Debt, which is a new Star Wars book. I read nearly all the novels before Disney bought the franchise, and now those aren’t canon anymore, so I feel like I want to re-learn about this new universe, I guess. I don’t even know why I’m still reading it, because it is the worst book I’ve ever read. It’s in present tense. Why?

Q: Up until now, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

A: I’ve had maybe, like, four jobs in my life—including this one. I loved being a martial arts instructor when I was a teenager, but I think I’d have to say teaching at PUC is my favorite job so far.

Q: At what job were you a dismal failure?

A: I was a Cutco Knives salesman for approximately
a day. I needed a job between freshman and sophomore year of college, couldn’t just take my old job at the martial arts dojo, and had no other marketable skills. I went through the whole interview and training, started my first call—which was to my neighbors, who had volunteered—and I just was like, "Nope, not doing this." It included two things I’m terrible at: being assertive and talking to people. They wanted us to hound people when they weren’t interested in the product, and I’m like,"If you want knives, just go buy them. If you don’t, why should I bother you about that?" It was the worst.

Q: What do you dislike most about your appearance?

A: Nothing. I’m an Adonis. But actually, if I had to pick something: I wish my body was more rewarding. I work out and exercise a lot, but I don’t really bulk up. My auto-immune disorder means I don’t process nutrition well, and it directly attacks my digestive system, so I lift, and just end up skinny
and sore.

Q: What do you consider an overrated virtue?

A: Selfish selflessness. People who have a martyr complex irk me. I also hate mindlessly extolling
"seeing both sides of the coin." Sometimes, sure. But sometimes you have to take an extreme stance. Nazis are bad. Racism is bad. Taking a middle ground stance on human rights is lazy.

Q: What words or phrases do you most overuse?

A: In class, "What assumptions do we need to make in order to ask that question?" But also, specifically on papers, "Moving in the right direction." My martial arts master always says, "That’s the right idea," which ultimately means, "Not at all even close." I vowed never to do something like that, but then realized it’s exactly what I mean when I write "Moving in the right direction." Sorry.

Q: What trait do you find most deplorable in yourself?

A: I have a tendency to worry about being too
arrogant, so I attempt to be more self-deprecating,
which makes me seem arrogant. It’s a ruthless
cycle.

Q: What trait do you find most deplorable in students?

A: Believing excuses they make to themselves. Like, when you tell me you didn’t know an assignment was due: I reminded you in class, and with an announce, and it’s on our hard-copy syllabus, and our canvas homepage. I know you could have known. Honestly, I don’t really care—but what I do care about is if you believe you didn’t know. I’m willing to play dumb because grades are stupid—I just want you to learn—but I hope you learn to say to yourself, "I need to be more on top of my responsibilities." That’s way more important than a grade.

Q: What TV series did you most recently binge watch?

A: Um, I think it was Dark Matter. Good show.
Interesting gender and economic politics. Terrible
Orientalism. PSA: Feudal Japan was an actual
historical period, not a costume genre.

Q: I know you are a gamer. If you didn’t have to work, what game would you play, nonstop, forever?

A: It would have to be Heroes of the Storm. I’m currently ranked a Diamond 3. If I played more, I’d probably be Masters, but people keep turning in papers I have to grade.

Q: Other than the Campus Chronicle, where do you get your news?

A: Mostly NPR. But also my partner, Ariane. She drives a lot, so she listens to the news more than I do. If I’m looking for a fast update, then the New York Times online.

Q: If you were the president of PUC, what would be the first issue you tackle?

A: At the risk of sounding like a kiss-up—not that
he really directly supervises me—I think President Cushman is doing a wonderful job planning for long-term success. But most importantly, I think, free lattes for faculty in The Grind.

I think students might get riled up about that.
“Let them eat cake.”

Thanks, Dr. Katz!
We hope to continue this series with another member of PUC’s faculty and staff, so stay tuned.