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"I'll take 'Course Correction' for $400, Alex."

Getting a clue on Jeopardy about a certain sanguineous MLaw course

June 28, 2011
Contact: John Masson, 734.647.7352, jpmasson@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A considerable number of drinks were likely spilled and bowls of chips upended by Michigan Law alumni this month when a contestant on the syndicated game show Jeopardy asked host Alex Trebek to unveil the answer behind the $400 marker in a quiz column labeled, in cryptic Jeopardy style, "Course Correction."

The answer? "Dropped Bankruptcy for Bloodfeuds, at this Ann Arbor Univ.'s Law School 'cause Bloodfeuds sounded awesome!"

And probably before contestant Kartik Venguswamy—himself an attorney—could spit out the correct response ("What is the University of Michigan?"), Prof. William I. Miller's sprawling clan of former students already were texting, emailing, and Tweeting the news to those who hadn't seen it as it was being broadcast.

At least one alum whipped out a cell phone and captured the answer in close-up.

Jeopardy"I took Bloodfeuds my 3L year, and by the time the first commercial break was over, my classmates and I were on Facebook buzzing about it," said another alum, 2010 graduate Joseph Wang. "Brought back fond memories."

Miller's colleagues were buzzing with good-natured ribbing, too.

"Miller probably always hoped that he would be famous enough to be an answer in some trivia game," said Associate Dean Mark West. "How brilliant is it that when he actually is part of a trivia game—and a nationally televised one at that—the answer comes in the form of a question?"

As for Miller himself, the Thomas G. Long Professor of Law was modest, as befits a man who has, in his own words, dedicated his scholarly life to writing about "emotions, mostly unpleasant ones involving self-assessment, and select vices and virtues." After penning books with such light-hearted titles as The Anatomy of Disgust, Faking It, and Humiliation—as well as the book that forms the basis of the Bloodfeuds class, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland—what else could anyone expect?

"Wouldn't it be my luck to make it to Jeopardy as an irrelevant sidebar to a question any sentient six-year-old could answer?" Miller wondered. "No wonder they marked it down to 400 bucks. My modesty is thus no virtue, but forcefully imposed upon me. At least I can take some solace in not having some kid drop Bloodfeuds for John Pottow's bankruptcy course. There's a guy who ought to be looking to take revenge on Trebek."

Pottow wasn’t so sure he agreed.

"It seems the type of student who would drop my bankruptcy class for Bloodfeuds based on 'awesomeness' might actually be better off as a result," Pottow said archly.

 

Miller's next book,Losing It (Yale University Press)—an anti-paean to the indignities and infirmities of growing old—is due out this fall.

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