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Climbing the academic ladder


PhD or unemployment – Yale delivers an ultimatum
Tomas Venclova Poet
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Na, kažkas ten išėjo, vis dėlto dėstyti rusų literatūrą truputį lengviau negu smuikuoti, ir aš tą pradėjau tą daryti ir net su studentais radau bendrą kalbą ir kažkaip neblogai, taip sakant, man tas dėstymas vyko. Jeilas yra prie pat Niujorko, apie pusantros valandos kelio nuo Niujorko, ar tai traukiniu, ar tai automobiliu, kitaip sakant, beveik Niujorko priemiestis. Ir po metų man buvo pasakyta, kad mes norim jums padėti, bet jeigu jūs norite ir toliau dirbti kaip akademinį darbą, dirbti kaip dėstytojas, turite gauti, vadinamąjį PhD arba filosofijos daktaro laipsnį. Na, tai kas Lietuvoje tada buvo vadinama mokslų kandidato laipsnis. Kitaip sakant, reikia išlaikyti eilę egzaminų, reikia apginti disertaciją ir tada tą laipsnį gauni. Tada gali tau duoti darbo, gali ir neduoti.Tai nėra jokia garantija, kad tu to darbo gausi, bet be jo visiškai nieko neįmanoma.

Well, something did come of it – after all, teaching Russian literature is a little easier than playing the violin. So I started teaching and I even managed to find a common language with my students and somehow the teaching didn’t go badly, as it were. Yale is right by New York, about one-and-a-half hours away, either by train or car – in other words, it’s almost a suburb of New York. And after a year I was told that, ‘we want to help you but if you want to go on doing academic work, to work as a lecturer you need to get a PhD or a doctor of philosophy degree’, well, what was called in Lithuanian then Candidate of Sciences degree. In other words, I would have to sit a string of exams, to defend a dissertation and then get the degree. Then I could get a job or not. There was no guarantee that I would get a job but without a degree, employment was impossible.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Yale University, New York

Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012