June 16, 2003

Academic Introspection

First things first: For some really good navel-gazing about academia (yes, there is such a thing), head over to Critical Mass and give those entries/comments a read. Brings back memories...for me, the grad school dealbreaker was the realization that teaching college students to love literature--the reason I wanted the PhD--would forever take a backseat to the politics and theoretical mental masturbation rampant in the discipline.

UPDATE: Fixed link--it should go to the right place now! Thanks Erin and JD for pointing that out.

That realization was especially depressing to me because my undergraduate experience had not prepared me for that reality. My ideas about the life of the mind were encapsulated by a conversation that my advisor had transcribed between herself and a student and taped to her office door. I still remember it:

Student: So what do English Majors do?

Professor: We read books and talk about them.

Student: That's it?

Professor: Yep.

I thought that was a noble goal, primarily because that's what we did in my "untainted by theory" undergrad program, and it cemented my belief that a good humanities-centered education could prepare people for any intellectual challenges that might come their way. Needless to say, my desire didn't survive my disillusion.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 16, 2003 01:33 PM

It's discussions like the one going on over at Critical Mass that make me glad I'm not "doctoral material."
My white trash background meant I never adequately learned a second language, thus totally queering my chances of getting into any kind of serious doctoral program. Of course, I *could* pursue a so-called "doctorate" in "education," but then my sister (an elementary school teacher) would murder me and leave my sorry carcass for the ravens.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 17, 2003 04:24 PM