Mark Edmundson on Today's Humanities Graduate Students
I can't stress enough how despondent graduate students in the humanities often are at this point. They're some of the most admirable people to be found in their generation. With their prestigious undergraduate degrees, their splendid grades and board scores, they could go on to big-money careers in business and law. But they refuse. They want to study something that they're passionate about. Yet over time, almost all of them see that to thrive in the profession, they must make themselves marketable, and that often means betraying themselves. It means picking a subject that fits into the current conformity. It means spending years writing things that, on some deep level, they do not believe to be true. The exertion involved in having to get up every day, repair to one's word processor, and set to work defying one's nature in the interest of future employment, is not conducive to the psyche's health, or to the body's, either. These impressively gifted young men and women deserve better.