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Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person 489

An anonymous reader writes "An assistant professor at Ohio State University who recently earned her Ph.D. in literature writes a warning in Slate for others following the same path. She says, 'I now realize graduate school was a terrible idea because the full-time, tenure-track literature professorship is extinct. After four years of trying, I've finally gotten it through my thick head that I will not get a job—and if you go to graduate school, neither will you. ... Don't misunderstand me. There is unquantifiable intellectual reward from the exploration of scholarly problems and the expansion of every discipline—yes, even the literary ones, and even if that means doing bat-s**t analysis like using the rule of "false elimination" to determine that Josef K. is simultaneously guilty and not guilty in The Trial. But there is one sort of reward you will never get: monetary compensation from a stable, non-penurious position at a decent university. ... By the time you finish—if you even do— your academic self will be the culmination of your entire self, and thus you will believe, incomprehensibly, that not having a tenure-track job makes you worthless. You will believe this so strongly that when you do not land a job, it will destroy you, and nobody outside of academia will understand why. (Bright side: You will no longer have any friends outside academia.) ... In the place of actual jobs are adjunct positions: benefit-free, office-free academic servitude in which you will earn $18,000 a year for the rest of your life."
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Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:24AM (#43369263)

    That's a typo, professor.

  • Re:also (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:46AM (#43369507)

    Perhaps he's just suggesting that lawyers are horrible persons. I could get on board with that, as I've never met one that wasn't.

  • by swan5566 (1771176) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:49AM (#43369527)
    ...would you like fries with that? ;p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:52PM (#43370359)

    That's a typo, professor.

    I don't really think that's a judgment we're capable of making. Since the work itself is the only insight we have, we have to assume every word is carefully and deliberately chosen to further the narrative. For example, it may be a deliberate (if subtle) way of demonstrating that even an accredited professor is above simple, mundane mistakes. Or, perhaps the error is meant to convey information about the narrator's state of mind: is she stressed? Hurried? Breaking down? Maybe it's a deliberate violation of our expectations in diction, such as Lovecraft's deliberate use of archaic anglicisms, or Burgess' use of Nadsat slang in A Clockwork Orange, or the way Shelley repeatedly uses the same five adjectives in Frankenstein. Perhaps in her post-network context, "you" and "your" cease to exist as meaningfully distinct words. The ambiguity is ripe for future analysis. At least until the second edition comes out. Then it may be corrected.

  • by EricTheGreen (223110) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:43PM (#43371819) Homepage

    Rebecca, it's not polite to comment on your own article...

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan