The Question: Who is Josiah S. Carberry?

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Hi! My name is Gabrielle Frampton. I’m from Trinidad and Tobago but I grew up in China. I’m a sophomore concentrating in International Relations and East Asian Studies. I’ll be blogging for “The Question“. Together we’ll be figuring “THE ANSWER(s)” to your questions, and maybe even some of my own, about life at Brown. 

Josiah S. Carberry is a campus legend. He is also fictional.

Despite the fact that the beloved Professor of psychoceramic – the study of cracked pots- has never existed, he is a major presence at Brown. Dining halls, sandwiches, campus markets, a book fund and the library catalog all bear his name.

If you’ve ever visited campus, eaten the infamous “Spicy With” sandwich, used the Library’s online catalog, or logged into any of Brown’s Online Portals you have probably seen or heard the name Josiah S Carberry.

Brown’s infamous  professor of psycho-ceramics was created on a noticeboard in 1929 when a notice appeared advertising that Professor Josiah S Carberry would deliver a lecture in “Archaic Greek Architectural Revetments in Connection with Ionian Philology” the next day. Carberry was purported to be a leading expert in the field of psycho-ceramics- the study of cracked pots. 

The myth of Professor Josiah Carberry was soon debunked. But Brown students and professors refused to let the joke die. References to Professor Josiah S Carberry soon became a long-running and intricate joke. 

By the 1930s Providence newspapers were bombarded with updates about the life and work of Professor Carberry, his wife Laura, two daughters Patricia and Lois and his unlucky assistant Truman Grayson. Reports were so numerous and ridiculous that submissions were  banned from the Providence Journal .

Over the years Brown academics have also become notorious for inserting references to the non-existent Professor Carberry into otherwise serious academic works. In 1934, American Scientist published an article which included a citation to “Pyschoceramics”  Brown University Press, 1945. 

Josiah S. Carberry has also been honoured with several awards. Most recently, an Ignoble Prize for “significant contributions to the field of psycho-ceramics”. He’s also been featured in the New York Times. 

Another fun tradition associated with Professor Carberry is Carberry Day. Every Friday 13th librarians place cracked pots outside campus libraries. Anyone walking by drops in some spare change to benefit the Josiah S. Carberry Fund. The fund is dedicated to Josiah’s “future late wife” and is used to buy books “such as Professor Carberry might or might not approve of”

And perhaps most importantly… 

Professor Carberry lends his name to the campus eatery – Josiah’s.  Josiah’s or Jo’s, as its lovingly called, is the home of the magnificent “Spicy With” sandwich. A “Spicy With” is a sandwich made of cripsy fried spicy chicken patty, topped with cheese and usually drowned in a variety of sauces. It is closely related to its lesser cousin the “Spicy Without”-which is basically the chicken patty without cheese. The Spicy With is UNDENIABLY- a.k.a in this writers humble opinion- the single best food offering at Brown! 

If you have any more questions for me to answer, shoot me an email at gabrielle_frampton@brown.edu

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