On Academic Navel-Gazing
When I was a senior in college, I received an assignment from one of my professors to write an open-ended essay on the topic of “Who Am I?” I don’t know why the professor did it. The “Who Am I?” nonsense had nothing to do with the subject of the class. But he was a young fella and liked to do things unconventionally; perhaps this was his way of thinking outside the box. Whatever the reason, the assignment irritated me a great deal.
In the course of my academic career up to that point, there had been a number of occasions when I had to write a wistful essay (or alternatively, a humorous one) on the subject of Who I Am. I had always hated that topic for the self-congratulatory fakery it invites. And on that particular occasion, in my senior year, I decided to write the professor a letter protesting the topic, and submit it in lieu of the required essay.
This weekend, while clearing out some old papers, I came across a draft of that letter. Here is what I wrote (first couple of paragraphs omitted): Read more…
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