This, from Avidly, is one of the loveliest and most eloquent accounts of why – even after you have heard the arguments against  – it might still be a great thing to do, to go to graduate school in the humanities. The author, Pete Coviello, suggests that the first value is that you learn a language which makes the quality of the world visible:

You are enjoined to develop an analytic vocabulary that equips you, first, actually to see the world unfolding around as in fact possessed of a detailed, finely-textured intricacy, and second, to describe that intricacy, and why it matters, with clarity and precision and grace.

And the second value is that you do that together, collectively, as part of a scene with others. The combination of these two qualities may have persistent worth:

In this way, if you’re lucky, the trade-languages of your discipline can get interfused with the heated, ambulatory, extravagant kinds of talk by which the intimate worlds you assemble in these years are sustained, worlds that are marked by frustration and fear, without question – it is graduate school – but also by great quantities of intellectual exhilaration, and hilarity, and care. Eventually, of course, years, and the demands of varying modes of life, will have their dispersive effects. But one of the things you may find you’re left with in the aftermath of all that upheaval and displacement, along with your questionably-valuable degree, is just that mixed and variegated language, that winning idiolect. Continuing to trade versions of it back and forth across windening distances, you may find, is one of the ways the best, most energizing aspects of those worlds can be nurtured, transformed, extended into unforeseen futures.

Read the whole article here.

Advertisements