As the political parties argue over student tuition fees it is worth reflecting on what some supposed ‘beneficiaries’ of university degree course are currently enjoying.
Take Harry, 24, at Leeds University, for example. He is a big fan of rapper, Kanye West, and was, recently, given the go ahead by his teachers to write his final year English degree thesis under this title: “I Love Kanye: Identity in the works of Kanye West”. Harry told The Tab, an online news site for universities in Britain and North America, that he’s a “big Kanye fan so wanted to dig into his back catalogue”.
It seems that Harry is especially fascinated by the way Kanye “challenges and subverts a settled notion of identity” through a “continuous re-appropriation of the production-consumption star image model, and by creating innumerable modulations of his own image”.
Impressive stuff and, as The Tab points out: “Dissertations are the dread of any third years. Writing 10,000 words on the role of women in the Victorian period, or on Byron, or Virginia Wolf etc. etc. is just so boring. No matter how much you love your course, researching something like that for nearly a solid year is soul destroying. But not if you’re clever enough to actually pick an interesting topic, I guess? We’ve had someone write their diss on the Kardashians, on Beyonce, but that is nothing compared to the guy who’s managed to write a solid 10,000 words on Kanye West. Yep, you heard me right.”
For the record, Kim, of Durham University, had to watch 80 hours of reality TV to produce her 10,000 words on the Kardashians – no easy task! According to The Sun it did, however, allow her to explore important issues “such as sexual liberation, consumerism, racial fetisisation – and Kim’s bum.” It won her a first class honours degrees or as the same newspaper commented - “First-Ass Honours”!
The floodgates of educational anarchy really opened when rapper Dizzee Rascall made it on to the new and more ‘rigorous’ A-Level English syllabus along with Russell Brand’s views on drugs, Caitlin Moran’s Twitter feed, Jamie Oliver and, even, Blackadder. It should come as no surprise at all, therefore, that Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé now qualify for dissertation status.
These days many students and their teachers regard the likes of Wordsworth, Byron and Dickens as irrelevant dead white males. They want literature to be relevant to the real and cool narcissistic world they live in. As Stro Rockets, another rapper whose literary output merits study, has noted:
"I think we all motherfuckin’ hypocrites, Asking God for life and we ain’t even livin’ it."
What next, a full degree course, perhaps, on ‘heavy metal’ music - Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and the like? No, it cannot be ‘next’ because it is already running at Nottingham Trent University. Do not expect it to produce too many future rock stars. Employability is not in the raison d’être of such courses and nor is unrepayable student debt.
‘Degrees as disqualifications’ is not something that appears in the party election manifestos for 2017. It should!