Jon Sanders

Dear aspiring university professor,

Happy discredited-patriarchy-established New Year!

As you know, it is wildly popular to find new "literatures" to make up incredibly easy-to-teach courses that let you lecture on "cruise control" while you spend your time preparing for far-off academic conferences about how the fate of the nation hinges on forcing kids to stop saying "you guys." Unfortunately for you, all of the good topics — comic books, movies, TV shows, lesbian pulp fiction (alas!), pornography (alack!), video games, advertisements —seem to have been taken. Goodness, even queer pets and queering food studies have already been taken!

What that means for you is that somewhere, some lucky harridan is already getting herself tenure with a course couched in the language of "teaching students to think critically about what [insert one of the aforementioned cultural dregs here] teaches us about how we as a society view issues of race, gender, and sexuality." She's the one receiving the invitations to speak from Maui to Toronto. She's the one getting published in the journals that only her department, your department, and your peers' departments buy. She's carved out her lifelong niche. You won't be able to displace her from her slop-slinging sinecure; she's got no place else to go. You, however, need something new.

That's where I can help you. I have found a new "subversive body of literature" that, to the best of my knowledge (ay, there's the rub), no one else has thought to start a course about yet. And if you act quickly, you can take my suggestion and build your life's nonwork on it. But you'd better act quickly before you're relegated to the hinterlands of academe, and you don't want to spend your time teaching survey courses in English literature and American history. How regressive!

This idea came to me this morning while checking my email. I received several run-of-the-mill conformist messages, including one forwarding Young America's Foundation phalloreactive "Dirty Dozens" list of college courses. It revealed that several more potential topics for you have already fallen by the wayside. Adultery novels — taken. Mail order brides — already delivered. Cyberfeminism — e-liminated. The lesbian phallus — well, you can just envy whoever dreamed up that one.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.