Monday, August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Education

Ok, I just wanted a picture of
Betty Page somewhere on my Blog.
So, with all of this Pulp stuff rumbling through my head lately, a thought came to me. There are no classes in secondary or post-secondary education that focus on the Pulp Era of American Literature (at least not that I know of). This seems to me to be a great travesty.

Ok, lemme back up a bit and tell you where this line of thought came from.

I am in the process of registering for a Masters degree program with a new online school. I received my BS in History last August. Now, as you can imagine, a BS in History is about as useful as a man's nipple, so I either have to just eat the cost of a useless education, or expand and do something else. Right now, I have a good job with the State. And even with the cuts that my douche bag Governor has made to my benefits, it's still not a bad deal. Ok, it's about as good as I could get in the private sector. But, hey, it's a job. The point is, further education will probably not get me further in my job (only experience, or a specialized education that I don't find interesting AT ALL will do that). But, I need to defer my student loans for a bit longer until we can get more financially secure. Right now we're in that gray area, financially. We make too much for me to claim an Economic Hardship Forbearance, but we don't make enough to actually make payments on the loans yet. So, the compromise will be that I go back to study just for me. To that end, I am enrolling in a MA in History program, with the focus being Ancient Cultures. I think this will be very fun. And who knows, maybe someday they'll ask me to consult with the Stargate Program.

But the uselessness of my Bachelor's degree got me to thinking that, if I had it to do over, would I have chosen a different program of study? Probably. Maybe something more marketable, like Computer Science (though that always seemed kind of boring too). As a writer and fan of reading, I thought about a degree in English and Literature. The problem is, those classes require us to read really old crap that is no longer relevant to modern society except as historical references. None of the English and Literature classes I took ever had me reading anything remotely cool, or in a genre that I liked. Which led me to think of the fact that the Pulps are never covered.

If I were to ever teach an American Lit class, I would most likely have at least some portion of the curriculum dedicated to the Pulp Era. It was a very influential period, and much of it resonates with modern sensibilities. In my opinion, it was the last period where the Literature of the time reflected a sense of wonder and adventure. Post WWII and Cold War lit is always so depressing and doom saying. I think that's why people still love the Pulp heroes. We, as a people, need to believe in something good. Believe that it's possible to fight evil. Today, Comic Books are about as close as we get. And even there, modern comics are all about angst and darkness.

I dunno, maybe I'm just rambling now. I know I took a nice, circuitous route to get to my point. If I even had one at all. But, this is a blog, not a newspaper column. I'm not really required to make any sense, am I?


Scott Oden said...

If I could go back and redo my education, I'd probably get a degree in Near Eastern archaeology or Egyptology, teach at one of the Ivy League schools (if possible), and spend my dig seasons in Greece or Egypt.

If I did that, however, i probably wouldn't be a writer, so it's a toss-up . . .

Charles Gramlich said...

I bet there are some classes that deal with the stuff you like. At Xavier there is a course in SF offered at times. But they are rare and far between unfortunately. I agree with you about literature classes. a major reason I didn't get a degree in English

Tom Doolan said...

In high school, they occasionally offered a SF/F class. When I took it we had to read two books, one assigned and one chosen. The assigned one was George Orwell's 1984. Still one of the greatest "classics" I have ever read. For my chosen one, I read the first Ace edition of Conan (which at the time, I thought it was a novel that the movie was based on). Thus began my love of REH.