14.12.04

POSSIBLE SOURCE OF COMPANY MAIL. Via SCSU Scholars, the Superintendent discovers Professor Plum, who has given some thought to why university graduates can't write a memorandum.
It seems that a lot of college students and college graduates can't write. And this is getting the corporate knickers in a twist. Here, for example, are excerpts from an article on just that topic.
(Excerpts omitted, click for details.) The good professor's hypothesis, however, is a bit kind to the English department.

One slight possibility is that college students are NOT taught to write so that OTHER persons get it. Instead, they are taught to write so that their PERFESSERS in English Departments get it. And this means writing according to the canon of postmodernism--namely:

1. Write as if your scholarship covers everything from ancient history to physics--when in fact you're an ignoramus with nothing useful to say.

2. Focus entirely on yourself and two or three other similarly-demented literaquacks who get off on their squalid prose.

3. Make sure every sentence contains one of the following terms: authentic, lived, empower, critical, literacy, voice, intersection, spirit, genre, space, time, dimension, publics, discourse, perspective, narrative, politics of, exploit.

4. Disguise your privileged life and complete self-absorption behind a curtain of smarmy rhetoric that exploits the pain and degradation of real people in whose service you pretend to work, as you sip Chardonnay and discuss the praxis of discourse at the Faculty Club.

Maybe. The laments I am hearing from colleagues supervising senior capstone papers (now required of all graduating economics majors, and we are producing close to 100 seniors a year) is that many of the writers have apparently not done any writing before. Whatever exposure they have had to the English Department falls short of exposure to the Code of Theorrhea.

Perhaps it is time to time-slip the English Department. Comparative advantages notwithstanding, we certainly are not doing a worse job of teaching writing. Perhaps we ought to be paid extra for taking on that function.

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