Back in April, Rebecca Schuman published a piece on Slate titled “Thesis Hatement.” (Come on, lulz: low-hanging puns can be great.) Dan actually mentioned it as part of a “Saturday Links” blast. Despite the fact that it is sane, reality-based, and urgent without being shrill, “Thesis Hatement” caused a lot of Slate commenters (including a fair number of academics), to go batshit. She addresses the haters in a delightfully acidic response on her blog, Pan Kisses Kafka, which is part of the rapidly emerging “postacademic” community. (Post-acad stuff from other writers here and here and here and here, for starters. And also a recent piece RS wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education).
Given the seething response the essay got from some quarters, it bears repeating that Schuman’s piece is a humane, valuable polemic. I re-read it today as I sat in my studio apartment, just after I paid this month’s student-loan bill, in fact. (Back when I started graduate school I actually believed insane bullshit like “Student-loan is good debt.”). Her work is based on personal experience but is not narcissistic or even all that autobiographical. It is precise and witty. And it underscores some dreadful things that any reasonable person (even many tenured Boomers!) with a functional knowledge of US academic culture would have a difficult time refuting: that the present labor environment at too many American colleges and universities puts terrible psychological and social demands upon too many faculty, especially younger PhDs and graduate students; that it offers little material incentive for facing these challenges; and that it trains the tormented not only to accept their torment as a professional duty, but to view any escape from that torment as a personal and professional failure.
A bummer, I know. So here is a picture of Iggy Pop vacuuming his living room. Cheer up, y’all: it’s the weekend.