Home / General / The Devolution of American Higher Ed., A Quick Illustration

The Devolution of American Higher Ed., A Quick Illustration



I was just reminded by Kathy Geier on FB and Twitter that when she was a student at Hunter College in the early 1990s, she took a comparative literature course with Philip Roth. According to Kathy, Roth had no TAs, designed the course himself, graded all the papers (and there was a lot of writing), and was paid reasonably.

As I am quoted as saying over there, what’s really strange about this is that Roth was apparently able to not only grade papers but — I know you’ll find this hard to believe — design a syllabus without an army of graduate students to help him. What an odd time, in which celebrity guest instructors were into reading books and writing books and stuff like that there, so much so that they might actually be experts in the fields they were hired to teach about or something. We can hardly expect the Great Men hired at much greater expense these days to concern themselves with such trivialities.

…Kathleen, in comments: Roth “taught that class because he seemed to enjoy teaching, and because he had a passion for literature. I’m sure that turning it into a Petraeus-like shakedown to leverage his celebrity to extract the maximum amount of money from the school while doing the minimum amount of work was the furthest thing from his mind.”

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