Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Inane Literary Politics and Intellectual Intolerance Driving Away Good Scholars . . .

. . . like my friend, whose story may be found below. Halfway through her first year in the graduate program of a major public university on the Left Coast, she has decided to leave. While a number of factors contributed to her decision--the prospect of a hard five-to-seven year slog trying to live off a teaching fellow's pittance, only to face the incredibly shrinking job market--she says that "the biggest factor is by far the political nonsense":

Notice that no one ever responded to my friend's questioning the inherent "American phallogocentrism" of wanting to know the story of one's own history.

It's truly a shame that this should happen. I'd like to try and convince her to stick it out, because our field desperately needs people with common sense and the guts to use it, but I know what she faces. She tells me that the faculty in her area of specialization--contemporary literature--are particularly guilty of theoretical nonsense as described above, and trying to find a dissertation advisor amenable to the kinds of projects she's interested in (cognitive approaches to literature, for example, which resist social-constructionist arguments) would be difficult.

I'm curious to know how common experiences such as hers are. If you have a story you'd like to share, please email me (Julia).

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