What hope remains for the masses of disillusioned graduate students, unemployed PhDs, and embittered faculty who still, despite everything, believe in ...

W帽子希望仍为大众幻想破灭的graduate students, unemployed PhDs, and embittered faculty who still, despite everything, believe in the fundamental virtue of teaching and interpreting literature? Two recent novels, Jordy Rosenberg’sConfessions of the Foxand Suzette Mayr’sDr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, turn to speculative fiction to grapple with the current specter of humanities in crisis. Both authors are associate professors of the humanities, Mayr at the University of Calgary and Rosenberg at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; neither is shy about portraying the indignities of their profession in the starkest possible light.

To different degrees, these books borrow from the tradition of the campus novel, a genre that lends itself to satirical send-ups of the eccentricities and pretensions of cloistered academic intellectualism. But as they dive into the workplace struggles of beleaguered professors, both shift the tradition’s typical realism, and its attendant mordant skepticism, into the register of the surreal.


Confessions of the Fox欠不是历史小说少的校园小说,但是这个复杂的文本是一个流派混搭。由于它打结了无数故事和哲学主题,酷儿理论,监狱废止,生命政治,殖民性,商品拜物教,以及更学术的情节展开的利润。在18世纪的小偷和民间英雄杰克·谢泼德的回忆录书中心,描绘成一个胆小的年轻的变性人试图动摇免费创伤的过去和声称拥有自己的身份的。



对于任何一个有人文教育的股份,the problems that plague our professor-heroes may seem depressingly familiar. Before their novels enter the realms of the surreal, Mayr and Rosenberg take aim at a number of shared and wholly real-world targets. Both their professors work in asbestos-ridden, dilapidated buildings while their campuses pour money into renovations elsewhere. Both lament the slashed budgets and diminished faculty of their departments. Both are sourly resigned to the corporate takeover of their institutions. Ludicrous jargon governs their work life: Dr. Vane is in imminent danger of being “refreshed”—fired—in accordance with the university’s new “EnhanceUs plan,” while Dr. Voth sneers at the “optimization” of his university’s library into administrative offices. And an eerily similar villain looms large over both texts: the dean, locus of institutional power, whose unofficial motto seems to be “discipline and punish” (Voth’s nemesis is literally the Dean of Surveillance).

在与校园小说传统,每本书奠定了基础来讽刺现代学院不脱离现实的边界。在上面的比喻是夸张讽刺的缘故,但几乎没有在幻想的境界。然而,Rosenberg和迈尔都使用校园生活的现实主义的批判作为发射台到超自然的。为什么一般的转变?关键似乎是一个意义上说,两个原本截然不同的文本共享,有关于现代学术的生活,无视普通代表什么奇特。现实主义是不够的,无论是捕捉落魄或者是一个21世纪的文科状元奇妙的可能性。Dr. Edith Vaneveers into the horror genre to account for the former,Confessionsinto utopian speculation to explore the latter.


Mayr, in particular, skewers the biases of the smugly enlightened academic workplace. Her novel is a chronicle of impostor syndrome experienced by a scholar whose apparent success—Edith has achieved the coveted status of tenured professor—is eroded by the racism, sexism, homophobia, and general elitist cruelty of her institution and colleagues. The book’s supernatural plot grows out of this entirely realistic horror story. It’s no wonder that Edith feels “she can’t pull off the professor masquerade and never will”: she’s yanked into group photos at a faculty reception because “we need more diversity”; she fears the dean’s disdain for her is emboldened by white male privilege.


The Great Global Grad School Novel

By Will Glovinsky

Worst of all is Dr. Lesley Hughes, a prestigious scholar who once served as Edith’s graduate advisor and reenters her life as a senior colleague. Lesley is a compendium of nearly every wrong inflicted on a graduate student by a supposed mentor; her extremes might seem absurd to a reader who has not kept up with 2018 headlines, where the sordid details of academic hierarchies continue to emerge.1I own you”this white woman used to sneer at her black advisee, scrawling “你要退学”在伊迪丝的写作和试图阻止她的毕业挥舞假档案证据在她的学位论文答辩的利润。

The forces in play are crystal clear. “For years and years,” Edith recalls, she was “Lesley’s cute and exotic-looking PhD student, her shy queer brown pet, and then when Edith was about to become a Doctor just like Lesley … Lesley curdled.” Yet the abundant evidence of Lesley’s unprofessionalism in no way diminishes her luminous career. Edith feels like an impostor because, in an institution fueled by exclusion and the consolidation of power, sheisone. She clings ferociously to her title, a small affirmation, even in situations of abasement: “I’m Dr. Edith Vane!” she repeatedly shouts in desperation, trapped in an elevator in another of Crawley Hall’s devious tricks.


Given the challenges these scholars face, one might reasonably ask: why not change careers? But Mayr and Rosenberg capture both the unequivocal joy and the potential power of scholarly work. Vane and Voth not only adore their source material but also experience their texts as life-changing forces for good in the world. Both dream that their work will revolutionize the traditional literary canon and counter prevailing (mis)representations of marginalized identities. Dr. Vane yearns for an unknown African Canadian memoirist to be recognized among the great writers of her country; she considers scholarship to be “her tribute, her temple erected to Beulah Crump-Withers,” a means of elevating the previously overlooked literary genius of a rural black housewife. Dr. Voth sees the Sheppard document as a chance to shift the discourse of transgender history from lurid sexological exploitation to courageous self-authorship.



InConfessions of the Fox,知识界的魔术变得比一个比喻了。小说的结局乌托邦想象的完全解放了奖学金,在Voth的普通工作生活的截然相反的一种境界,被困在奖励学术奉献,只是因为它产生的机构利润的系统。与P-四的计划,版权问题和卖出杰克Sheppard的历史编辑版本不只是经济:Voth的更深层次的担忧是偷窥顺性别造成的损害凝视跨故事。在什么Voth认为真实性的标志,Sheppard的供述拒绝把跨机构上显示为读者,直接挑战既杰克的白天和现代化的客观化医疗话语顺创作的叙事与反人民的生殖器执着痴迷。“需要读者能够想象,”在他的全部大写公文的一个坚持P-四的企业代表,要求Voth出示该文件的“缺页”:所谓的嵌合生殖器的明确说明。

有没有这样的页面,因为这不是那种文字。事实上,杰克的回忆录组成质量是沉默,不是因为害羞或inhibition-Confessionsis, among other things, an ardent paean to pussy—but a steadfast refusal to divulge secrets, both others’ and one’s own. Voth notes, for instance, that while Jack often recounts sex with his lover Bess in great detail, he never showcases her body for the reader, a tacit but firm recognition of the right of all people, sex workers like Bess included, to privacy and bodily autonomy.

Similarly, there are crucial elements of Jack’s story—physical and mental abuse, body dysmorphia, traumatic dissociation, the formative pain of “unheldness”—that Voth refuses on principle to unpack in user-friendly terms. As a man whose own body and troubled personal history are frequently scrutinized by prying outsiders, he cannot let this text and its sensitive delineation between storytelling and exploitation be betrayed. “There’s a difference between a confession one wants to give, and one that is taken,” Voth writes, a difference that is crucial to a humanistic enterprise and irrelevant to a private corporation trying to turn a sensationalist buck.




Guided by the manuscript’s gradually unfolding riddles, Voth executes a total escape from the oppressive forces of the neoliberal academy. He drives off the grid and into a Borgesian fantasy: a place he calls the Stretches, “a colossal library in chitin, spiderweb and glass.” There, a community of unknown beings—it is not clear if they are human—engages in a collective decolonization of history. Without revealing much—his story remains in the footnotes—Voth hints at a space of intellectual freedom, camaraderie, and mutual care. This new community得到him, his esoteric interests and radical desires, the way no one else (and certainly not his institution) ever could, or bothered to try.

Voth是谨慎关于他在绵延如何到达,但乐观地认为,读者可以跟踪他的去路。用抒情呼吁运动建设通过文学书结束;杰克的供述,与罗森堡的自己的书一起,被想象为集体生活解放一个正在进行的项目的档案。Voth写道,杰克的故事包含“有些事情我们。”这个“我们”特别冰雹同性恋和反人,人的肤色,和那些谁承担殖民创伤的历史遗留问题,但还邀请任何人感动的斗争中加入:“亲爱的读者,” Voth恳求在他最后的注脚,“如果你是-the一个我编辑本作中,一个是我偷的这个...你会找到自己的方式给我们。You will not need a map.

Is this a pure escapist fantasy, a utopian no-place? Or is there real hope for a grassroots rebuilding of the academic world? Rosenberg’s novel ends in tension between the utter impossibility of reaching a place like the Stretches—Voth says he has entered “a different timescale”—and the narrator’s earnest plea that we必须。朝乐观这个故事技巧的投机形式。我们几个可能驱走电网和到异次元库。但伸展,集体性,多样性,性别和性的流动性,对抗霸权遗产和废除盘踞形式的承诺的组织原则在这里,现在暴力提供给我们。现有的学院外,罗森堡指出,我们可能还没有开拓出空间,人文激进文化变革的模式。

The utopian register of Voth’s story is what allows him to triumph. Vane, trapped in her own, altogether different register of horror, is seemingly vanquished. In the book’s final lines, she waits to be rescued from the crumbling wreckage of Crawley Hall, unaware that she has transformed into one of the building’s ever-present hares. From one point of view, her victimization by the oppressive combination of neoliberal academy plus supernatural malevolence is complete.

In their speculative leaps, both novels offer different strategies for the defense of humanities scholarship.

Yet demotion from tenured professor to hare holds out its own possibility for resistance. Hares feature as a menacing and enigmatic presence throughout the novel, roaming the grounds and interiors of Crawley Hall. They frighten Edith, yet she also identifies with them: remembering how Lesley once called her “hare-brained,” she adopts the animal—intelligent, precocial, and nimbly equipped to outrun predators—as a personal totem. While she and her colleagues are constrained by institutional idiocies, hares freely run amok; they cause panic in classrooms, poop in elevators, and construct habitats in the greenery of the coffee lounge. All the hares’ weird activity amounts togetting in the wayof university business as usual; they are bugs in the system, stolidly indifferent to academic drama. Despite keen awareness of the injustices ruling her workplace, Dr. Vane the human can never muster herself to fight back. In choosing a form of institutional resistance, she could do worse than throw her lot in with the hares.

而离现实很远,小说s depict a profession in severe decline. But in their speculative leaps, they offer different strategies for the defense of humanities scholarship. Rosenberg’s guiding figure is the utopian fox: he holds out a vision of the radical institution we might, with much hard collaborative work, eventually build. Mayr’s figure is the hare saboteur: she suggests the utility of surreptitiously fighting the institution from within, however personally difficult that may be. Perhaps with these books, both authors are following the hare’s path, writing fiercely anti-institutional stories from their positions as employees of institutions. There are many such saboteurs in the modern academy, fighting to keep the most noble parts of their chosen profession alive despite the system’s tightening grip. As the old structures crumble, perhaps it is time to follow the fox and dream, then build, whatever we want to come next.

This article was commissioned by尼古拉斯·达姆图标

Featured image:(2018)。摄影:宣阮/ Unsplash