Hello, hello! I hope you had wonderful holidays. I completely and utterly enjoyed my first post-academic Christmas, the first time in my life I did not have stacks of papers to either write or grade while also doing the shopping and card-sending. It was blissful and rejuvenating.
I’m back in the office the day after Christmas — so this is also the first Christmas in my life where I had responsibilities that instantly resumed at the close of holidays! But I’m not complaining: there are only 6 other people in my office, and once I answered a few student emails, I have been able to do whatever I want, which has included teaching my office neighbors to crochet, watering other people’s plants and hermit crabs, and working on our post-academic project.
(Please consider contributing!)
So I’ve been reading through archives of other post-ac blogs — mostly defunct ones — mining them for the best content so we can try and include all relevant info and not have to reinvent the wheel when we set up the website. We’re curates in a number of ways, and it’s occurred to me more than once that this feels like an historical project (in that we’re assembling a bit of history and crafting a narrative, not that we’re making history). I’m reminded of a few archival projects I did as a grad student in American Studies — one on the Hoover Presidential Library, and one on the KMA Kitchen Homemaker Radio Show — in that I’m gathering, gathering, gathering info from archives with no organization beyond chronology and at some point patterns start to emerge and the story matures in a way that’s meaningful and more importantly, writeable! (Except this time, I’m doing it for fun, with friends, and no deadline, and more than 1 person will read it).
I’ve been putting together a timeline that I think traces the roots and chronology of the modern “post-academic movement.” This is a placeholder/umbrella term I’m using to indicate the counter-academic movement within and without institutions broadly: critiques of academia from within (institutional critiques, etc), including concerns about labor structure, grad student exploitation/experience/professionalization, and the contingent faculty movements that have sprung up; and the proliferation of post-academic, ex-academic, and anti-academic blogs and advice books outside the academy. Not that these are equivalent in terms of impact, but more that they’re concurrent. I’m connecting dots here. This is a draft, it’s totally incomplete, and reflects my own background in composition theory and American Studies. Please, suggest additions, ask questions, question the premise, etc.
- Doctor of Arts programs established — programs briefly flourish, then precipitously fade in the early 90s (seems related because it is a reformed doctoral degree focusing on teaching and application of research).
- Process theory gains momentum in composition classrooms. This is significant, IMO, in that it generates some serious cognitive dissonance in the academy, and those effects are borne out through the practices of graduate students.
- Foucault. Come on.
- The Wyoming Conference Resolution opposing unfair employment/pay practices for post-secondary English teachers (that is, comp instructors and TAs).
- Susan Miller writes Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition, which is significant IMO because it (a) uses cultural studies to study the institution itself (b) furthers a conversation about hierarchies and exploitation within institutions and departments and (c) talks about how grad students/teachers are complicit in their own exploitation. (There are many other important publications like this. This is the one I could remember off the top of my head.)
- Preparing Future Faculty project (seems related because it focuses on professional preparation for academics.)
- A number of “leaving academia” websites spring up.
- I think that Beyond the Ivory Tower becomes a fixture in The Chronicle at some point in the late 90s — will have to follow up on that.
- Phinished board created with goal of providing peer-to-peer support for folks struggling in academia.
- Piled Higher and Deeper comic founded.
- Paula Chambers founds the WRK4US listserv, which served humanities and social science graduate students in career changes. (See 2010 below.)
- RateMyProfessor.com founded
- Re-envisioning the PhD project founded with goals of improving transparency, suggesting reform, and revamping doctoral education in the US.
- The Responsive PhD project founded to enhance transparency, improve public engagement, and promote diversity in doctoral education. Concluded 2006 with “goals achieved.”
- Composition starts to come into its own right as a discipline by becoming everything it hates (ok, that’s an exaggeration). But still, comp starts to feel its own cognitive dissonance as it gains institutional prestige and all the markings of legitimacy (departments! offices! tenure lines! a zillion conferences and journals with parentheses and slashes in the titles!) but continues to focus on vexing issues of racism, sexism, class, oppression, and exploitation in institutionalized practices and hidden pedagogy.
- So What Are You Going To Do With That?, a guide for MAs and PhDs looking for careers outside academia, published.
- Scholarly Communication Institute founded, which eventually makes graduate education reform a primary focus (in 2011).
- Rate Your Students blog founded, and stories of academic discontent abound.
- William Pannapacker’s Just Don’t Go appears in the Chronicle, followed up by part 2 in March.
- Adventures in (Post) Gradland blog founded.
- New Faculty Majority founded.
- #Alt-Academy founded.
- Postacademic blog founded by Arnold Pan and Caroline Roberts
- Worst Professor Ever blog founded by Amanda Krauss
- WRK4US becomes VersatilePhD, a website for post-academics to identify and prepare for non-academic careers
- MLA President Sidonie Smith delivers speech about restructuring humanities doctoral programs and revamping the dissertation.
- From Grad School to Happiness blog founded by JC.
- MLA President Russell Berman writes essay about restructuring humanities doctoral programs by cutting time to completion in half.
- SCI turns its focus to graduate education reform.
- The Adjunct Project founded.
- Mama Nervosa and Project Reinvention founded, among many many many others (see sidebar, I think over half are new within the last year).
- MLA President Michael Berube writes essay(s!) and delivers speech about restructuring humanities doctoral programs and revamping the dissertation. Argues that wholesale change is required and fixing or tweaking one aspect of grad education won’t solve this problem (please see his comments on a former post). (Noticing a pattern? Stay tuned for more thoughts on this.)
- Russell Berman and other faculty follow through with his recommendations by encouraging Stanford humanities departments to make time to completion 5 years.
This post also appears at HowToLeaveAcademia.com