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Everything posted by ComeBackZinc

  1. But see, here's the problem, for someone like me who's been engaging on this for years: there have already been a ton of essays published in exactly the same vein as that of VirtualMessage. Complaints like those aren't rare in the adjunct crisis/grad student crisis/academic labor crisis/etc narrative. They're the dominant form! They're ubiquitous! And I've been reading them for ten years. So my question is, how often can we write the same essays that get the same agreement from the same people and expect things to change? Part of what frustrates me is that VirtualMessage's complaints are so often treated as novel, around here, when in fact they're just par for the course. Anyone who engages on this issue has heard them many times. Sure: it's important to inspire people to feel particular things. But at what point does that duty to inspire a particular feeling end and a duty to actually articulate an actionable approach to achieving a better system begin?
  2. I am once again unclear, VirtualMessage, about what you want people on this board, or in the academy, to actually do. And once again, it seems clear to me that you are less interested in having some sort of constructive change than you are in getting people here to embrace a certain kind of affective or emotional attitude towards the academy. Suppose we all did: so what? If we all started beating our breast and emoting the way that you do, what would materially change? If you want to be useful, you have to learn to separate your own bitterness and anger over how you were exploited from the material and economic realities of the exploitation that I, and many others, have agreed exists. And yet every time you come around here -- every single time -- you inevitably focus on the least material, most emotional, most affective, most personal aspect of this debate. Every time. And you never, ever listen to any criticism or feedback that people level at you. So why do you persist? Is this therapy for you? Is that it?
  3. My advice: 1. Use this summer to explore your creative writing work (which, FWIW, many people in rhet/comp are into), because you won't have much time at all to do such things once you've started and you want to give yourself mental space to rest and do your own stuff for now. Nobody expects an MA student to be getting published, let alone someone who's not yet started their MA. Of course publication is important, but if your work is good it will be good in the summer after your first MA year, which is a fine time to start drafting articles. 2. I would not try to rework a lit paper into a rhet/comp article; papers like that tend to read like, well, lit papers reworked into rhet/comp articles, which rhet/comp journals get a lot of and tend not to be very enthusiastic about. If these papers are worth publishing, try publishing them in lit journals. No, a lit article won't be as valuable on the job market as a rhet/comp article, but a pub's a pub, and it's a more fruitful use of your time to tighten up a paper into its best form than to try and Frankenstein it into something it wasn't intended to be. Just my 2 cents.
  4. I recognize the legitimacy of your anger and I appreciate your overall political project. I agree about the need for solidarity and taking concrete steps to reduce the demise of TT positions. I do think you have more friends than you realize, if you would care to look for them a little more fairly.
  5. I know all about it, because she first announced it on the WPA listserv-- that's right, she was a WPA, the very type of faculty member that you have derided in this space again and again. And she received great support and advice from the other WPAs. So maybe you should reconsider whether WPAs are the devil. And, yes, I want the same things. I just want you to understand that your tone is not always conducive to convincing the people who we both need to convince.
  6. I know for some people on this thread it's the adjunct's own fault-- how dare they let themselves be exploited! Who? Based on what statement? Quotes, please.
  7. As I said, the Atlantic article is just a quick hitter. Again: I've been studying this issue almost nonstop for two years, mostly with NCES and BLS data. If you think that their data is substandard.... that's interesting. Its first argument is that humanities majors have about the same unemployment rate as everyone else. Dude, no shit. In other words, you made an inflammatory and incorrect statement, got called out on it, and are now making a vastly different statement. On the other hand, take a slice from, say, the PhD labor market: science PhDs are tens of percent less unemployed than humanities PhDs. You didn't say PhDs. You said majors. If you don't want to be criticized, speak with care. There's probably as good a distance between an English major and food stamps as between an engineer and the same. This is a quantitative claim that is easily rebutted, if you actually care to look at the BLS data instead of once again pulling stuff out of your butt. whereas English majors may do quite well on the market, they're not doing quite well in jobs that specifically look for English majors A significant majority of all college graduates get jobs in fields that are not related to their major, including in most STEM fields. Saying that English majors can get jobs or that some English majors sometimes get excellent jobs is boring and stupid And yet it was exactly that claim that you initially showed up to complain about. throwing around your wonderfully old and opaque statistics is only exacerbating it. Those stats aren't that old, and anyway, the employment prospects of humanities majors have improved in the last two years, not worsened, as they have for almost all sectors of the current economy, so newer stats would only hurt your argument more. And there's nothing opaque about those stats at all. If you'd actually care to look, you'd see that in fact the worst outcomes are typically found for majors in Education, Psychology, and Business. But you don't actually care to look, because you've got a false impression you'd like to preserve.
  8. In fact engineering is undergoing a marketed labor slowdown in some subfields, and the general notion of a STEM shortage is unfounded: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-the-science-and-engineering-shortage/284359/
  9. The supposed poor employment condition of liberal arts majors and English majors in general has been the subject of several years of research of mine. In fact, humanities majors do not suffer on the job market. Though the notion that they do is commonplace, it lacks evidentiary basis. Indeed, English majors themselves do quite well on the job market. What you're saying is factually inaccurate. I'm sorry to blow up your spot, but thems the facts. Here's a quickie, for example: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/the-best-argument-for-studying-english-the-employment-numbers/277162/
  10. Yeah one point that I try to be very nuanced on is that a) the academic job market is very very bad, but all for all recent humanities PhDs aren't doing as terribly as we've been told.
  11. Here's a cool, worthwhile initiative from MLA along these lines. https://connect.commons.mla.org/
  12. You ignored the question, of course. By the way: I neither mentioned my job nor said that NTT is the best we can do.
  13. If in any given employment situation the choice is between an adjunct making $3K a class with no contract, no benefits, no respect for research at all, no room for advancement and no hope, or a full-time, long-term, contracted lecturer making a living wage, earning benefits, and having the opportunity for promotion, which do you think is better? Making the perfect the enemy of the good does nobody any favors. And I condescend to you because you have single-handedly hijacked this forum again and again, in a way that doesn't make it any easier for people like me to counsel others to consider a different path that grad school. I have been urging people here to consider forgoing grad school for years. I have been speaking out about the awful job market here for years. In my AFK life, I have been organizing and raising consciousness and fighting for better conditions with my fellow grad students for years. People like you do not help the situation at all. In fact, most people who hear your type of rhetoric become more emboldened to go to grad school and pursue their TT dreams, because you're so one-note, so didactic and patronizing, and so resistant to alternative opinions. You actually make the side minimizing the labor crisis appear more reasonable. Have you considered that?
  14. I applied for several NTT jobs in my job hunt this past year. All of the ones I applied to had the following characteristics: they provided a living wage that would enable me to live modestly but comfortably; that they had multi-year contracts; that the teaching load was no higher than a 3/3; that people currently in those positions reported privately to me that their work was respected and valued and that their research was taken seriously. A nice bonus was jobs where research funding was possible or jobs where NTT faculty had a voice in the faculty senate. Some of these jobs were quite well paying in great cities on great campuses, featuring summers off if you wanted them or some availability for summer teaching if you needed the money. If you think those jobs are inherently beneath you, you're nothing but a snob.
  15. Again: the deeper issue is the wide-scale demise of funding for the humanities and broad shrinking of the TT landscape that has little to do with English profs. But to say that grad studetns started teaching a majority of English classes because of the demise of TT lines initially is just historically inaccurate. It's hard to imagine now, but in the 70s English was one of the most valued, star-heavy fields in the academy, and that accelerated a process in which tenured English professors walked away from lower level undergraduate classes and took on more and more grad students to fill their graduate seminars. I disagree with the historical accuracy of your claim.
  16. Of course not. And like I said, literature is not solely or even primarily to blame for its own misfortunes. But when departments at elite SLACs and research universities largely gave teaching intro classes and low-level surveys over to grad students and adjuncts it was a terrible mistake, and one which has contributed to the economic and institutional realities of literature that no one here supports. And I wish more professors in every discipline were smarter about the perception of their interest in undergraduate teaching and teaching for non-majors.
  17. Oh, no doubt about it, a warning I have been making myself. But the percentages are still much better. But yes-- contraction is badly necessary, although the real thing we need is for universities to start hiring.
  18. Again, your selectivity in this regard is baffling: literature trains thousands of PhDs a year that it can't get hired. Literature is absolutely, utterly dependent on adjunct and graduate school labor. Literature is a small handful of tenured poohbahs who hate teaching and hate their students and just want to lock themselves in their office and write the thousandth book on reading Dickens through Lacan-- which is a very big reason why English has no political clout to oppose the situation you deride. RC is far, far from perfect. But the field has stayed small, on purpose, precisely so as not to produce tons of PhDs in the position that you're in. Literature profs are too proud to teach the introductory courses that keep the lights on in the university, so they need grad students to fill their seminars and they need grad students to actually teach college. Meanwhile, RC graduates 250 people a year, a majority of whom get tenure track jobs, precisely because we treat teaching undergraduates as honorable, important work. Which explains why we have more juice than you in the contemporary university. The absolute, utterly bizarre aspect of your performance here is that everything that you complain about in RC is so much worse in literature. You're not really mad at us, are you? It's absolutely plain that you're just lashing out at people who have nothing to do with your unemployment and who have structured their programs in the way necessary to avoid the very situation that you complain about. Physician, heal yourself.
  19. Part of what makes me sensitive to these endless fights is that this is precisely what we should not be doing, fighting against other people in the humanities or in English. We should instead find solidarity and argue for the legitimacy and importance of each other's work.
  20. I don't understand what your second sentence has to do with your first. You think rhetoric and composition is trivializing discourse? Or you think this message board is trivializing discourse?
  21. Unlike literature, which is taught by nothing but tenured professors, and which is not currently producing thousands of PhDs that cannot possibly get jobs. Oh, wait....
  22. I mean, I could answer, but this has troll thread written all over it. You don't have to like the field, but you shouldn't bother yourself with it if you don't. It's very easy to avoid. And that claim-- the claim of obsolescence-- has been levied against the humanities writ large, and modern languages in particular, over and over. So, you know.
  23. One thing I would like to offer as a way to increase your post-graduation options is writing some things for non-academic audiences. Try and get some professional freelance work going if you can. I don't represent this as easy, and I feel a bit perverse telling people to go from one notoriously tough job market to another. That said, even if you remain in academia, universities are placing a premium on public engagement these days, and with good reason, and I think you'll find writing online really fulfilling. It can also put (a little) money in your pocket if you do it well and are savvy about it. The tricky part is when to write for free and for how long. I think it's legitimate to do some free writing early on, while you work to build a name for yourself. Some people, like Yasmin Nair, are very critical of people writing for free, and I largely agree, although I find her polemical nature rubs some people the wrong way. (Full disclosure is that Yasmin is a personal friend.) But it's also true that you can get some early exposure by writing for free and then move on to paid gigs. There's tons of advice out there and I can't summarize it by myself, so seek out opinions and perspectives on getting started. You might start looking at non-academic sites that use a lot of academic vocabulary and theorizing, like the New Inquiry. Also, Scratch Magazine is a really good resource for reading about how writers do money and make these things a professional enterprise. I genuinely think that if you graduate having built up a meaningful portfolio of popular website publications you will have more potential job outs. You could freelance or look for a staff writer job, and because you'd be using different parts of your brain, you'd likely find the actual work isn't too much to take on in addition to your academic duties. Just a thought.
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