“The essays that the graduating BAs would submit with their applications were often brilliant. After five or six years of PhD work, the same people would write incomprehensible crap. Where did they learn it? They learned it from us”
So begins Frederick Crews in an interview about his book, Postmodern Pooh, a satire of the poor academic standards prevalent in contemporary literary criticism. The quote hits close to home since I’m working on writing my own graduate school essay right now. Another article from March 2002 on the blow up at Harvard over the comments the president, Lawrence Summers, made about Cornel West, suggests that academics are more interested in not offending or being offended by anything that might be said to them. I especially liked the following:
As Harvard Crimson (the Harvard daily newspaper) columnist Ross G Douthat asked, ‘Is there a slight contradiction between West’s prophetic contempt for material gain and his exquisitely tailored suits, comfortably tenured lifestyle, lucrative speaking gigs and fancy cars?’
The academy is as full as the rest of the world with vanity and politics. I just hope to navigate my way around and through it.