e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


ivy league

So I'm watching "The Good Shepherd," the Matt Damon thriller about the early history of the C.I.A. and the film's version of life in the ivy league (circa 1939) fascinates me. Rich boys, foppish one minute, full of swagger and a macho awareness of their cultural capital the next. The film highlights these kids reading a lot of modernist poetry, putting on productions of HMS Pinafore, singing tunes in four-part harmony. Did life at Harvard and Yale really look like this seventy years ago?

Does ivy league life look like this now? Pop culture representations seem to construct this version of the ivies. The Harvard class reunion from "Good Will Hunting," where cliques seem to congregate around the barbershop quartets the respective alums belonged to. The ivy-league-educated staffers on "The West Wing," who all obsess over Gilbert and Sullivan.

Anybody out there have any first-hand accounts of whether life at the ivies consists of the future senators and Simpsons writers singing a capella and talking about Pirates of Penzance? Or is this just the impression Aaron Sorkin and Matt Damon WANT us to have?

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