I'm not sure why you'd put it that way. I would sooner say that, as a humanities crank myself, I'm bitter towards the treatment humanities get in academia, and in society as a whole. I'm not drawing on conservative news stories as much as on my own experience in going through higher education.
I was a literature major myself, stopped taking classes just in time after my first experience with graduate-level education. Most of my post was written as a defense to the layman, going over issues I've debated with my more technically-minded friends. The "taking one stupid professor/artist you've read about and condemning the whole idea because of it" tactic is one I have had to dismiss more than a few times - not all modern art is scatological, postmodern books aren't incomprehensible, and subjects besides the classics are worth discussing, etc.
As much as anything, hopefully you will have a better reading circle if you're paying thousands of dollars in tuition to attend it. Otherwise, I'm not sure how the principle of the thing should differ. I guess a lot of people pay the tuition so that they can associate themselves symbolically with a minor league football team or basketball team, so paying for a superior reading circle doesn't seem so silly to me.
That argument was against the anti-intellectualism of undergrads, complaining about too much theory. There's nothing wrong with casual reading circles, and if that's the style of study you want to follow, that's great, but if you're going to take classes you've got to leave your preconceptions at the door. And if you're going to turn a class into a Harry Potter plot recap (which seriously did happen in one of my Dickens classes one day), why are you paying thousands per year to stunt your growth and career potential?
Towards the end of your post, I have no idea what you're going on about. I certainly didn't say that analyzing old artistic/literary works wasn't a good thing to do, or that you shouldn't learn theories and develop frameworks for discussing them. I didn't complain about professors not making sense to me. My complaint was more that my experiences with higher education indicates that it's generally not rigorous enough. It focuses on modernity and novelty, and the professors don't actually understand their own fields well enough-- when it's taught by professors at all. Instead everyone is focused on getting published, which often means being controversial or novel while paradoxically playing it safe to please your peers.
Again, I had no idea what position you were arguing from, so I gave a summary and basic defense of lit 101. Hopefully someone else will read it and get something from it if you don't need to.
I was lucky enough to go to a good school in the UC system, so most of my professors WERE actual professors - one was a world-class Chaucer scholar (fluent in middle english and all), and another for Dickens (who unfortunately did let his class turn into a Harry Potter recap occasionally, but then again there was not one word of theory mentioned and he kept it free of 'bullshit' academic jargon). I don't think that there's anything wrong with modernity and novelty as subjects - and I had to go out of my way to take a class that had anything more recent than 1930. The publish-or-perish issue is certainly valid, but like I said, I view that as the symptom of the larger issue of the humanities' decreasing importance - bordering on outright scorn in at least half of the comments on this very story.