Since that seems to be popular around here, and thanks to the inspiration of a “male feminist” professor who… wait for it…. has been accused of sexual harassment.
Totally unexpected, I know.
For you normal folks who never wondered where your professors came from (and why would you?), take a minute to think about it. Take your wildest imagining, then make it ten times worse. That’ll get you in the ballpark.
Academia, as a career, has one of the most perverse sets of incentives on the planet, and of course I mean “perverse” in every sense. Let’s consider the economic first. Forget the dismal job prospects, as nobody really feels those when he’s 22 (and modern college kids can’t do math anyway). You need a PhD to be a professor, which means at least another 4 years in college, and usually more like 6-10. Even if you get an assistantship — good luck with that! — it’s a pittance. Think about the kind of person who would willingly live like a college student in his late 20s and into his early 30s, when all of his friends are out making money.*
That’s where another meaning of “perverse” kicks in, because, of course, the kind of kid who would go to graduate school doesn’t have any friends, almost by definition. Professing is a seriously schizo business. You’re required to teach, and that’s all the public sees, but you’re hired to do research… none of which ever gets publicized, because it’s so recondite that it’s often hard to tell what exactly it is. The lady who teaches English Lit 101 doesn’t have a degree in “English Lit;” she did her PhD on the gendered use of adverbs in 18th century British newspaper ads or something. It might not be “‘How to Write as Felt’: Touching Transmaterialities and More-Than-Human Intimacies,” but as far as everyday people are concerned, it might as well be.
That’s the kind of person who goes to graduate school.
Actually, it’s worse than that. A lady who did her doctoral dissertation on the gendered use of adverbs in Augustan newspaper ads would be one of the comparatively normal ones. That, at least, requires serious (in the sense of time-consuming) archival research, plus a working knowledge of things like “adverbs.” Yeah, there’s that “gendered” stuff, but that’s the academic version of a cover charge — you have to use words like “gendered” and “Foucauldian” to get in the door. You can at least be sure that this lady has read some Augustan newspapers, and can place the Augustan age in the correct country and century.
For many others…. not so much. David Thompson is a rich source for the deep thoughts of modern academics, and I suggest going over there right away (be sure to hit the tip jar). There you’ll see things like this:
Where women have usually been objects to be looked at, hypermedia systems replace the gaze with the empowered look of the embodied browser in motion in archival space. Always in flux, the shape of time’s transformation is a Möbius strip unfolding time into the dynamic space of the postmodern text, into the ‘unfold.’
I defy anyone to make sense of that. I speak PoMo, and I’m buffaloed. But the woman who wrote that, of course, has tenure, and was at the time the Hot New Thing in a hot new field, “radical cyber-feminism.” 400 pages of politicized junk, a random scramble of buzzwords. And that’s her dissertation, which means it was closely directed by at least one tenure-track professor, extensively workshopped, vetted over the course of years, and finally passed by a multi-member committee, also composed of tenure-track academics.
And it’s fucking gibberish. Every sentence, every clause, nearly every word.
That’s the kind of person who goes to graduate school. If you saw the author of that piece walking down the street towards you — and trust me, you’d know, there’s no mistaking a radical feminist — you’d start moving very fast the other way. What’s the difference between an Intro to Studies professor and a schizophrenic hobo off his meds? About 130K per year, plus the hobo will stop coming on to you if you just give him some spare change.
I couldn’t be happier to be gone. I’ll miss watching the freak show, and I feel like I’m letting the side down by not providing the few conservative college kids with one secret ally, but one can only pull the King Canute routine for so long before you’re spending your entire paycheck on blood pressure medication.
But hey, I’ve got some wonderful memories. And I’ll be happy to share ’em….