Sunday, April 22, 2007

We're Cut Adrift, We're Still Floating

So I was out Friday night for Ethiopian with a bunch of musicologists, which happens from time to time. One of them, a decent guy I met a wedding last May, had just been to an afternoon seminar on the “post-academic job track.”

Post-academic. That’s nice, huh? Very value neutral. But I think track is just as important rhetorically, even if it’s less obviously a euphemism. It makes you think of “tenure track.” It’s like there’s just these tracks, and you can take one track, or you can take another track. It’s all about the decision you make about which track to take. (And it’s not at all about failing at the one thing you’ve aimed your entire working life at, or realizing that grad school was a catastrophic waste of n of the most creative years of your life. It’s not about that at all.)

So apparently the university puts on these seminars about how to write a “resume”, as opposed to a CV and similar such useful tidbits of information. It’s sort of nice to know they do that. You see, the school gets n years of cheap, cheap grad student teaching labor from us, and they justify its cheapness by saying it’s apprenticeship for your future in academia. But it’s a bald-faced fucking lie that most people who start grad school in the humanities are going to have a career in academia. A bald-faced fucking lie. Most of them get kicked to the curb at some point along the way. So it’s sort of nice for the school to give you a two hour pep talk about “marketing your highly desirable skills” before your head hits the pavement.

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