Authentic Academic Gibberish

One of the obscure classic satires of modern times is the “mockumentary” called “The Rutles,” a dead-on spoof of The Beatles as reimagined, sort of, by Monty Python. (Eric Idle was one of the main inspirations and stars of the late 1970s film, which is available on YouTube and elsewhere.)

One of my favorite scenes is Idle as “Prof. S.K. Krammerhead III, Jr,” described as “an occasional visiting professor of applied narcotics at the University of Pleaseyourself, California.” I can’t find an isolated clip of this scene on YouTube, but if you want to take it in, scroll forward to about the 3:35 mark in this 10-minute extract from the film (or skip to the transcript below):


“Listen, lookit, very simply, musicologically and ethnically, the Rutles were essentially empirical melangists of a rhythmically radical yet verbally passé and temporally transcendent lyrical content, welded with historically innovative melodical material transposed and transmogrified by angst of the Rutland ethic experience which elevated them from roughly alpha exponents of in essence merely beta potential harmonic material into the prime cultural exponents of aolean cadenzic cosmic stanza form.”

Transcribing that nearly broke my spell checker, but does it not resemble a lot of today’s academic jargon?

How about this, from Inside Higher Ed today, from an interview with Sidonie A. Smith, Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and author of a new book entitled Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times. Sounds possibly promising? No. Take in this answer:

Q: What is the “possibly posthuman humanities scholar” and how does this idea relate to doctoral education?

A: Writing this book, I came to see the new scholar subject as a performative of passionate singularity, hybrid materiality and networked relationality. This is one sense in which the humanities scholar that is becoming is possibly posthuman, and a posthumanist scholar. The locus of thinking, for the prosthetically extendable scholar joined along the currents of networked relationality, is an ensemble affair. It involves the scholar, the device, the algorithm, the code. It involves the design architecture of platform and tool, the experiential architecture of networks, and the economy of energy. It involves the cloud, the crowd and the “rooms,” bricks and mortar and virtual, in which scholarly thinking moves forward. Ultimately, thinking is a collaborative affair of multiple actors, human and nonhuman, virtual and material, elegantly orderly and unruly.

She’s putting us on, right? Did I take a very long nap and wake up on April 1? This is audition for a Rutles remake, right? (Or maybe a remake Getting Straight, if you know that obscure 1970 movie?)

If I was a student or parent of a student at the University of Michigan, I’d demand a tuition refund. “Higher” education has rarely sunk lower.

[Hat tip to Notre Dame Prof. Patrick Deneen for bringing this lowlight to my attention.]

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