Comments That a Professor Wrote in the Margins of One of My Essays, by Ryan Max Riley

• History is a construct, an invention of scholars really, so here I’d put instead of history: events in the so-called past.

• I think it’s fairly certain that primitive people were scared of the sun. You can go ahead and state this boldly.

• By the way, are you dating Jennifer, from class? Remember that the emergence of monogamy was a medieval legal convenience.

• This passage seems to have been written by a smarter person. This is not intended as criticism.

• This reminds me of the mapping of 17th-century Tokyo.

• Can we see? Can we hear? I mean, actually see and hear, with our eyes and ears, or do we just think we do? I don’t believe this has been conclusively proven, though I could be wrong. Perhaps better to say: what we think we see when we look at something.

• Can you remove the number from the rugby shirt you sometimes wear? It might help you socially.

• Like Santa? If so, this reminds me of the hermeneutic difficulties attendant upon death.

• For example: at which precise moment does a person die, and if it can’t be known, are we immortal?

• Again: Do we actually have emotions? This doesn’t disprove your point but is worth considering, if you’re dating Jennifer for instance. You might not love her.

Ryan Max Riley has written for the Harvard Lampoon. Some of his tweets have been published on,, and

The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit, send an email to Brian Boone.

Comments That a Professor Wrote in the Margins of One […]