I have got to stop getting involved in these conversations about academia/job market. These conversations go nowhere because, for some strange reason, so many people are convinced that the only thing that’s wrong is the dicey job market. Other than that, everything’s just the luck of the draw.

So the fact that people with a fair degree of social awkwardness are then in charge of vulnerable people’s careers isn’t a problem.

The fact that large numbers of people continue to be accepted in programs isn’t a problem.

The incredibly low numbers of minorities in the humanities isn’t a problem. [I’m becoming increasingly convinced that one reason there is so little diversity is that extraordinary sacrifices are demanded for little return; smart and talented people from minority and/or working-class backgrounds who are 1st generation college graduates frequently expect that education translates into a significant step up the economic ladder, which may explain why there’s a healthy percentage of black and hispanic students in medical school, law school, and business school (or at least a population slightly more proportionate) than the truly dismal numbers in the academy (i.e. 2-3%).]

The fact that the humanities are so incredibly isolating from the real world, which has a number of effects, seems to not bother too many people. It isolates individuals from whatever family or friend support they might otherwise have but, perhaps more importantly for those who care little about individual experience, if nobody knows what the humanities are or why they’re important, and if we can’t cogently explain ourselves, we will be funded out of universities.

That graduate education is so frequently described in wholly negative terms, not by everybody, but certainly by enough people that we should be taking note, isn’t a problem either, I guess.

Nope, graduate education/academia is perfectly fine, the job market excluded. Must be nice to live in the world where that’s the truth.

[And yes, I’m oversimplifying but it’s my blog and I’m pissed off.]


4 Responses to “also…”

  1. There are so many things here I just want to pull from–quote of yours that are just SO TRUE–but then my entire comment would be quoting you.

    Two jobs I’ve applied for are programs that want to push minorities to grad schools. The intention is in the right place, but I think “What jobs will they find, if any, when they graduate? Will they feel cheated?”

    “if nobody knows what the humanities are or why they’re important, and if we can’t cogently explain ourselves, we will be funded out of universities” –also hits me hard because I think about how many students are buying into this–that theory, art, critical thought, etc etc aren’t important. Just job training skills. And a lot of people support that, which drives me NUTS. Students are coming in with out basic cultural references and I have to find a way to bridge that gap and help them see it’s important. I worry that fewer and fewer people care about what kind of citizens higher education is really creating.

  2. 2 Deborah

    I’m so glad you’re saying the things you’re saying. I, too, keep telling myself not to get involved in those conversations that go nowhere, but what you’re saying isn’t going nowhere. People are listening, and if enough people start listening, maybe more will start to rebel, not against the humanities as a worthwhile pursuit but against a system that feels broken to so many of us. I don’t know what form that rebellion can or will take, but I do know that investing years of one’s life in the pursuit of knwoledge, in the pursuit of something that we as a society supposedly value, should not lead to the dead-end disposability of life as a frustrated and underpaid adjunct. To whom is that worthwhile?

    And we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for saying these things — as if we’re the ones betraying some loftier ideal, as if we should have known better what we were getting into, as if all the problems with corporatization of the university and casualization of the academic workforce are the burden the people at the bottom rightly ought to bear as the price for their choice to pursue higher education. Acquiescence is what keeps the system going, isn’t it?

  3. 3 Anastasia

    I’m with you. I am completely with you. Thank you for saying the things you’re saying.

  4. Just started reading here. You are saying some really important things, and I hope you keep saying them!

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