The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Higher Education Bubble: Feminist Postmodern Literary Criticism, Ph.D.

Posted on | January 12, 2015 | 80 Comments

The following specimen of decadent uselessness was produced by Laura Alexander, “a PhD candidate in English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her scholarly interests include Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, feminist theory, and women’s writing, and her research typically leads her to take interdisciplinary approaches to literature in her writing”:

In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous proposes l’ecriture feminine as a model that allows feminine desire, the language of the body, to reconstitute expression as a revolutionary movement against the masculine rhetorical structure that has defined language over time. . . .
Because feminine writing represents expression not only as writing but also as lived experience through the recreation of and through the body, I am focusing on Cixous’s model of a multidimensional being free from the constraints imposed on her through time. By employing female sexuality as a new feminine rhetoric, Cixous seeks to project expression through the image of the medusa, which symbolizes both feminine writing and feminism as a cultural, political, and linguistic movement. Just as the serpents on the medusa’s head reject the Freudian location of heterosexual feminine desires as active to passive sexual desire, so too must the many female selves (the metaphorical serpents unleashed) spread in diverse directions for fluid, feminine expression. . . .
Rather than phallocentric language that proposes lack as a perpetual human state, feminine writing offers woman a means to articulate the inner, silent she. As Cixous exhorts women to write the body, she argues that woman’s writing will redraw the politics of pleasure, allowing woman to release her many selves. These multiple selves correspond to the metaphoric snakes on the medusa’s head, also erogenous zones of the body, which cannot be liberated in a phallocentric system because they engender fear in “the abyss” that the “two horrifying myths” of castration and loss imply. . . .
Whereas “masculine sexuality gravitates around the penis,” female sexuality roves in “immense astral space not organized around any one sun” . . . Just so with feminine writing, which laughs through the medusa head and its discursive parts at language that imposes form on the formless. Unorganized through male dominated forms, the woman as medusa is woman as giver, no longer a commodity in a masculine economy but creative of “life, thought, [and] transformation” . . . The reconstitution of feminine writing and the female relationship with the male displaces Lacan’s Symbolic formulation of the dominating phallus because it possesses no order, no fixed binary. . . .

The whole thing is over 4,000 words, if you care to escape “the masculine rhetorical structure that has defined language over time” and enter the vortex of madness that is postmodern feminism.



80 Responses to “The Higher Education Bubble: Feminist Postmodern Literary Criticism, Ph.D.”

  1. DeadMessenger
    January 12th, 2015 @ 5:53 pm

    In other words, trouser snakes?

  2. InRussetShadows
    January 12th, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

    All feminists do and it usually comes from overthinking failed romantic relationships.

  3. K-Bob
    January 12th, 2015 @ 5:57 pm

    Don’t waste good scotch!

    I actually felt bad about that one prof who called me on it. He was a decent bloke, and I liked his lectures. But I had extra-curriculars to take care of at the time, and decent bloke or not, he got the snow job.

    Fortunately I learned my lesson. When you have a real boss, you don’t last long on the snow job circuit (unless you have an MBA from Harvard, then you can snow them all day long, and they ask for more).

  4. K-Bob
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    Can’t link it directly because NSFW. But scroll down about 1/3 of the page.

  5. jeffrey wood
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

    Well, she definitely doesn’t appear to have what is called an ordered mind, or systematic thought, which requires rigor as you point out. The instructions seem to be: “Have thoughts and feelings that you mistake for insight. Write them down as they randomly pop into your head. Use a thesaurus. Attack the phallus. Here’s your degree.”

  6. Jim R
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    Yes, lefties do loves them some victims, don’t they?

  7. Dana
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    Well, of course you’re right!

    And, alas! I’ve thought of another: women’s studies as a pre-law major, so that one can go on to sue normal people!

  8. Dana
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:33 pm

    Your comment assumes that anyone would give her beads for showing her tits.

  9. Jim R
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:33 pm

    I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Barring the discovery of new primary source material, what more is there really to say about such things as the Battle of Waterloo or the poetry of Walt Whitman?

  10. Dana
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

    By the Kinks:

  11. RS
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:43 pm

    The problem with the the view that “there’s no more which can be said,” is that we run the risk of losing the “institutional memory” of the canon. This is where we are now. Ms. Alexander will obtain a Ph.D. in English but will most likely never have read those works in American and British literature which stand the test of time. These new “scholars” see no benefit to studying the classics. Thus, they see no benefit to teaching them. And so, knowledge is lost over time, much to our detriment.

  12. concern00
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

    Not an endorsement, but the United States of Tara portrayed the sufferer of dissociative identity disorder as having male and female personas.

  13. Dana
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

    Lou Reed:

  14. M. Thompson
    January 12th, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

    Knew someone would come up with the approriate song.

  15. Dana
    January 12th, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

    Well, coming up with the appropriate song has become a problem: youtube always has other songs showing on the sidebar, and so far I’ve gone from Paint It Black to White Room to House of the Rising Sun and now the full 17 minute version of In A Gadda Vida is playing on the computer . . . and I’m not a 60s rock kind of guy.

    Only the courtesy not to totally thread-jack has kept me from adding those songs!

  16. Jim R
    January 12th, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

    This is where we are now. Ms. Alexander will obtain a Ph.D. in English but will most likely never have read those works in American and British literature which stand the test of time. These new “scholars” see no benefit to studying the classics.

    This is a big problem, IMO, and stems in part from the need to do “original” research when the field is flooded with people also doing “original research” and the fact that there’s only so much that can be researched. Throw in the snobbery of professors / research advisors (“You want to study THAT? Oh, no-no-no!”) and you’ve got a recipe for publishing outright drivel.

    It seems to me that, back in the “good ol’ days”, getting a degree, even a graduate degree, rested on demonstrating a thorough knowledge of “the canon”: one had to know one or more classical languages, for example, as well as have details of The Important Works at his fingertips. Now, “knowledge” is being tossed overboard to be replaced by “original work”… which is often non-rigorous, emotionally-charged drivel. Worse, the “canon”, as near as I can tell, is denigrated as “racist / sexist / ethnocentric / blah-blah-blah”. In history, for example, the “Great Man Theory” is pointedly eschewed: who cares what Caesar or Alexander or William or Washington did / thought? We need to understand how “the common man” (better, the common oppressed person) “experienced” history. There’s something in that, but there appears to be no room for BOTH.

    It seems to me that the point of studying history and literature is to understand how great people have understood Man and his universe: war, love, friendship, hate, rivalry, joy, adversity, triumph, failure… The great writers and historians tell us important lessons about these things. Throwing them out because they are “old” is the height of hubris and of folly. Making students demonstrate that they’ve read, marked and inwardly digested those works… THAT is education.

  17. DeadMessenger
    January 12th, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

    Good point, and I’d rather not dwell on that image, either.

  18. DeadMessenger
    January 12th, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

    Hell, I’m a statistician. My job revolves around some form of “precipitation” or other.

  19. Isa
    January 12th, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

    man, i only got halfway through that excerpt before i got dizzy.

  20. RS
    January 12th, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

    I agree 100% with your comment. This strikes home as I recently visited the webpage of my M.A graduate department to discover to my horror, that one may now obtain an M.A. in German literature without having read anything before 1800, including Martin Luther, who is responsible inter alia for standardizing the German language as we know it. Geez Louise in a chicken basket, what the hall is going on in the world?

  21. Jim R
    January 12th, 2015 @ 9:54 pm

    I shudder to think what the kids ARE required to read.

  22. RS
    January 12th, 2015 @ 10:02 pm

    Lou Reed:

    Sweet Jane

    We old farts have to stick together.

  23. K-Bob
    January 12th, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

    I think I’ll drink to that!

  24. Daniel Freeman
    January 12th, 2015 @ 11:07 pm

    She put her old souvenirs beads on again after flashing herself in the mirror, resulting in a giggling fit that left her telling Tom (her cat) “I’m soooo stoned…and that essay is soooo deep…” Then she fell asleep on the couch with Tom watching her hungrily, since she could no more remember to feed him than stumble to bed.

  25. Fail Burton
    January 13th, 2015 @ 1:45 am

    I was thinking more like the Seaview on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. That sub raped the ocean non-stop. I’m surprised feminists don’t write about submarines and torpedoes more or Santa going down the chimney all rapist-style and then there’s trains and their tunnels. Didn’t Archimedes invent a penis-sub that raped Athena or something? Or am I thinking of the Penishouse at Alexandria?

  26. Daniel Freeman
    January 13th, 2015 @ 2:33 am

    It was the fumes of bovine feces. As the ancient adage dictates, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit.”

  27. Daniel Freeman
    January 13th, 2015 @ 4:39 am

    Story time! I went to college back when “euro” was a prefix, not a currency, and developed a bad habit of writing verbosely. (Not to mention the sesquipedalophilia.)

    Later, after internet message boards became popular, I would sometimes slave over a post for hours. I thought it worth the effort, until I got hit with a “TL;DR.”

    I immediately decided to master the short form, so that my thoughts could sneak into people’s minds before their attention wandered. That was over a decade ago.


  28. Daniel Freeman
    January 14th, 2015 @ 4:49 am

    I think I might be going crazy by proxy. I’m no high priestess, but I know the sacred babble of feminism well enough now to do a passable imitation, and that frightens me.

  29. Maggie's Farm
    January 14th, 2015 @ 7:07 am

    Wednesday morning links

    Man Spent 12 Years in ‘Vegetative State,’ Says He was ‘Aware of Everything’ Fitness Trackers Only Help Rich People Get Thinner Brains, veins and bones as you’ve never seen them: Scanner reveals gruesome, high-definition images of the human body – Nex

  30. FMJRA 2.0: Walk On : The Other McCain
    January 17th, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

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