Flush Out Your Headgear, New Guy: You’ll Never Get Tenure (or Be Happy) in Academia

20120506-despair-2From Slate (4/5/13):

Who wouldn’t want a job where you only have to work five hours a week, you get summers off, your whole job is reading and talking about books, and you can never be fired? Such is the enviable life of the tenured college literature professor, and all you have to do to get it is earn a Ph.D. So perhaps you, literature lover, are considering pursuing this path.

Well, what if I told you that by “five hours” I mean “80 hours,” and by “summers off” I mean “two months of unpaid research sequestration and curriculum planning”? What if you’ll never have time to read books, and when you talk about them, you’ll mostly be using made-up words like “deterritorialization” and “Othering”—because, as Ron Rosenbaum pointed out recently, the “dusty seminar rooms” of academia have the chief aim of theorizing every great book to death? And I can’t even tell you what kind of ass you have to kiss these days to get tenure—largely because, like most professors, I’m not on the tenure track, so I don’t know.

(Read the entire article.)

As an interesting companion piece to this article we’d suggest reading How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation by Marc Bosquet. One of the seemingly counter-intuitive statements he makes–that is actually exactly right–is that receiving your doctorate is not your entree into the ivory tower of academic but, rather, signals the end of your academic career as there are fewer and fewer tenure track jobs (among other issues as well).

And on that happy note: Have a great weekend!



One comment

  1. Pingback: The Real Life of One (Crazy) Tenured Professor | Life as I know it...

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