Christian Mawther, descendant of New England Puritans, is appointed visiting professor of humanities at midwest Alakomo University. Alakomo U. is a vast amorphism, politically reactionary and educationally ridiculous -- it is both horribly bizarre and horribly conventional. Mawther is supposed to revitalize this academic quagmire but by the time he leaves, its last state is worse than its first. His seminar, first of all, attracts all the campus misfits. He has trouble with his ""academic freedom"". And with his wife, who, it turns out, likes to be whipped. (She also has a hitherto undiscovered talent for faith healing.) At Alakomo they both find more suitable mates. By the end of Mawther's trial appointment it appears that all conceivable academic disasters have occurred: there are the secret campus police; the red herrings; the suicides; race riots; student ""demonstrations""; a narcotics scandal; and as a grand finale, the mass rape of a diminutive gospel singer. In spite of all this, or more because of it, Mawther decides to return to the arena. Some of this is too awful to be funny and what is amusing is by now either a cliche of the academic novel or irrelevant. After all, the ""academic freedom"" battle was a fictional issue ten years ago.