My own snobbery

I recently read an article, The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, and as I read it, felt vindicated for opting to go to a small liberal arts college instead of applying to Ivy schools that I couldn’t afford. I was also vindicated by being rejected by those same Ivies for graduate school–because apparently the University valued my humanistic education. I had also prided myself at still being able to communicate with those not-as-educated as myself. And then the past few days had to prove me a hypocrite. It was incredibly refreshing to spend the weekend with Kelly and Philip–to be able to weave in and out of conversations about WWI, the Ottoman Empire, Post-colonial theory, Germanic barbarians, the Attolia trilogy, pre-Malory Arthurian tales, Firefly and Star Trek, our non-denominational selves being able to laugh at Christianity, world-building and writing fantasy, audio hallucinations, etc. I haven’t had a peer in San Antonio, and it is something I have hungered for. Something that makes me miss Kelly terribly, something that makes me glad to be going to grad school, to be back in an academic setting, where I am among “my own kind,” so to speak. And then I am aware of my own intellectual snobbery.

My job this summer has been at a corporate real estate firm. This is my last week, and so people are finally asking, “So why are you leaving? What are you doing?” I answer that I’m starting graduate school, and then answer the following question with, “Mediaeval English Literature.” They blink, they stare, they waffle and say something about did I know Donald Trump wants to build a golf course in Scotland and I say yes, yes I do. The business-persons want to know what am I going to do with this degree. The maintenance techs nod, impressed, but still are unsure how to respond. One property manager, who also spent eight years in Europe, spends the lunch break talking with me about politics and society in general–this has helped make the summer bearable. And one person actually laughed at me to my face. I’m still unsure how to interpret it, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m leaving. They are all surprised that I’m studying Mediaeval Literature, and none of them asked before now what my degrees were from college. Perhaps Kelly is right, that the postmodernists were right, and we are all drifting away from each other after all.

Regardless of being a snob, or not, I will be glad to leave and be where I’m in fertile soil again. A semi-desert is a nice place to visit, but there is nothing for me here. I feel a little like Shevek, who has to go away in order to be heard. True voyage is return. Hm.

3 thoughts on “My own snobbery

  1. Kelly says:

    If you’re going to revolutionize scholarship like Shevek, then I am formally kicking you out of the USA–for posterity’s own good.

    It’s your last week at work, and then you’ll be back to the tutorial method of learning, the one that really makes sense. (Grumbles: unlike American liberal arts schools where you spend whole semesters studying things that may or may not actually be related to your area of interest.)



  2. Chera says:

    *mumbles bashfully* I didn’t say I would be Shevek, just that I felt like him. He is incredibly more intelligent than I am, and more than half the time I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to learn, and because I have no reason not to.

    Ah yes, our liberal arts dilemma… I like that I can talk across fields, and yet still feel terribly inept in any one of them. I wish I remembered facts from my history classes better.


  3. Felicity says:

    What you have written here mirrors many of my own feelings. I can’t wait to be in the academic setting again. I may be among Archaeologists, but they focus on pre-historic Native Americans, and can’t possibly fathom why I would want to study Medieval History.


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