Imagine that you are a graduate student in the US in a moribund field, in particular, Germanic Studies. Tenure lines in German are being closed down, departments of Germanic Studies disappear. This is quite paradoxical since Germany has become the most powerful and rich country in Europe. At the very moment when Germany is gaining – without invading anybody or shooting a single person, which for Germany is a big step forward – the prominence on the world arena that it has been seeking desperately enough to start two world wars, the US decides that Germany has lost all relevance and chooses to stop studying and teaching the German language and culture.
Surely, this is something that as a Germanist you might find interesting. You might even want to start (or join) a discussion about the reasons behind this strange and disturbing phenomenon.
Now imagine that you, a concerned, intelligent specialist in Germanic Studies, are given an opportunity to write for Die Welt, an important German newspaper with national readership. Here is a chance to do something for the field to which you have dedicated your life. Here is a golden opportunity to tell the German people what is going on, maybe play on their nationalist sentiment a little bit (“Americans think we are done for, what’s up with that?”, “The culture of Goethe is being disrespected in the US!”). Star a discussion, get things moving, questions brewing, discontent stewing. Even if you are guaranteed the best job in Germanic Studies in the US, it still matters to you that the field doesn’t disappear. Being the only Germanist on the continent is a sad and lonely affair. You need conferences in your discipline to be attended by people, journals be published by, once again, people, a scholarly exchange be conducted by this inescapable evil, other people.
But this is what you, an intelligent person, would do in this situation. A real graduate student in Germanic Studies used his opportunity to write for Die Welt to inform the German readers that academic blogger Rebecca Schuman is a sore loser and her writing is sometimes vulgar. In the eyes of this brave and engaged Germanist, Schuman is the biggest problem faced by the field of Germanic Studies today.
I have to say, folks, I love Germanic Studies, and if my field didn’t exist, German would be my second choice. But when I read about this kind of irredeemable stupidity, I can’t help thinking that the field whose Ivy League departments produce people of this intellectual caliber deserves to die. While their entire academic world is crumbling down around them, they vent their pathetic little grievances against bloggers who wrote some post they disliked.
I now have no hope whatsoever for this field.