Friday, September 10, 2004

Okay, here's my big problem with "English" studies today. (warning: some sexual terminology is used).

Conversing with a fellow grad student, and I asked her about her dissertation topic.

She replied that she was writing her dissertation on Baseball.

I said something like this: "A lot of novels about baseball focus on the magical and fantastic aspects of it. Bernard Malamud's The Natural does an excellent job mixing the mythology of baseball with the mythology of the Fisher King. It also contains many aspects of magical realism. And of course, W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe uses many fantasy motifs - as its reasonably faithful adaptation into film, Field of Dreams, shows. Of course, the film version of The Natural changes the ending and does away with a lot of the fantasy, but -"

She interrupted: "I'm not doing that. I'm doing Baseball. Bats are obvious phallic symbols. The balls clearly represent sperm, which comes from the 'balls' of men. The gloves are symbolic vaginas, which accept and then reject the sperm. The gloves are worn on the hands, indicating masturbation fantasies. It's all very male, and has to do with discourses initiated in an attempt to exclude the feminine other by appropriating the methods and means of reproductive symbolism."

Clearly, not only does she see nothing odd about this, neither does her dissertation committee.

Do you want fame and fortune in English studies? Forget about outdated terms like "Literature" and focus on "texts." Anything can be a text. (To paraphrase Stanley Fish - if everything is a text, nothing is a text).

Next, use this "text" to insult men and/or Western Culture, score a few points for the far left, and that's it.

We no longer study literature. We don't even really study texts - we study whatever the hell we want - as long as it gives credence to the far left fantasies of (as Tom Wolfe calls them) the Rococo Marxists in our departments.

Sorry It's been nearly a month since I posted. My dissertation (which is on literature - no wonder I'm having a hard time selling it to my committee) is getting in the way.

But I promise to continue highlighting the oddities of the liberalism gone mad that is the modern "English" department.

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