Rocks for Jocks, etc. (UNCLASSIFIED)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 27 15:40:37 UTC 2010

"Physics for Poets" was the official name of an introductory physics course
for non-majors at NYU around 1970. It was so listed in the catalogue.

(That's the standard, not the emphatic, use of "so.")
ISTR that Bill Safire wrote about satirical course names in one of his early
columns, reprinted with readers' contributions in one of his language books.

On Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 9:34 AM, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Rocks for Jocks, etc. (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Some years back, locally at least, there was a series of jocular or satiric
> rhyming nicknames for "trendy" courses or academic fields that were being
> instituted in the 1970s/1980s; perhaps those nicknames were modeled on the
> common abbreviation (oral as well as graphic) "Brit. Lit." or perhaps "Lit.
> Crit."  The ones I can remember are "Clit Lit." (also, of course, "Chick
> Lit."), with its counterpart "Dick Lit."; "Flit Lit."; "Spic Lit."; and
> "Hick Lit." ('Southern Literature'; this was at the University of Georgia!).
> Urban Dictionary now gives "clit lit" as a synonym for 'chick books/movies'
> (UD also gives "dick lit" in a complementary sense).
> It's interesting how /Ik/ is found to be a serviceable rhyme for /It/.
> But then, "Physics for Poets" is probably assumed to alliterate (that
> course was also offered at Princeton when my son studied there in the early
> 1990s--along with the ubiquitous "Rocks for Jocks").
> --Charlie
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 19:02:39 -0400
> >From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of
> "Garson O'Toole" <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
> >)-------------------------------------
> >
> >Dave Wilton wrote:
> >> I would guess "Darkness at Noon" is art history, due to the slide
> >> presentations characteristic of the course,  a.k.a. "Art in the Dark."
> >
> >That agrees with the list of college course nicknames given in the
> >Dictionary of Jargon excerpt listed below. The interpretation given by
> >John Baker for "nuts and sluts" is supported, and the class mentioned
> >by Gregory McNamee is included in the list.
> >
> >Citation: 1987, Dictionary of Jargon by Jonathon Green, Page 124,
> >Routledge. (Google Books limited view)
> >
> >blabs in labs (linguistics),
> >chokes and croaks (first aid and safety education),
> >clapping for credit (music appreciation),
> >darkness at noon (art history slide show),
> >Gods for clods (comparative religion),
> >holes and poles (sex education), …
> >nuts and sluts (abnormal psychology),
> >… Several more are listed in the text.
> >
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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