It's been a long time since I was on a university campus. But even in my time, the phenomenon of the Socratic method spilling into real life physical romance, occurred disproportionately in the humanities departments. More time, more fertile ground - teaching of all that poetry, romantic classics and examination of issues of the mind. As a science student, I saw rather little of it.
There was however an interesting and well known incident in my own family of a student- teacher relationship which created a few waves in its day. Most readers of this blog may not have heard of the well renowned Indian philosopher S.N. Dasgupta, a pre-eminent scholar of Hinduism and Indian classical studies. He once had a fiery and public falling out with one of his star students, Mircea Eliade. Eliade was discovered conducting a romance with Dasgupta's teenage daughter, Maitreyi Devi. After their love was interrupted by the stern teacher / father, the young lovers went their own separate ways. Subsequently, decades apart, each recounted a personal version of the love story in a couple of "he said, she said" books, later published as twin volumes by the University of Chicago Press in 1994. Eliade's book is called "Bengal Nights" and Maitreyi Devi's passionate rejoinder to that is "It Does Not Die."
The older Dasgupta, who frowned upon the young love between his daughter and student, later became alienated from his family and proceeded to marry a much younger graduate student of his own. The graduate student, Surama Dasgupta was my father's aunt and an accomplished philosopher in her own right. The unusual marriage caused a scandal of sorts, with the excitable Bengali intellectual community in India divided between supporters and detractors. I am speaking of an era, years before my birth, when few Indian women attended college, let alone pursued Ph.D studies. I read Maitreyi Devi's autobiographical account of her life with her father and love with Mircea Eliade when it was first published in Bengali. The book caused considerable hilarity and regurgitation of old gossip among my relatives, especially the older women. In the later chapters, Maitreyi Devi berates my great aunt (pseudonymously, for some reason) in withering terms, accusing her of stealing not only her father's affections but also his intellectual legacy. But surprisingly enough, in our family, Surama Aunty was held up as a shining beacon before the younger generation of girls and women - not just for her academic prowess but also for the May - December scholarly marriage she contracted with her mentor. The praise went somewhat along these lines, "Surama did not marry for money or lust. She chose her man based on the intellectual connection she established with him." Brain sex, as Deresiewicz recommends in his article.
(Cross posted at Accidental Blogger)