So William Pannapacker/Thomas H. Benton has created another Xtranormal video describing the tragicomedy that is the Ph.D. process in the humanities, this time capturing the awkward interactions between grad chair and prospective grad student. In our latest episode, Pannapacker’s grad chair authority figure is back, but, as apropos of academia, our heroine from the original vid has long been chewed up and spit out by the system, replaced by new blood/fresh meat in the form of an incoming grad student. And it’s good timing for the new YouTube, too, considering how grad school admissions decisions are around the corner. I know it’s just because the computerized characters are necessarily glitchy, but the virtual cartoon people really capture the eerie nervousness and anxiety of mentor-student relationships, which is only accentuated by the spacey neo-muzak in the background. Enjoy!
The feel-bad hit of the academic job application season “So You Want to Get a Ph.D. in the Humanities” has spawned its own subgenre, including the not-as-funny, not-as-well-received, longer-winded retort “Yes, I Want to Get a Ph.D. in the Humanities” as well as other discipline-specific narratives for poli sci, law school, philosophy, and film. But best yet is the sequel to the original created by none other than the patron saint of sites like ours, Thomas H. Benton/William Pannapacker. His version revisits the earnest would-be grad student nine years down the line, scraping by as an adjunct and more than willing to do so. As he describes his clip, “Our intrepid young English major finally completes her doctoral degree, and is appropriately rewarded.” The scary thing about the humorous video is that grad students of this generation have already internalized much of what seems so horrific about the job market so that very little of it seems over the top. We can’t embed XtraNormal videos on WordPress, but go over to the Chronicle Brainstorm page to see “So You Want to Get a Ph.D. in the Humanities: 9 Years Later” for yourself.
…this xtranormal video “So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities” (below) will have to suffice. It was tipped to us by one of our oldest and best blog friends Gradland, and I’ve noticed since that it has been slowly but surely popping up on many a Facebook status update. The thing really speaks for itself, but the video really picks up at about the 1 minute 15 sec mark, when the prof tells the student, “I’m tempted to throw you out of this office, that I share with four other professors.” Anyway, the four-and-a-half minute clip slams Harold Bloom, debunks the myth of flexible time, offers a perfect short-but-sweet explanation of the two-body-problem, and makes you fear a world with Tea Party overlords — and all of it is made better and more unnerving thanks to the robot voices that actually replicate an office-hour back-and-forth with eerie accuracy. Basically, the mini tour-de-force might have just rendered Post Academic obsolete.
OK, I’m getting out of the way, but suffice it to say that we may have all been the student at some point in our lives, but we really wish we could be that professor at least once in our careers.