November 27, 2006

"Maybe the next frontier in the academic battle against all varieties of oppression should be 'drunk studies.'"

Cathy Young riffs, a propos of "Fat Studies":
Why not an academic program championing the idea that "alcohol abuse" is an artificial construct based on the mainstream culture's oppressive notions of what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate consumption of alcohol? "Drunk studies" could tell us that the stigmatization of drunkenness stems from the Western valorization of such dubious values as self-control, rationality, and obedience to social norms, and reflects a pernicious fear of rebellion against inhibitions and authority. Of course, it would also question conventional wisdom -- supposedly based on scientific evidence, but really rooted in anti-drunk bias -- about the deleterious health consequences of alcohol abuse and the dangers of drunk driving. After all, the goal of "drunk studies" would be to empower drunks!
You could repackage all the vices. The first commenter over there brings up laziness -- sloth. I mean, why are we sinners persecuted so much? Prejudice! Convention!


Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

They could have the Dean Wermer (sp.) Chair of Blotto Studies!

"Fat, Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Unknown said...

I started out life as a "Sloth Studies" major at Yale, but alas, was too lazy to

Beth said...

This sounds like a great literature special topics course. We'll start with the Wife of Bath and move on to Margery Kempe. Fridays, we'll drink after class.

Anonymous said...

Someone left the cork out of my curriculum.

Tim said...

Hey, what about me?

As a white guy rapidly approaching middle age, I can't dance to modern music.

Really, I can't. The social oppression on the dance floor, especially at weddings, is too much to bear. It is so stigmatizing.

And my wife is so embarrassed. Shouldn't someone feel her pain, too?

I think it's long past time for "White Guys Who Can't Dance" Studies.

I mean, really.

I'm sure Bill Gates is available for funding an endowed chair. I can drink to that.

Kemper said...

I think Chapel Hill and Dartmouth already have this major, it's called fraternity rush.

White guys can't dance major could also get a minor in White guys can't jump!

Unknown said...

It's no worse than women's studies or African American studies, LGBT studies, etc.

They're all hogwash majors. I would never hire anyone who studied this crap.

But it's their choice. I say more power to them. They should just be aware of the consequences of having this on their transcript.

Bruce Hayden said...


I am not sure that those majors are worthless everywhere. In particular, I am thinking of getting into law school. Probably shows more originality than, for example, Poli-Sci. And since law schools are looking at diversity...

Unknown said...

Have Law Schools lowered their standards that much?

Can't see how you would get past the first year if you only took classes like this as an undergrad.

KCFleming said...

There might already be an ADD studies chair but for the fact that so far the aspirants keep changing their majors.

Hey! What's that? A transgendered physics minor? Cool!

dave said...

I would never hire anyone who studied this crap.

Who wants to spend their lives dropping fries for you, anyway?

Unknown said...

Over 100 people right now Dave.

lucas m said...

ron-- "Fat Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, son."

I don't know about that...We could call it the "Homer J Simpson Center for Advanced Lazyology Ltudies and School of Sloth, Beer and Delicious Little Pork Thingies"

Sign me up!...I don't want to put in the effort, myself.

Josef Novak said...

I was hoping you would post on this article.

I suppose it makes little difference to the student - writing a dissertation on something like this strikes me as being mainly an exercise/meditation on argumentation.

As far as the importance or social relevance of this phenomenon is concerned however, I have to admit that I am not progressive enough to acknowledge fat people as a persecuted minority.

Does that make me a bigot, or just a good citizen concerned about the meteoric rise of (almost entirely preventable [adult onset]) diabetes in the U.S.?

James Wigderson said...

I think I'll do a little independent study with a bottle of vodka and a martini shaker.

Beth said...

dtl, people with degrees in WS do get jobs; they get accepted into law school and a variety of grad school areas of study. A BA isn't a specialization; 39-42 hours may offer some depth in a degree area, but a BA is mainly about breadth across the various colleges. The typical WS degree will cover all the usual undergrad requirements in languages, sciences, math, writing and literature and so on, plus work across the range of humanities and social sciences. Ours includes senior research methods, a statistics option, and two semesters of service learning, which means internships and hands-on work in government and non-profit agencies. That leads to employment.

Zach said...

The Chronicle in Higher Education article linked in the Young post gives the former weight of Kathleen LeBesco at 240 pounds on a 5'6" frame. At the time of writing, she was down to 150 pounds.

There might be a kernel of truth in studying body images and lifestyles of the slightly overweight. There are certainly plenty of slightly overweight people out there. Even at 150 lbs, Ms. LeBesco has a BMI of 24.2 and is classified as overweight.

But overweight is not the same as morbidly obese. The populations aren't the same, the explanations aren't the same, the relation to society isn't the same. It's the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic. I wonder whether fat studies isn't selling the second under the guise of the first.

Victor said...

And why not. We can rail at the practice, but at its root, it's just a way to rally for power. A group of people trying to persuade others to treat them a certain way (using the PC cudgel to do so). If people (read: liberal PC academia) are willing to put up with it and it flourishes, so be it.

The fact that commerce and diversity are increasingly bound together makes this a perfectly expected outcome.

The market in action!

mikeyes said...

With all the snarkiness that is going on (I presume from persons with BMIs of 18) I want to point out that you can get a degree in drug and alcohol studies from virtually every tech college in Wisconsin which leads to a certification in alcohol and drug treatment. In addition you can get a fellowship in Addictions making you eligible for various medical boards from the two medical schools in the state.

I am sure that Wisconsin is not the only state in which these academic offerings are present.

J said...

"The first commenter over there brings up laziness"

Dr. E.L. Kersten: "Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now" -

"Fat, Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Tell that to Ted Kennedy

Anonymous said...

Stoned studies. It is a kill major dude. Very mersh. I mean, why do you think they call it higher education bro?

Actually, I think I got my undergrad degree in that. Graduated in 82. Or was it 84?