What My Ph.D. Taught Me

A Literature Ph.D. Goes to High School 1

Gwenda Kaczor for The Chronicle Review

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Gwenda Kaczor for The Chronicle Review

I started in the Ph.D. program in comparative literature at Princeton in 1992, a year after I graduated from college. I had written a senior thesis about versions of the myth of Pygmalion, and I was excited to continue working on mythology and the classical tradition.

I hadn't even sat through my first class when I realized I had made a terrible mistake.

The exact moment of this epiphany came at a party given by the classics department. Someone told a joke, a very, very bad