Jane Barnett

Is it worth the trouble? That's the question Jane Barnette kept asking herself last year. A Ph.D. candidate in theater history and criticism at the University of Texas-Austin, Barnette was hip deep in her dissertation on the effects of the burgeoning railroad system on Chicago-area theater when she started wondering why she was working so hard in a field with so few job prospects. "I was thinking that graduate school hadn't given me what I'd paid for," she says, "and that it was somebody else's fault besides my own."

Jane Barnette herself is caught up in the revival. In the midst of her academic funk, she signed up for a course in UT's "intellectual entrepreneurship" program, which teaches grad students to think of ways their work can be applied to the world outside the ivory tower. "It busted my scholarship wide open," she says. Despite theater studies' traditional division between performer and scholar, she has returned to the university stage while finishing her Ph.D. And on the side, she's been teaching in the graduate school writing program. "I'm a writing consultant and an artist-scholar," she says. All of a sudden, the job market has opened wide.

The paragraphs above are excerpted from a U.S. News article "A god in ruins?" by Rachel Hartigan Shea. The complete article is available in their Best Graduate Schools 2004 print edition or through premium online subscription. Visit usnews.com for more information.