I can guarantee that a Ph.D. in English offers no certainty of real critical thought. What it offers most of the time (particularly in fields like eco-crit) is the usual array of lefty cant. Instead of actually considering the literature as literature, which may have useful or beautiful things to say, most lit scholars these days are taught to judge works in terms of support (or lack of support) for current political agendas. The baleful influence of Foucault (which is essentially warmed-over Nietzsche) has led literary study away from looking at literature as anything but an indicator of power relations. The result is a sort of half-assed sociological reading of everything as text, and all texts are mere expressions of the hegemon's episteme. In short, it collapses into pure relativism in short order, and even fundamental ideas of logic and life as it is actually lived are disdained as mere constructs. By the way, this is also why the humanities are seen as the odd-sock drawer of academe. Too many of us have traded our birthrights for pots of message (to borrow a line from Chesterton). And it's almost always a lefty message.It's Tribal Indoctrination, not education. Three things come to mind, all post worthy (and which I've posted on in the past, so you can all relax ...):
1. I continue to claim that this is terribly damaging - politically - to the Left. Politics is about persuading the undecided middle, and the Democrats are increasingly unable to do so without resorting to lies or one-off tricks.
2. 'Puter is absolutely correct that the logical result of this Tribal Indoctrination is the current climate of incivility. The utter contempt for viewpoints opposing the current leftie meme du jour starts at the Academy. There's little common ground for actual discussion here, because a real discussion has to start with an assumption that your opponent argues from a position of integrity, whether he's right or wrong.
3. Since the Tribal Indoctrination is so obvious and pronounced, and since most of the country does not hold these Tribal Affiliations, what is the future of public higher education? What should be the future of public higher education?
Read the whole thing, which is packed with smart.
UPDATE 10 January 2010 14:39: Gettoputer leaves a comment pointing out that my excerpted quote was from Professor Mondo. His analysis is packed full of smart. And Midwest Chick also leaves a comment that is packed full of smart.