Post Academic

The Semi-Notorious New Yorker Cover

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWow. That New Yorker cover by Daniel Clowes, which depicts a PhD moving back in with his parents and hanging his advanced diploma on the wall hit too close to home. Gina Barreca wrote over at Brainstorm, “We wonder whether the implication is that Ph.D.’s are worth as much as third-place ribbons—and are as easy to obtain.”

Eh. Somehow I don’t envision that New Yorker cover convincing a lot of readers that PhDs are deluded individuals who are doomed to return to Mom and Dad’s basement.

Yes, the portrait creates an unflattering picture of those with advanced degrees, but the reason it stings is that it makes New Yorker readers with PhDs feel like they’re being attacked by their own kind. That’s reason enough to dislike the cover, and I find it annoying because it perpetuates grad student/professor stereotypes. I don’t think, however, that the cover has a strong enough message to convince a person who is on the fence about the value of advanced degrees to dismiss such degrees entirely.

People move back in with their parents all the time because their grand life dreams didn’t work out, but it doesn’t mean there’s a reason to condemn the profession they chose. After all, people still go to the theater and go to rock shows, and for every successful actor or band, there’s probably about 10 people living in their Mom and Dad’s basements.

I posted the image of the New Yorker cover because I’m analyzing it for a semi-scholarly reason. I am fully aware that I’m pushing it with that rationale, so I kept the image small. If you want to see the image in detail, buy your own copy of the magazine.

“Howling Mad” Murdock Was Totally a Liberal Arts Grad Student

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionSo McSweeney’s has had a field day with liberal arts majors lately, and a recent satire re-imagines the stock “Team Assembly” scene so popular in action flicks. Usually, action-movie “Team Assembly” involves gathering individuals with special skills that are deployed at just the right time. Blame the “Seven Samurai” for this plot.

Every action-movie team has the brains, the muscle, the sex magnet, the leader … and of course the Batsh*t Insane one. For you pop-culture buffs, that’s “Howling Mad” Murdock from the “A Team.”

Well, who better to be the crazy person on a team than a liberal arts major? Who else is more nuts than that? The “team leader” in Michael Lacher’s satire says,

Your midterm paper on the semiotics of Band of Outsiders turned a lot of heads at mission control. Your performance in Biology For Non-Science Majors was impressive, matched only by your mastery of second-year Portuguese. And a lot of the research we do here couldn’t have happened without your groundbreaking work on suburban malaise and its representation and repression in John Hughes’ films.

Yup. That’s a sign of a nutty mo-fo who has just the right spirit to lead a team into workplace battle. Remember that, hiring managers. Don’t dismiss the resume of a liberal arts major. You might just need a crazy visionary on your team some day.

The Only Thing That Can Stop This Asteroid Is Your Liberal Arts Degree [McSweeney’s]

Image of A Team van graffiti by Hannu from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Can We Ban the Connection Between Grad Students and Coffee Jockeys? Please?

Posted in Surviving Grad School by Caroline Roberts on April 7, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionIn a recent Gawker post on how more students from other countries are entering American graduate programs, commenters immediately linked grad students to coffee jockeys. Grad school clichés follow:

“One of the tiny, tiny comforts of being a science grad student as opposed to liberal arts is that you know after it’s all said and done and you got a little more stipend than the others you can at least get a post doc…maybe. And what will the English grad students do? Coffee shop most probably.”

“Hey look at me, I’ve got a pony-tail and made $3000 last year.”

“When I went to grad school, I remember that students returning to their countries had some pretty effin cool gigs lined up whereas those staying in the U.S. were scrambling for the last few teaching jobs/starbucks barista positions.”

“I’ll have a grande caramel CPA, thanks. Hold the core classes.”*

Fair enough that grad students don’t get jobs easily, nor do they tend to get lucrative jobs, but I don’t know anyone who worked in a coffee shop. Most of the people I knew in grad school tutored or taught SAT classes. Where did the coffee shop idea come up? And what’s so bad about a coffee shop?**