A clever, deflationary, and most certainly informed view of the bucking and backbiting within an English department in a relatively anonymous college named Walton. Now under the influence of the ""fastest Dean in the West,"" a promoter who is really promoting himself, Walton is undergoing a renaissance which is to include a Critique of Culture series, a new little magazine, curricular revisions, etc. etc. Most of this story is alternately projected through some of Hastings' subordinates, viz. sycophants: whether Jack Emory, an Eastern (Princeton!) import whom he is using as an ""intellect salesman""; or William Person, his resident poet; or Brendan Berrigan, the blustering ""berserk bear"" who has been his principal acolyte. All of them, however, are seen in relation to Hastings, who is using them, destroying them, and ultimately forcing them to rework their private and professional lives. Definitely an intra-mural perspective--academic prickly heat--occupational discomfort.