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(Slate)   English major accepts reality, inquires if thou dost desire a portion of a potato-based comestible of substantial magnitude with thine meal   (slate.com) divider line 124
    More: Obvious, Ph.D., Ron Rosenbaum, English, literature, Kafka, meals  
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8070 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Apr 2013 at 3:55 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-05 02:55:16 PM
There's a big difference between an English major (BA) and a PhD in Literature. As long as software companies continue to hire H1-Bs, people with English degrees and a bit of technical knowledge can find decent jobs. A PhD in literature is what happens when you are terrified of graduating and are willing to shell out six figures to stay in school.
 
2013-04-05 03:28:59 PM
She wants a tenure track professorship.  Those don't exist anymore for any field.  Hell, when I was in engineering school in the late 80's half of my "professors" were guys hired to teach one class for a single semester.  Universities are moving away from tenured professors because they are crazy expensive and frequently don't deliver good value for the institution.  Yeah, it sucks, but that's how it rolls these days.
 
2013-04-05 03:32:51 PM
It's hard to get tenure when everyone gets fired after only nine years.
 
2013-04-05 03:52:58 PM
I have a hard time mustering any sympathy for a PhD in Literature who doesn't know the correct term in our language is academe not academia.
 
2013-04-05 03:57:26 PM
I thought they called them pommes frites to sound all Frenchy and intellectual.
 
2013-04-05 03:58:45 PM
She could write for a blog.
 
2013-04-05 04:01:12 PM
[The] English major accepts reality, inquires if thou dost desire a portion of a potato-based comestible of substantial magnitude with thine meal

...and then single-handedly slays the Music tab with his unrelenting douchebaggery.
 
2013-04-05 04:02:55 PM
"two months of unpaid research sequestration and curriculum planning"

Thanks, Obama.
 
2013-04-05 04:03:17 PM

Mr_Fabulous: [The] English major accepts reality, inquires if thou dost desire a portion of a potato-based comestible of substantial magnitude with thine meal

...and then single-handedly slays the Music tab with his unrelenting douchebaggery.


Hey, he could have said "repast".
 
2013-04-05 04:04:09 PM
I bombed out when I finished my MA.  I got accepted at a school that paid my tuition and gave me a (very) modest stipend in exchange for being a teacher's assistant.  That term means someone who, with no training, no guidance, no nothing, is handed a freshman comp class to teach.  I don't know how well I did--I'd like to think that my constant message of, "Just keep writing, keep trying, keep working on your ability to express yourself on a page" did some good.  But most of the students couldn't have cared less about the class, and in fact said so.  Frequently.
 
2013-04-05 04:05:30 PM
The English Major would be pushing the evil devil's soap weed, cilantro, on everyone!
 
2013-04-05 04:06:13 PM
I never understood the "tenure track" thing.  After reading this article from start to finish, I still don't understand it.

But I suppose that's why I'm a scientist making semi-crappy money after years of unemployment, and not a professor.
 
2013-04-05 04:07:12 PM
I thought we'd be riffing off Gilbert and Sullivan lines in this thread...

"I am the very model of a modern Major General,
I provide a portion of a fine potato-based comestible"
 
2013-04-05 04:07:30 PM
Rebecca Schuman is a visiting assistant professor of German at THE Ohio State University.

Fixed it for her.
 
2013-04-05 04:07:47 PM
This dickhole is incredibly long-winded when trying to convey "I made bad choices because I'm stupid."

/College doesn't mean shiat anymore
 
2013-04-05 04:08:04 PM
Done in the article comments:

To pare it down there are a couple fundamental problems here: 
 
1. Grad students are more useful to academic incumbents that PhD holders.  
 
1a. As a result, everybody wants to expand their graduate programs. Incumbent profs can teach graduate courses, which they like better, and which preserve their jobs, since it's the last sort of class that won't be farmed out to an adjunct. Incumbent administrators like the grad programs because their either a profit-center or a source of cheap labor, and allow the administrators to keep the money flowing to administrator salaries.  
 
2. As profs retire, incumbent administrators will continue to eliminate tenure-track jobs, because paying teachers is not what they want to spend money on.  
 
3. The oversupply of grads creates a situation where adjuncts have little bargaining power, since their labor is seen as interchangeable and replaceable, and no collective bargaining power since most of them see the situation as a zero-sum game with their fellow graduates rather than a crap deal they're being handed by professors and administrators.
 
2013-04-05 04:10:29 PM
i1003.photobucket.com
 
2013-04-05 04:10:45 PM

Lsherm: She wants a tenure track professorship.  Those don't exist anymore for any field.  Hell, when I was in engineering school in the late 80's half of my "professors" were guys hired to teach one class for a single semester.  Universities are moving away from tenured professors because they are crazy expensive and frequently don't deliver good value for the institution.  Yeah, it sucks, but that's how it rolls these days.


I for one support the elimination of tenure, as it encourages professors to work very hard for a few years and then sit on their asses for 40.

I do, however, feel that adjuncts should be paid better. High turnover isn't a problem if it means you are getting another bite at the apple. Elimination of tenure means this woman won't be able to get tenure, but it also means that many more positions will be opening up constantly, all over the place, so she'll have better luck landing jobs for 3-5 years at a time, like everyone else does.
 
2013-04-05 04:11:05 PM
Whaaaa, I have a high-paying job and a PhD FML!
 
2013-04-05 04:11:06 PM
*Correction, April 5, 2014: This essay originally misspelled William Pannapacker's last name.

Haha, well that's... kind of understandable, really.

Also:

thelithiumrobot.com
 
2013-04-05 04:12:02 PM

FrancoFile: I thought we'd be riffing off Gilbert and Sullivan lines in this thread...

"I am the very model of a modern Major General,
I provide a portion of a fine potato-based comestible"


And now I have Every Major's Terrible stuck in my head.  Dammit.
 
2013-04-05 04:12:05 PM
Let's do some math.

With a few exceptions, the point of a humanities PhD is to teach that subject at a university.

Assuming a constant population and a constant proportion that attends college, then every humanities PhD needs to train one (1) replacement, over the course of his or her entire career.

Even if we assume population growth, a steady increase in college attendance, and 'exporting' our professors to other countries, at best each PhD needs to train three (3) replacements over the course of his or her entire career.

An English department of 8 professors and 14 PhD candidates is running a Ponzi scheme.
 
2013-04-05 04:15:44 PM
BWAH-HA-HA!  That person thinks that literature grad school is "the hardest work you'll ever do".  That's why you didn't get employed, young lady.  You thought literature grad school was "the hardest work you'll ever do".  You have no idea what hard work is.

Boy that's funny.
 
2013-04-05 04:17:23 PM
I like the article linked to by the article:  Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go

By coincidence, that second author uses some of my common suggestions:

As things stand, I can only identify a few circumstances under which one might reasonably consider going to graduate school in the humanities:

You are independently wealthy, and you have no need to earn a living for yourself or provide for anyone else.You come from that small class of well-connected people in academe who will be able to find a place for you somewhere.You can rely on a partner to provide all of the income and benefits needed by your household.You are earning a credential for a position that you already hold - such as a high-school teacher - and your employer is paying for it.
Personally though, I'd expand this a bit more - it's not just graduate school.  If you're going to college and getting a degree which does not translate directly into a career or job skills, the previous points also apply.   It is a luxury if you can't afford it, and it's not an investment that will pay for itself.

My only surprise about this is how many people dupe themselves into believing otherwise.  As if a 70k-120k debt will easily be paid off by someone with a graduate degree in 12'th century persian bathroom graffiti(*), who's 30 years old with no applicable job skills.

* - Specific degree may vary.
 
2013-04-05 04:17:30 PM

Tommy Moo: I for one support the elimination of tenure, as it encourages professors to work very hard for a few years and then sit on their asses for 40.


This only works if everyone gets rid of tenure. If you get rid of tenure and another institution keeps it, then they will get all the talented folks.
 
2013-04-05 04:17:57 PM

LordOfThePings: *Correction, April 5, 2014: This essay originally misspelled William Pannapacker's last name.

Haha, well that's... kind of understandable, really.

Also:

[thelithiumrobot.com image 286x296]


Well done.
 
2013-04-05 04:20:21 PM

HailRobonia: This only works if everyone gets rid of tenure. If you get rid of tenure and another institution keeps it, then they will get all the talented folks.


Same reason why we have to keep paying CEOs those obscene bonuses... top talent and all that.
 
2013-04-05 04:20:25 PM
College literature classes made me hate literature.
apparently there is something WRONG with enjoying a story... everything simply has to have some deeper meaning, and don't you dare disagree with a tenured professor's opinion.

Their eyes were watching God was a terrible book. Janie wasn't a strong character... she ran from her problems and constantly cheated on her never-ending string of husbands.

Apparently, that's an "empowering" message and I'm just a white, male, oppressor.
 
2013-04-05 04:21:34 PM

tricycleracer: "two months of unpaid research sequestration and curriculum planning"

Thanks, Obama.


Damn; I was gonna say that.

/ *sakes tiny fist*
 
2013-04-05 04:23:39 PM
I had three professors, including Margaret Meade, who gave very uninspiring classes. They'd lecture, shuffle off, and leave the grad students to do the heavy lifting. Each of these professors died the following summer.  I'm not saying that elder statesmen should not teach, but when they are very ill, they should retire. They don't do that. FSM love them, they all loved their work, but I can't help but think that writing one's memoirs with a glass of wine at hand is a far better way to spend your last year or two on earth.

I have a relative who teaches at Strayer. She has a masters in Accounting and all of her students are adults in law enforcement who are astutely lining up their Plan B career.  Those are the smart ones - cops, field agents and Secret Service people.

Academes should take note.
 
2013-04-05 04:23:39 PM

The_Original_Roxtar: Apparently, that's an "empowering" message and I'm just a white, male, oppressor.


Plus a patriarchical rapist who seeks to dominate "The Other."

I took a lit class once... I think the only thing of value I learned was the Formalists' idea that art is distinct from other methods of discourse because it is a process of "defamiliarization" and making things strange.
 
2013-04-05 04:24:26 PM

Explodo: BWAH-HA-HA!  That person thinks that literature grad school is "the hardest work you'll ever do".  That's why you didn't get employed, young lady.  You thought literature grad school was "the hardest work you'll ever do".  You have no idea what hard work is.

Boy that's funny.


You had to read something, understand it, and talk about it. Sometimes you had to explain that information to others... yeah, hardest thing ever.
 
2013-04-05 04:25:39 PM
The British staple of fish & chips (chips being chipped potatoes, AKA french fries) was invented only in 1865.

The french fry as we know it originated somewhat earlier in Belgium, where they eat them with mayonnaise, which is also customary in the American South.

Tomato ketchup is but one of many recipes for catsups or ketchups (the original dish was made with fish paste, but other forms of ketchup are made with a base of mushrooms, walnuts, etc.)

Shakespeare could not have sold french fries even if he hadn't made a good living as part-owner of the Globe, actor, playwright and man of busynesse.

What did people eat as snack food in those days? The potato was still fairly new. Bananas arrived in London earlier than we used to think, so Shakespeare might have noshed on one of those although any one of many varieties of apple, such as the Orange Pippin, would have been easy to get.

For a hot treat, roast chestnuts were, and still are, popular in much of Europe. They are quite tasty and healthy. The Swiss make chocolats in the shape of "marrons", which is the the French for chestnut, and we get the colour Maroon from them--it is a deep reddish brown.

Maroon is also the name of runaway slaves who hide in the jungles and forest of the Caribbean and the Southern coast and combined their various languages and cultures into a sort of improvised African tribal society. And, of course, it is how Bugs Bunny famously pronounces "moron".

In the Globe theatre, the spectators would have had their choice of oranges, nuts, and chestnuts to nibble on or throw at the actors. Since they had no plastic or cellophane wrappers to rustle and annoy other spectators, they had to make do with other bad habits. The rich and near-sighted were able to sit on the stage itself where they could enjoy the show above the fray in the pit, which was standing room only and full of pickpockets and villains.

And what the Hell is wrong with being a permi-student, by the way? Learning is a life long job. You might as well try to make the good times last as long as you can.

It is not the scholars who bring shame to the Academy. It is the dumbasses who stay on to get a degree in teaching. Really, how sad and useless can you get?

At least English majors can sometimes read and write.

A study funded many years ago by a major bank (Bank of America) and a major employer of engineers found that Arts majors had a rough start in business but after 15 years of employment were better paid and had more responsible positions than Commerce and Engineering students.

It is a very dumb engineer who does not wish he had taken English instead. Do you know what they call Engineers who can read and right? Managers.
 
2013-04-05 04:26:14 PM
Read and right? Whoops. Verbal dyslexia acting up. I mean reade and wryte.
 
2013-04-05 04:26:22 PM

The_Gallant_Gallstone: HailRobonia: This only works if everyone gets rid of tenure. If you get rid of tenure and another institution keeps it, then they will get all the talented folks.

Same reason why we have to keep paying CEOs those obscene bonuses... top talent and all that.


we? you don't pay them anything. go suck on a lemon.

/maybe you shouldn't have dropped that econ 101 class.
 
2013-04-05 04:27:48 PM

FrancoFile: Let's do some math.

With a few exceptions, the point of a humanities PhD is to teach that subject at a university.

Assuming a constant population and a constant proportion that attends college, then every humanities PhD needs to train one (1) replacement, over the course of his or her entire career.

Even if we assume population growth, a steady increase in college attendance, and 'exporting' our professors to other countries, at best each PhD needs to train three (3) replacements over the course of his or her entire career.

An English department of 8 professors and 14 PhD candidates is running a Ponzi scheme.


Plenty of Humanities departments are at colleges and universities that do not produce Humanities PhDs. I know at least 8, and I'm not even in the field.

Perhaps you should give up math. Have you considered the humanities?
 
2013-04-05 04:27:53 PM

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves: I thought they called them pommes frites to sound all Frenchy and intellectual.


Why do you hate our freedom fries?
 
2013-04-05 04:28:30 PM

pedobearapproved: we? you don't pay them anything. go suck on a lemon.

/maybe you shouldn't have dropped that econ 101 class.


I guess you blinked out of existence momentarily during the heady months of 2008.

Some unprecedented taxpayer largesse was rendered unto the Titans of Private Enterprise.
 
2013-04-05 04:28:36 PM
English major accepts reality, inquires if thou dost desire a portion of a potato-based comestible of substantial magnitude with thine meal

Good thing she wasn't a math major.
 
2013-04-05 04:29:36 PM
She sounds fat.
 
2013-04-05 04:31:46 PM

pedobearapproved: The_Gallant_Gallstone: HailRobonia: This only works if everyone gets rid of tenure. If you get rid of tenure and another institution keeps it, then they will get all the talented folks.

Same reason why we have to keep paying CEOs those obscene bonuses... top talent and all that.

we? you don't pay them anything. go suck on a lemon.

/maybe you shouldn't have dropped that econ 101 class.


we vote with dollars, so in that sense, we do indeed pay CEOs. And considering the bailouts many of those companies took in the past ten years, we are absolutely paying them, and handsomely.
 
2013-04-05 04:32:14 PM

brantgoose: It is a very dumb engineer who does not wish he had taken English instead. Do you know what they call Engineers who can read and right? Managers.


Hopefully they can manage to write better than you
 
2013-04-05 04:32:28 PM
dianne.cheers.jpg
 
2013-04-05 04:34:53 PM

Contents Under Pressure: I had three professors, including Margaret Meade, who gave very uninspiring classes. They'd lecture, shuffle off, and leave the grad students to do the heavy lifting. Each of these professors died the following summer.  I'm not saying that elder statesmen should not teach, but when they are very ill, they should retire. They don't do that. FSM love them, they all loved their work, but I can't help but think that writing one's memoirs with a glass of wine at hand is a far better way to spend your last year or two on earth.

I have a relative who teaches at Strayer. She has a masters in Accounting and all of her students are adults in law enforcement who are astutely lining up their Plan B career.  Those are the smart ones - cops, field agents and Secret Service people.

Academes should take note.


With those "famous" professors you need to recall it's not about their teaching it's about their theories and books. I'm an archaeologist and I've met a lot of the "top minds" in my field and mostly they are full of themselves (although Ian Hodder, who's writing reads like someone who would be full of himself...is suprisingly not) or boring with nothing to add that you haven't read in their books
 
2013-04-05 04:35:19 PM

pedobearapproved: The_Gallant_Gallstone: HailRobonia: This only works if everyone gets rid of tenure. If you get rid of tenure and another institution keeps it, then they will get all the talented folks.

Same reason why we have to keep paying CEOs those obscene bonuses... top talent and all that.

we? you don't pay them anything. go suck on a lemon.

/maybe you shouldn't have dropped that econ 101 class.



austinist.com

"Why are you teaching this shiat at 8 o'clock in the morning? Are you trying to keep it a secret?"
 
2013-04-05 04:36:12 PM
Surprisingly, English majors do pretty well in advertising, marketing, and tech industries.
 
2013-04-05 04:36:17 PM

over_and_done: I never understood the "tenure track" thing.  After reading this article from start to finish, I still don't understand it.


There's not much to understand. For the six or so years that you're "tenure track" you're on a yearly or biyearly contract. You have annual reviews in which you summarize everything you've done for the previous year and attach copies of stuff you've published, teaching evaluations, and so on. If your department's colleagues like you and what you've done, they renew your contract for another year or two. At the end of the tenure track period, you put together a binder to show what you've done for n years, which is really just your annual reports rewritten to reflect a longer period of time. If your colleagues and the administration above them agree that your publishing/teaching record is good enough and they wouldn't mind spending the rest of their careers hanging out with you at meetings every week, you might get tenure.

/Former professor, recovering academic
 
2013-04-05 04:36:37 PM

The_Original_Roxtar: don't you dare disagree with a tenured professor's opinion.


If you're doing a subject where it comes down to opinions, you're doing the wrong subject.
 
2013-04-05 04:37:14 PM
Another whiner? Jesus Christ. Take a farking job in a related field and apply yourself to hunting down the academic shiat.

/English Lit; now working best job in the world: regional correspondent and investigative reporter.
 
2013-04-05 04:37:21 PM
What a sad waste of time... like so much of college. We really need to concentrate on phasing it out in favor of on-the-job training and working your way up based on competence rather than... whatever the hell we use now... cronyism? Plain old bribery?

You would have the added benefit of knowing you will actually be trained for an actual job.
 
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