ABSTRACT

The ghost of James Webb haunts the halls of the English Department at the United States Naval Academy. This is quite an accomplishment, considering that Webb isn't dead yet. A Naval Academy graduate of the class of '68, a former Marine officer, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a Georgetown Law School graduate, a best-selling and critically acclaimed novelist, a former Secretary of the Navy, and now a US senator Webb always was an overachiever. Military spiritualists believe that the profession of arms is a sacred trust requiring its followers to lead a largely unexamined life. The Naval Academy lexicon likewise includes floating signifiers such as "patriotism" and "professionalism" the latter functioning as a kind of shibboleth. The Naval ROTC mids at Berkeley were not only the most intelligent, interesting, and diverse group of students have had the privileging of teaching; they were also open-minded, tolerant, and adept at moving between the academic and military cultures.