Colbert goes south with Sewanee alum

by Lily Davenport

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, The Colbert Report hosted Roger Hodge (C’89), editor-in-chief of The Oxford American, for a verbal sparring round covering Texas, barbecue, and Mardi Gras. Colbert, who proudly hails from Charleston, may have turned on his own, but Hodge put up a respectable fight; to Colbert’s question as to whether the admittedly Faulkner-inspired magazine came with Cliff Notes, Hodge simply replied, “We can arrange that.”

Hodge, who served as the editor of Harper’s Magazine from 2006 to 2010 and is also the author of The Mendacity of Hope: Presidential Power, Corporate Money, and the Politics of Corrupt Influence, is certainly well-equipped to take on Colbert. Although his Sewanee diploma gives him plenty of Southern credentials, Hodge also hails from Del Rio, Texas, and commutes to Arkansas from New York City to work directly with the rest of the Oxford American’s editorial staff.

Hodge credits his success as a writer and editor largely to his years at Sewanee. In an interview published on Chapter 16, a Tennessee literary blog, he explained that, despite his “post-adolescent ersatz-punk rebellion,” he “had enough sense to realize that Sewanee was a good place to learn how to write.” Hodge continued, “In many ways my entire adult life, both professional and otherwise, has been shaped by my decision to attend Sewanee. I met my wife there, and it was there that I first learned of Harper’s Magazine… And it was at Sewanee that I first encountered the writings of Cormac McCarthy… [whose] influence on my approach to writing has been immense.”

All seriousness aside, Hodge managed to get the last word (or, at any rate, the last gesture) in the Colbert segment. After Hodge made a passing reference to Mardi Gras beads, Colbert spread his hands and declared, “So… show us your tits!” Hodge’s only reply was to smile and pull at his shirt.