Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

This Week in Bitter Laughter (Academic Edition)

MLA #11 has come and gone, but not without plenty of commentary.  My favorite observations were from Adjunct Hulk:

#MLA11 IS LIKE MARVEL COMIC: FULL OF LOTS OF PEOPLE IN FUNNY CLOTHES, NAMEDROPPING OTHER PEOPLE IN FUNNY CLOTHES!!!

HULK SMASH SIX PAIRS OF NEW PURPLE PANTS AND SIX WHITE OXFORD SHIRTS INTO SUITCASE FOR #MLA11. HULK IS GONNA LOOK GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!

HULK WAITING FOR CALLBACKS. HULK NOT THIS NERVOUS SINCE TRYING OUT FOR AVENGERS IN ’63!!! STUPID CAPTAIN AMERICA. RUINED EVERYTHING.

Meanwhile, the author of The Paraphernalian wrote an eloquent “leaving academia” manifesto.  It was cross-posted at Inside Higher Ed, and the comments make for interesting reading (a nice mix of “good for you,” “you have a point, but I’m staying,” and “quit whining.”)  The Paraphernalian then wrote a thoughtful response.

Just in case you were thinking that law school might be a safer alternative to grad school, think again: the NY Times reports that today’s law graduates are dealing with a level of unemployment and debt that can make humanities grad students seem lucky in comparison (at least we get some of our tuition paid with TAships).  Worse, law schools are blatantly lying about their placement rates in a bid to keep enrollment rates and national rankings up.  Though humanities grad departments have a reputation for being vague when it comes to publicizing their placement rates (what counts as “placement” these days, anyway?), what the law schools are doing seems to verge on the criminal.

When it came to how one should dress for the MLA, plenty of vitriol was unleashed at the author of “Career Advice: The Interview Uniform,” which argued that MLA interviewees (particularly women) really should spend some money on a professional-looking suit.  I kind of agree with several of the commenters who wrote that 1) this is not an appropriate piece to publish only two days before the start of the MLA, and 2) the article starts off sensibly but then gets a little ridiculous in its fashion elitism.  Obviously I’m not experienced in the realm of academic interviews, but I’ve seen plenty of job candidates show up un-suited and be very well-received by faculty and students.  Overall, I’d say just be clean and comfortable–sure, you probably want to avoid sandals and jeans, but a business-type suit seems to be a bit much.

Finally,  “Portlandia.”  I suppose it’s technically about hipster Portland, not academia, but as the Postacademic folks point out, “it could totally apply to grad school during the coursework years once you substitute the periodicals Armisen and Brownstein banter about with, say, theory texts or obscure fiction.  Just set the clip in generic grad student housing and you get an idea what a UCI English and Comp Lit party, circa late 1990s, was like, in case you were ever wondering…”

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One comment on “This Week in Bitter Laughter (Academic Edition)

  1. Anthea
    January 24, 2011

    Yep, I’d agree with the Postacademic folk! I suspect that its very reminiscent of grad school during the late 90s. The behaviour of the characters certainly looks very familiar…execpt for when two of them get hit on the street.

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Anne McKnight

writing•translation•scholarship on Japan (and a few other things)

A Modern Girl / モダンガール

tales of travel, research, and life

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