The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22nd, 2015
Shortly after defending my dissertation, my parents, quite unexpectedly, sent me a DVD of the 1983 film Educating Rita. It turned out to be a brilliant gift, helping me hone my feelings about what I had gained and lost in the long road to my Ph.D.
The movie also helped me articulate my reservations about the regime
of professionalization that is currently gripping many graduate
programs, as chronicled in a recent column by Leonard Cassuto.
The film stars Julie Walters as Rita, a working-class hairdresser
hungry for a university education, and Michael Caine as Frank, an
embittered ex-poet who, aided by a powerful cocktail of snark,
self-loathing, and Scotch, has settled apathetically into a role as a
professor of literature.