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Excuse me while I impale myself

December 17, 2009

First, go to the InsideHigherEd article about the future state of English teaching and read through.  I will wait.

Where does one start?

With an “historic low” in the numbers (see point one below), what would the rational, measured, prudent choice of action be? Why stay the course, of course.

Point by point:

  • In the findings bulleted list, the first notes that the listed numbers of open, tenure-track positions tracks along with the number of actual positions (about 55-65%) in the departments. This point, then, acknowledges that the adjunct (which I think is actually quiet higher) open positions are not tracked by the MLA. Why not? This speaks volumes to the status, rank, worth, etc. of the common adjunct in the humanities.
  • New doctorate numbers have not decreased. More people for less positions. Great.
  • Comp and Rhetoric–not why most people go into English studies–lead the open positions–because other fields lament that their students can’t write and they themselves can’t be bothered to teach them…a position English departments, hard up to ratchet up cache, have encouraged for years in a desperate attempt at relevancy.
  • Only at 70% of adjunctness is a department deemed at a tipping point…Only when 1 in 4 profs have benefits, job security and prestige is there a problem. I think the real problem is with that number.
  • Post-doc positions in a field where one office doesn’t speak to its neighbor because, well, most are running scared (see above bullet points) and, let’s be honest, English doesn’t, on the whole, attract the most extroverted group.
  • Will one job-seeking strategy work? For one, maybe, but with newly minted, eager future-adjuncts graduating to add to the existing pool, no strategy will suffice.
  • Will departments cut back incoming students (future jobless souls)? No, that would lessen the importance of the field among the colleges (said by a graduate student, though).

English departments are not heeding the counsel of their own subject. Dulce est decorum est.

  1. Dperlmutter permalink
    December 26, 2009 6:01 pm

    Good post; the whole academy needs to have a serious discussion about what it means to offer a Ph.D. Without prospect of employment.

  2. Sour Apples permalink
    February 14, 2010 8:08 pm

    I have been an adjunct in a community college for 5 years. I have attempted to get out by seeking alternate employment. I am glad I am not the only one who admits to burn
    out. I had dealt with moderate to
    severe depression bc of the regular put downs and bad management and manipulative games. I am 30 and I can’t let my life pass by. I’m
    determined to claw my way out of my field and find a place where I can receive insurance and
    make better use of my skills. I will
    either make my escape or die trying.

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