“Oh, the humanities” Garden Statutory by Kyle Robertson

Oh, the humanities.

Garden Statutory by Kyle Robertson


  • In contemporary academia, tumblr posts suffice for paper proposals.
  • Avoid inane in-class discussion. Distract yourself with self-mutilation.
  • When discussing masturbation in literature, be sure to throw in something about body-as-text to sublimate accompanying academic anxieties for paper cuts.
  • If called upon unexpectedly, speak metaphorically by borrowing jargon from unrelated domains. Science is a perennial favourite, and has the added bonus of legitimizing your discipline. Valence—not just for electrons!
  • Be sure to throw in poorly-defined abstract terms featured in the ‘literature.’ Try ‘interpellation’, ‘the Symbolic’, or ‘aporia.’ If the literature can use them, so can you. Remember WWJD: When Wanting Jargon, Dialectic.
  • Compensate for nervousness during presentations by popping a beta-blocker or five beforehand.
  • Don’t hesitate to interrupt emotional blather disguised as analysis with a blunt ‘No one cares how you feel.’
  • Frequent references to ‘us moderns’ & ‘modernity’ will suffice to make you appear self-aware.
  • Avoid culpability in discussions by confessing to having not read the text, even if you have.
  • If you need to bail midsentence, challenge the teleological expectations of your audience by sto—
  • Keep seminars on track: consider making a sign that reads ‘This discussion is unproductive.’ Then hit people with it.
  • Attribute doubtful ideas first to a continental philosopher in translation. If met with hostility, blame the translator. If not, boast your interpretive skills.
  • If accused of having used a term incorrectly, claim to have used it ‘ironically.’
  • A well-timed and emphatically vocalized expletive will throw even the most uninhibited off the trail leading to your defective thesis. NB: Not effective in writing. Shit.
  • Put a swift end to troublesome discussions by accusing your interlocutor of sexism, racism, or if you want to do us all a favour, communism/fascism.
  • Squeeze out of tight spots by waxing philosophical. Challenge others by questioning their use of language and then require of their defence infinite exactness.
  • Avoid referring to the gaze in discussion. Prefer the adjective ‘homosexual.’
  • To make every class feel like a slam session, invite discussion by asking if anyone would like to ‘speak to’ the topic.
  • Help others better appreciate your privilege by emphasizing that intense student-teacher connection you have with your professors whenever possible. But try to be subtle.
  • You are no longer required to yell when refuting an argument. People are trying to sleep.
  • Kick-off every seminar on postmodernity with an equivocal line like ‘global citizens are not entirely resigned to living in and among dustbins.’ (Bonus points for Baudrillard, but who’s counting?)
  • Stock up on amphetamines for exam season.
  • In lieu of content, loop a peppy guitar track. (Freebie from the Terry Project.)
  • You are of course entitled to free speech—but not to an audience.


Thanks to Lara, Jane, Manjeet, and Laura.