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Professor at Large: The Cornell Years

by John Cleese Cornell University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 248 pages
AU$49.99 NZ$52.17
Product Status: In Stock Now
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And now for something completely different. Professor at Large features beloved English comedian and actor John Cleese in the role of ivy league professor at Cornell University. His almost twenty years as professor-at-large has led to many talks, essays, and lectures on campus. This collection of the very best moments from Cleese under his mortarboard provides a unique view of his endless pursuit of intellectual discovery across a range of topics. Since 1999, Cleese has provided Cornell students and local citizens with his ideas on everything from scriptwriting to psychology, religion to hotel management, and wine to medicine.  


His incredibly popular events and classes—including talks, workshops, and an analysis of A Fish Called Wanda and The Life of Brian—draw hundreds of people. He has given a sermon at Sage Chapel, narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted a class on script writing, and lectured on psychology and human development. Each time Cleese has visited the campus in Ithaca, NY, he held a public presentation, attended and or lectured in classes, and met privately with researchers. From the archives of these visits, Professor at Large includes an interview with screenwriter William Goldman, a lecture about creativity entitled, "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind," talks about Professor at Large and The Life of Brian, a discussion of facial recognition, and Cleese’s musings on group dynamics with business students and faculty.  


Professor at Large provides a window into the workings of John Cleese’s scholarly mind, showcasing the wit and intelligence that have driven his career as a comedian, while demonstrating his knack of pinpointing the essence of humans and human problems. His genius on the screen has long been lauded; now his academic chops get their moment in the spotlight, too.

Introduction: Stephen J. Ceci1. Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: JOHN CLEESE GÇó APRIL 4, 19992. Screenwriting Seminar: JOHN CLEESE AND BILL GOLDMAN GÇó OCTOBER 14, 20003. Sermon at Sage Chapel: JOHN CLEESE GÇó APRIL 22, 20014. The Human Face: JOHN CLEESE AND STEPHEN J. CECI GÇó APRIL 28, 20015. What Is Religion? Musings on Life of Brian: JOHN CLEESE GÇó OCTOBER 22, 20046. Creativity, Group Dynamics, and Celebrity: JOHN CLEESE AND BETA MANNIX GÇó APRIL 19, 20097. A Conversation with John Cleese: JOHN CLEESE AND DEAN JOHN SMITH GÇó SEPTEMBER 11, 2017Index

"A fascinating insider look at the mind behind Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. Cleese's lectures are, expectedly, equal parts entertaining and thoughtful." - Vanity Fair  


"Professor Cleese is often funny, frequently perceptive and, unlike many professors, never dull." - The New York Times  


"An entertaining collection.... Informative and engrossing with expert insights." - The Times Literary Supplement  


"Cleese is a lively, quirky enlightener, always zipping between—or bringing together—the ridiculous and the sublime.... Professor Cleese, may I audit your next course?"- The Weekly Standard  


"Cleese's observations on human nature and scientific topics stand the test of time.... Fans of the Monty Python sketches and films, the sitcom Fawlty Towers, the film A Fish Called Wanda.... and more know that he's clever, quick and funny. The Cornell lectures demonstrate those traits as well as his wide range of interests, his expertise in a variety of fields, and his humanity." - Columbus Dispatch  


"This collection of speeches and conversations with Monty Python alum Cleese is not unlike the man himself: hilarious, always clever, and a little off-kilter." - Publishers Weekly  


"Cleese reveals a sharp but humane sensibility as well as a wicked sense of humor when it comes to human frailty. What surprises is the depth of his understanding. As provocative as it is amusing—an edifying journey through the mind of a major talent." - Kirkus Reviews  


"Brilliant.... As with a really fine magazine that makes you want to keep reading even as one piece ends and a completely unrelated one begins, Cleese provides an appealing sensibility amounting to a connecting thread that makes you eager to see where he'll go next.... It's a delight to learn along with him." - National Review  


"John Cleese is the whole reason I love the British when, frankly, there are so many reasons not to. I went to Cornell in the 70s, and if John had been making these speeches there back then, I would have had a much better time." - Bill Maher
John Cleese is a comedian, actor, producer, and director, as well as the Provost’s Visiting Professor at Cornell University. Cleese is best known for his work on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, as well as numerous other on-screen performances, including as Q in the James Bond franchise and Nearly Headless Nick in the Harry Potter movies. Cleese holds an M.A. in law from Cambridge University, and an honorary LL.D. from St. Andrews University, where he was rector for several years.