From The Chronicle of Higher Education: A Letter from a Graduate Student in the Humanities.
Benton goes on to criticize both professors who offer such encouragement to their would-be graduate students, and graduate students themselves for their “angry and incoherent” responses to his critique. While I understand that he and his ilk may be trying to help, I’m still confused about how they mean to do so—particularly with regard to those of us who did not benefit from their wisdom before embarking on our grad-school enterprise—since they largely fail to offer any meaningful solutions, or the ones they do are cavalier (for example, calls for graduate unions that garner little commitment from tenured faculty members).
Such pundits need to do what we TA’s tell our composition students to do: Offer potential solutions for the problem at hand. Writing the same meandering, pointless first draft of an argument does not constitute a valid contribution to the work of finding solutions. While our profession regularly excoriates the news media for overblown rhetoric, we seem to be better at articles that induce panic about our prospects than about, for example, jobs outside academe for which we might be suited. Just because we may not all get jobs at research institutions doesn’t mean we can’t contribute, and make a reasonable income to boot.