May 03, 2003

"Make Sure that the Faculty There Are Not All Dead"

"Before choosing any program, make sure that the faculty there are not all dead. Anecdotally, at least, it appears that some schools with excellent faculties do not have any non-dead faculty members. And some programs with exceptional faculties -- like the Apostles of Galilee -- simply have no track record, as of yet, for immortality. See the listing of Prominent Faculty Who Are Dead in Part II of the Report. (Of course, this advice does not apply to students seeking admission to the Sixth Circle -- see below.) (TH)"

-- from The Lighter Report, a parody of The Philosophical Gourmet Report (which already seems self-parodic in its ambitions: so a parody of a parody?)

Via the comments section to my entry on Anxiety and Insecurity, Ted Hinchman of diachronic agency directs us to an important source of practical information for prospective Ph.D. candidates in philosophy. Though specifically aimed at would-be philosophers, who face the daunting task of selecting from amongst such world-class programmes as The Sixth Circle of Hell, the University of Texas at Austin, and the School of Zeno and Chrysippus, this no-nonsense guide offers a wealth of advice that might also be applied more broadly. Indeed, I've been so concerned on this blog to advise people against entering humanities graduate programmes in the first place that I've neglected to provide much-needed words of wisdom for those who will insist on following their scholarly lights down the well-worn path to academic proletarianization. Take, for example, the following nugget:

"Students should also beware of 'masthead' appointments -- big names that show up on paper but rarely in person. Soon after Oxford advertised the appointment of John Locke, for example, he skipped town for a series of leaves (1665-6 in Brandenburg; 1667-1675 in London; 1675-1679 in France; 1683-1689 in Holland). Some of his orphaned advisees are still trying to schedule their dissertation defenses. (DH)"

My inside sources inform me that Thomas Hobbes' advisees fared even worse, largely because they had enrolled in a programme that lacked official affiliation, but also because their mentor had too many enemies at Oxford. Some of them lost their heads during the Rump Parliament. Please be sure your graduate programme of choice has been officially accredited by the proper authorities.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at May 3, 2003 10:20 PM

Hobbes and Locke are probably still listed on Oxford's website under emeritus. I know many a department that keeps their faculty who are six feet under elevated 20 feet above ground.

Posted by: John Lemon at May 4, 2003 08:54 PM