PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Alberta, Ph.D. (ABD). Hobbies and other interests: Bees.
CAREER: Scholar, writer and publisher.
A Due Sense of Differences: An Evaluative Approach to Canadian Literature, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1980.
The Ph.D. Trap, Medicine Label Press (West Bay, Canada), 1987.
The Ph.D. Trap Revisited, Dundurn Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Contributor of scholarly articles published in the Antagonish Review and other periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian Wilfred Cude is a writer, publisher, and teacher who has challenged the benefit of doctoral programs in North America. In The Ph.D. Trap and The Ph.D. Trap Revisited, Cude lays out the negative consequences for individuals pursuing doctorates and on the education system they operate within.
Cude, who never received his doctorate, finished his Ph.D. course work at the University of Alberta, Canada. His thesis and first book, A Due Sense of Differences: An Evaluative Approach to Canadian Literature, was published in 1980. In this work, Cude examined several Canadian works of literature, and critiqued and evaluated their lasting worth. Because his thesis was published before he defended it, his graduate committee never formally examined it. Consequently, he became part of the sixty percent of doctoral students who never complete their degrees, commented Philip Milner in his St. Francis Xavier University Web site profile of Cude.
After Cude's thesis was published, but not officially accepted, he decided to write about the Ph.D. itself. Unshackled by a Ph.D. himself, he wrote and self-published his second book in 1987, The Ph.D. Trap. He self-published only after the book had been accepted, and then rejected, by a Toronto publisher because an editor suggested it might be an affront to the academic community, Milner noted.
The Ph.D. Trap outlines some of the problems with the education system. Ph.D.'s are often requirements for becoming a university professor, and so aspiring teachers and researchers are trapped, sometimes futilely, in a struggle to attain the degree. "Cude argues that North Americans have been for too long fixated on the Ph.D. as the be-all and end-all of academic training," P. J. M. Robertson wrote in the Queen's Quarterly.
Cude's follow-up text, The Ph.D. Trap Revisited, published in 2001, doubles the length of its predecessor and remakes, and amplifies, its arguments. With new data and statistics, Cude calls many Ph.D. programs exploitative, cruel and hurtful to honest intellectual quests. He probes the broader problems of doctorates, including accounts of Ph.D. students who murdered or bludgeoned their supervisors. He also points out scholars who have contributed without first attaining a doctorate. Cude closes the book with suggestions for system improvements, including caution for prospective doctoral students and a call for reforms by professors who have power to alter the system.
In the Australian Universities' Review, Brian Martin commented, "Cude, unlike most of the other thousands of failed aspirants who are spit out by the higher education system each year, retains his voice, and an eloquent and measured one at that, with scarcely a hint of his personal struggles."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian Universities' Review, Volume 44, 2001, Brian Martin, review of The Ph.D. Trap Revisited, pp. 37-38.
Modern Fiction Studies, winter, 1981, Robert Lecker, review of A Due Sense of Difference: An Evaluative Approach to Canadian Literature, pp. 745-746.
Queen's Quarterly, autumn, 1989, P. J. M. Robertson, review of The Ph.D. Trap, pp. 680-690.