To ace any Humanities class.
Now, I’m not saying you should go to college. I’m on record, in fact, saying that college is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the American public. But if you feel you must go, here’s all you need to ace any class less rigorous than Chemistry:
Discourse is the subject of your essay. Everything is a discourse (usage note: A discourse. Always a noun, never a verb). You probably think “discourse” means “talking about something,” and that’s kinda right, but you’ve gotta expand your mind, maaaan (professors smoke a lot of pot). Take “racism.” While there are lots of actions that most people would consider overt racism, there aren’t nearly enough of them to fill up all the conference papers profs need to get tenure. So they simply make things up, using “discourse” as a get-out-of-evidence-free card. Throw in a little “discourse,” and you can talk about racist hair. Yes, racist hair. Hair styles, too, are a discourse — they help reify (see below) what it means to be Black. Thus a white guy who wears dreadlocks is appropriating (another useful buzzword) the tropes (ditto) of “blackness.” This is actually the preferred technique: Nobody in their right mind would type a sentence like “the discourse of race extends even, or perhaps most crucially, into the realm of hairstyles.” But that’s the kind of counter-intuitive nonsense that flutters professorial hearts. E.g:
Do you not understand that locs are an intensely political statement and that black people – especially black women – are constantly policed about their hair?
Tone it down a bit — “discourse,” after all, has a connotation of sweet reasonableness — but learn to talk like this. You’ll definitely want to throw around phrases like “political statement” and “policed,” the more the better.
Intersectionality. Andrew Sullivan, of all people, has a pretty good short definition of this:
neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power.
You don’t really need a definition, though. You know how it’s always some white girl doing Wymyn’s Studies at a place like Oberlin, who claims to be the Most Oppressed Person Ever? You ask her how that can possibly be, given that, you know, her Daddy can afford to send her to Oberlin to study something catastrophically useless for five years at $60 large per? And she’ll reply — if she deigns to reply — something along the lines of “because mumble mumble reasons?” That’s intersectionality. Ditto with American Blacks, who have the MOPE act down to an art form, despite living lives on the public dime that are the envy of at least 75% of the human population. Whitey, of course, is keeping them down, because mumble mumble reasons. Replace “mumble mumble reasons” with “intersectionality” and it’s all good in the ivory tower. It’s how you claim victimhood while living the kind of life an Ottoman satrap would find decadent.
Reify means “to make real” or “to make into an object.” Thing-ification, if you will. It’s an old school Marxist term d’art (literary French for “bullshit”) that has been repurposed for the Pop Culture Studies crowd. Like its sometime synonym “instantiazation,” reify pulls concepts down from the realm of abstract theory and makes them into “artifacts” (another useful buzzword). An example: “Eminem’s depiction of an abusive relationship in his latest video reifies patriarchal gender roles among lower-class whites.” Translated into English, this means: “watch Eminem’s latest video, turn into a wife beater.” The variant you’re most likely to encounter these days is the dreaded “male gaze,” which literally — literally!! — objectifies women.
Resistance. Different from #TheResistance, which apparently makes Donald Trump feel bad by tweeting mean things about him to your six followers, resistance, in academic parlance, is what good people do when a discourse reifies something that makes them experience feelbad… which, of course, everything does, because intersectionality. Literally — literally!! — anything a MOPE does is resistance if you can get a conference paper out of it. I’m not kidding — the field of Subaltern Studies, for example, is chock-a-block with dense polysyllabic jargon excusing the kind of conduct among brown people that would get, say, a Vichy police chief strung up from the nearest lamppost. If you simply existed under the heel of the colonizer, and you left enough evidence for a prof to pad it out to 20 pages, congratulations, you’re resisting.
Now all you have to do is put these four terms together, which is a snap. Find something that nobody could possibly consider objectionable — model railroading, say — and declare it a Major Social Justice Issue. Like so:
An overwhelmingly white hobby, model railroading reifies the cis/het/pat assumption that only white male engineers are capable of sustaining a complex iterative system in a bounded context. The most problematic discourse of model railroading — the so called “Lionel vs. American Flyer” debate — puts minorities at risk by refusing to recognize the complex intersectionality of excluded peoples. Resistance is overdue.
Final exam: What does that actually mean?*
*It’s a trick question, obviously. It doesn’t mean anything, and was never intended to. You just have to slip in the correct buzzwords in a superficially plausible way. The Postmodern Essay Generator will get you 90% there; all you need to do is copy/paste its gibberish into a Word file, then find-and-replace with the four buzzwords described here, plus a few details from your lecture notes. The best part is, you can recycle this exact same paper for all four years, changing only the superficial details and the section number.
That’ll be $45,000, please.