Friday, January 04, 2013

Should You Go To Grad School for literature?

My story. By | SLATE - Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 

Overloaded student in library.
Please don't waste your life this way Photograph by Otmar Winterleitner/iStockPhoto.

Apparently, people have been talking. Recently I received an email from an editor at Bookforum who was asking a number of writers to contribute essays to a book to be called Should I Go to Grad School? for an institution called the Platform for Pedagogy.
She told me, somewhat mysteriously, slightly ominously: “Several people have mentioned that you have strong feelings on the subject.”

Hm. It’s true, I had recently spoken to a grad school class on Shakespeare at NYU (led by my colleague, the gifted poet and memoirist Meghan O’Rourke) about my book The Shakespeare Wars. And if all grad school teachers of literature were like her, I would have no problem with the institution.

But I must admit I expressed some very “strong feelings” in that class. Specifically about the controversy stirred up by some academics who have arrogated to themselves spurious authority to discard parts of Hamlet. I had indeed emphatically warned the impressively bright students in the seminar against the kind of grad school-nurtured exegesis of Shakespeare most egregiously represented by James Shapiro in the section of his book, 1599, wherein he purports to read Shakespeare’s mind and discover that Shakespeare would have wanted to cut, trash, delete, and disappear Hamlet’s final soliloquy; one of the high points of the play and of Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre.

Full piece at Slate.

No comments: