Ever notice how many college professors and graduate assistants are rather goofy? Or how they talk about how important it is to be “open-minded” when they themselves will not tolerate any real disagreement with their own views? Well, here’s an example of how all too many graduate students think courtesy of a weblog run by one of those rare grad students who is fairly level-headed:
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.
If it were not for the fact that I’m a former graduate student myself, I’d find this stuff patently unbelievable. The sad fact of the matter is that this nonsense is both all too real and prevalent in so-called institutions of higher learning.