On April 1, the Litcritological Subcommittee of the multiracial, multicultural, multidisciplinary Re/Visioning Committee for a 21st-century Doctorate presented the English Department with a plan that will make Lagado University the first in the United States with a doctoral program fully adapted to the needs of the 21st-century American graduate student.
The plan integrates our copyrighted fail-safe grading system (which has been safeguarding graduate students against any possibility of course failure since 1984) with a totally reconceptualized set of terminal examinations and dissertation parameters for the new “Ph.D.lite.”
The subcommittee’s model for a revised written examination emphasizes multiple-choice and true/false “items” (grad students react negatively to the word “question”). Graduate students who have completed all of their course requirements will be invited to respond to at least 200 items correctly. There are to be no penalties for incorrect responses, but there must be at least 200 correct replies for a student to pass. The test is to incorporate 1,500 items altogether, all of them based on readings from the Glibb Notes for Graduate Students series, including 175 which register a perfect 1.000 on the Clinton/Kendall Ambiguity Index (i.e., true/false “questions” which are both true and false, and multiple choice “questions” with four correct, and no incorrect, answers). This arrangement allows a selection adapted to the cultural background, abilities, and academic preparation of any possible doctoral candidate.
At the plenary session held to discuss the proposed written test, George S. Stodgett, the department’s senior professor, objected to the provision of Albanian, Spanish, and Creole versions on the grounds that the purpose of the test is to assess competence for a degree in English. A motion from Prof Ikuna Gheg (translated by her graduate assistant, Jason Hasangjakai) to censure Professor Stodgett for demonization, insensitivity, mono-culturalism, xenophobia, and anglo-lingual chauvinism passed 49 to one.
The Ph.D.] Oral and Activities Examination considered at the second plenary session incorporates a predetermined list of multiculturally accessible items designed to ensure interrogatory equity and uniformity for all. In addition, Ph.D.l candidates will be able to select their examination committee. Representatives from the Omnium Gatherum of People Unwhite; Brethren Outed and Otherized; Sistern Soured on Society; Students Against War, Fascism, and Homelessness; the Lagado University Native American (Truly Indigenous) Coalition; the Front for Apodal/Unipodal Voiceless Victims of Verbal Violence; the Pan-Indigene Survivors Society for Educational Diversity; the Outraged Feminists Front; the Albino Rage Commando; and the Callisteatopygian Coalition will be present at all oral examinations to monitor the tones of voice, facial expressions, and body language of the examiners for any signs of racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativism, homoabilitarianism, and lookism, A sign-language option will be available for the differently abled.
Once again. Professor Stodgett strained his colleagues’ patience with a lot of pre-postmodernist carping and quibbling, going on and on with an interminable list of objections to these test items:
#1. Demonstrate ability to sing the Internationale—words and music—all the way through.
#2. Demonstrate the ability effectively to employ ten “ism” nouns, six “ize” verbs, and six variant uses of “with regard to/in respect to” during five minutes of oral presentation.
#3. Demonstrate the ability to read silently without lip movements.
#4. Demonstrate the ability to place the page one is reading so that there will be no shadows upon it.
#5. Demonstrate the ability to verblobbize two plain expository passages of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility into nauseating unintelligibility.
#6. Demonstrate the ability to opheliate (i.e., transgenderize) comprehensively one soliloquy from Hamlet.
#7. Demonstrate the ability to devise 16 different interpretations of an instructional leaflet for operating a tea kettle.
#8. Demonstrate the inability to understand what any given author is trying to say.
#9. Demonstrate an ability to empathize for five contiguous minutes with the grievances of members of a culturally marginalized group (to be chosen by sortition).
#10. Demonstrate the ability (when applicable) to apologize effectively for being a white male heterosexual.
As he concluded enumerating his objections to number ten, Stodgett’s colleagues decided that enough was sufficient and voted 49 to one to expel him from the meeting for demonstrating an inability to communicate effectively with his peers. The remaining members voted unanimously to approve all items on the list without further discussion.
The crown and crux of the subcommittee’s work are found in the provisions for ensuring that all students enrolled in the LU/English graduate program will successfully terminate. First, the subcommittee has drawn up a list of 75 easily inflatable and utterly untestable hypotheses upon which its Ph.D.l candidates can base their dissertations. Second, Ph.D.l. candidates who have completed their examinations will have 25 years to complete their dissertations with an extension of 25 years available for all students over 40 years of age. Third, a course on Prof Gustave Grenouille-Chanson’s non-hierarchical, multi-plural, pluri-valent “Cognitive-Discursive/ Random Obnubilation Media” will replace ENG 0.97 (“Pre-Postamodern Remediation for Graduate Students”), ENG 0.98 (“Postmodern English as a Second Language”), and LIT 99.0 (“Litcritalian for Litcriticians”).
Grenouille-Chanson’s CD-ROM works by activating a series of “random integration from the paradigmacopia of nonceptual interpretive terminologies” macro strings. This automatically produces a critico-dialogical carnevalesque which plays out a fluid, freeform, unending theoretical puissance.
A simple click of the RIPNIT icon on the grad student’s computer screen initiates a search and retrieval operation which links a series of cryptic neologisms, energetic and arbitrary verbs, opaque ismatisms, baffling alitalities, impenetrable izationates, commanding adverbs, and turbocharged adjectives randomly chosen from a comprehensive database of both structuralist and poststructuralist works. These discursive components are automatically sorted into protracted sentences complete with subjects, verbs, objects, and plenty of endlessly elongated subordinate clauses, insanely abstruse insubordinate clauses, and bewildering parenthetical obiter dicta. The sentences are then sorted into paragraphs arranged (according to the user’s metrical predilections) in one of three simple rhythmic structures: antispastic, fourth epitrite, or dispondee. The paragraphs are then garnished with appropriate footnotes and quotes from leading continental theorists.
A brief sample of the Cognitive-Discursive/ Random Obnubilation Media composition, ripnitted from the works of Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari, illustrates the efficacy of its operation:
An objet petit a is analogous to a rapidly moving rhizome; that is, a two-sided entity, yielding a key or grid equally present in the signifying and the signified series. It maneuvers nomadically through the text, at once word and thing, name and object, sense and denotatus, expression and designation, exploring the semantic, phonetic, and morphological connections silently, laboriously, obsessionally, compulsively; and with the stealth of a thief in the night it swells up with everything it had previously swallowed but is pregnant only with itself It guarantees, therefore, the convergence of the two series which it traverses, an abject object, an occupant without a place, always supernumerary and displaced. Thus we disclose a text containing no unit of occurrence, fixed form, identifiable theme, or imaginary determinable as such. It contains no themes, but only anthems, scattered throughout and collecting everywhere.
The department is convinced that Grenouille-Chanson’s program will enable every single individual in the North American population—regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, and location on the lower western slope of the Bell Curve—to output litcritological dissertations in printer’s ream lots.
Prof. Harry Glibb, the subcommittee chairmammal, presented a chart which showed the department reaching an annual production of 65.3 Ph.D.lites by 2004 and then rising steadily to a peak of 1,311.5 by the year 2025. A second chart showed how the 3 5-year trend in “grade inflation” is being replicated by the galloping growth of “degree inflation,” aided and abetted by large numbers of taxpayers determined to paper their young with academic credentials of every kind. This phenomenon will ensure increasing employment opportunities for the swelling flood of Ph.D.l’s flowing from America’s graduate schools.
A third chart, based on the assumption that all institutions of higher education in the country will, sooner or later, institute Ph.D.l degree programs of their own in every discipline, showed that by 2025 every single adult on the North American continent with an IQ and/or pulse rate registering at 3 3 and above will have a Ph.D.l in some discipline or another.
Harry’s fourth chart showed that the existing English faculty will all be retired well before the saturation point is reached.
The faculty congratulated the Re/Visioning Committee for a job well done. They congratulated Harry Glibb for his inspiring presentation. They congratulated Chairmammal Fish for initiating the process. They congratulated themselves for not being complicitous in hegemonic arrangements of power.
Lagado University’s president, W. Wittering Bleatley, congratulated the English Department, predicting that Lagado University was destined to be the international pacesetter and pathfinder in the quest for equal educational access and egress for all. The president lyrically limned a visionary picture of an America populated with Doctors of Philosophy (lite). We quote from his peroration:
Our species will, at last, begin to harmonize itself in earnest. . . . The Featherless Biped will be empowered to master first the semiconscious and then also the unconscious processes of hir own organism—breathing, the circulation of the blood, digestion, reproduction —and, within the necessary limits, will subordinate them to the common good. Even purely physiological life will become collectively experimental. The human species, the sluggish Homo sapiens, will once again enter the state of radical reconstruction and will become in its own hands the object of the most complex methods of multicultural-psychophysical training. . . . Passing out of graduate school, the Featherless Biped will make it hir goal to exalt hir own emotions, to elevate hir instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent. . . to create a higher sociobiological type, a supermammal if you will. . . . Equipped with advanced degrees, the Featherless Biped will become incomparably stronger, wiser, subtler. Hir body will become more harmonious, hir movements more rhythmic, hir voice more melodious. The ordinary forms of mammalhood will rise to the heights of Ph.D.’s, J.D.’s, LL.D.’s. And beyond this ridge, other peaks will emerge; PostPh.D.’s, SuperJ.D.’s, Über-LL.D.’s. The possibilities are glorious, the promise of expansion endless.
President Bleatiey also predicted that his children would live to see the campus of Lagado University stretching from the Wyoming border to the Missouri River.
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