Theory Teacher's Blog

So… You Still Want Humanities? (The Sequel)

Last semester, I blogged extensively about this Xtranormal Video “So You Want To Get a PhD in the Humanities” that went viral on the internet at the end of October, 2010. My blog post about the original video is [here] and about the conservative reaction to it that soon followed [here]. It seems that since then, just this January, somebody else made a sequel to the original entitled “Nine Years Later.” I don’t have too much to say about it, but since I blogged about the first two, I figured I’d follow up with this one. Last semester, my argument was basically that the humor of the videos only makes sense in its specific political context, and I’d make the same argument about this new one, except that this new one isn’t all that funny to me. See for yourself here:

What is supposed to be funny is how obtuse her advisor is about the financial reality of her situation. This basically reverses the roles of the original video in which the student was insistently obtuse and the professor frustrated. Of course, in reality, most advisors are quite aware of the problem facing academia today. The exigency (or timeliness and urgency) and what Aristotle called the kairos of this video is the recent budget cuts to higher education by state legislatures across the country. University presidents have actively protested these budget cuts. For example, the president of the University of Minnesota [see here] and the president of Penn State University [see here]. Students have also protested in Albany, New York [see here], and you may remember that it was the State University of New York in Albany’s elimination of several departments that prompted the first “So You Want To Get a PhD…” video. The upshot of all this is that higher education in the United States appears to be downsizing, and this is scary.

Questions I could explore in this blog post include (1) Why isn’t the new video as funny as the first one? (2) What the heck is causing all this mess in the first place? (3) What intended and unintended effects might we expect to see in the future? And (4) does this video spur us to actually do something about it, and what might that something be?

But for the first time in the history of this blog, I’m not going to explore them. I’m too pissed off.

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March 31, 2011 - Posted by | media, teaching

1 Comment »

  1. I couldn’t get through the video at all. The first one was at least so outrageous that I kept listening, but this one (as you say) is not funny at all. It feels like a basic statement of fact, and why would I watch that when the only thing my friends and I ever talk about is this situation? The video can’t possibly say anything I haven’t already said before.

    Furthermore, now that my own employment is in jeopardy (and therefore my whole career), I desire a lot less to see a representation of it. The first video was satire, but this is just documentary.

    Comment by Shawna | March 31, 2011 | Reply


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