Gee, I wonder why people can’t stand PhDs?

The great news is that nobody reads the Chronicle of Higher Education but me and other academic junkies.

The bad news is that you don’t have to read the Chronicle of Higher Education to get gobsmacked with this attitude:


Can a Ph.D. who wears perfume made by an obscure order of French monks find happiness working in a town where everyone buys their clothes at the Farm King?

Retch, puke, vomit.

Ok, well, first of all, I wear very expensive perfume (from France even!) bought via this newfangled invenshun called the “world wide web.” Hoooooeeee! You can get jes’ ’bout anything via that thar computer! What’ll they think of next, Pa?!

Entitlement drips from every line in this essay:

The people on the train, with the exception of the hot-dog guy, were friendly and open. But they did make me doubt all the criticisms I have had of the way rural Americans are depicted in culturally elitist Hollywood movies. Turns out those movies have often done a fairly accurate job. I overheard the sad story of how one young man’s dreams of pop stardom were dashed when he failed to break the top 23 in the “American Idol” tryouts and was now on his way home to live the rest of his life in frustrated obscurity. I also listened to a chat about how much better life was in the town I was traveling to now that the new Walmart had opened.

It’s not pleasant to feel like one of those cultural elitists, but the truth is, I do not share the love of farming, “American Idol,” and Walmart that many Americans value. I’m certain those things have their charms, but they are not interesting to me, and are a fair bit of distance away from the kinds of cultural expressions that I want to experience in my life.

For Christ’s sakes. You eavesdrop on one conversation about a guy on a train who had the guts to try out for American Idol and that’s somehow a validation of rural backwardness? If American Idol’s viewing numbers are any indicator, one helluvalot of people in urban areas are watching, too. Cultural elitist? Please. You’re a classist (and not a very bright one) who was looking for reasons to validate your prejudice and somehow we’re supposed to believe that American Idol and Walmart are proof of something.

Oh, and it’s kind of–lifesaving–to have a store that has a fully stocked pharmacy in it. Walmart does make a difference, even if people who feel the need to tell others about their monk-made perfume don’t think it’s good enough for them.

And we were off! The interview had begun. It was clear to me that those people were really isolated from civilization out there, because no civilized people I knew asked questions about genocide before 9 a.m.—over bacon, no less.

Like OMG! I was expected to know my field before the butler had come with my morning tea! How dare they?!

Sorry, Princess, but in plenty of interviews, some of us have about 15 minutes to spend with you before evaluating you, and that means that we’re going to test you out during the time we have. I guess only rural people eat bacon or care about genocide during inconvenient times. How…culturally low can you get?

It was only in the past 10 years that the town had gotten rid of its last house with dirt floors. He also pointed out the vacant lot where the town had to seal and burn a house because the people living in it had let it go for so long that when the building inspector finally came, he found that the occupants, without plumbing, had been using litter boxes for years.

Like OMG! There are poor people there! And you can see them! Ewwwwww! I’m, so, like, grossed out! Of course, if this person were an actual urban dweller, human feces on the sidewalk wouldn’t phase her because homeless men and women–remaining human beings despite our fervent desire they cease existing—have to go somewhere. So if shit bothers you, best scamper back to the sanitized suburb you love so much.

And sure enough–Princess Jill lives in New Hampshire. Well, there’s a state that is a hotbed of cultural experience better than anywhere else, for sure.

During my professional lecture about my research, the questions were, as is usually the case in job interviews, more about the work of the questioner than about my scholarship: “Why didn’t you write about labor union activity in public?” Well, I didn’t write about labor unions because the book is about hippies and festivity, not labor unions. It’s a monograph, not an encyclopedia. “How did the theories of Bakhtin influence the hippies?” Most 17-year-old hippies had never even heard of Bakhtin, let alone read his theories. Come on, people. This is my research—not yours. Stop trying to show off to your colleagues.

And like OMG! People asked me about my research during the job talk! Don’t they know that my topic is more important than what they are thinking about because, well, I’m researching it! I mean, only a bunch of idiots would fail to see how my research is important because I did it! Justify why my topic is worthier than another? Ha! Only fools can’t see the inherent greatness! Glah. So beneath moi!

Next you thing you know, they’ll expect me to contribute to teaching that bores me! My GOD!

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I hated living in Blacksburg when I spent three years there at Virginia Tech. But it wasn’t the fault of my colleagues who were, for the most part, terrific scholars and who have become good friends. I couldn’t support my research very well in a rural area–I am an urban planner after all–and I, too, prefer urban areas.

But you have a choice when thinking about whether a job fits you or not. The facts are, most young scholars teach general education requirements at the beginning of their careers, and only departmental good guys like me willingly continue to teach heavy-load, introductory classes later in our careers. Few people teach nothing but classes in their specialization, and flouncing around that you are too good to teach general ed classes–the classes that pay everybody’s salary–makes you sound like a spoiled brat, not an underappreciated genius.

If you really can get better offers in better locations, then go get a better offer and then negotiate–or leave if the pasture is really greener. Nobody needs to hear your self-aggrandizing rationale for why you’re too good for something.

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