I am delighted to announce the release of a report, executive summary, data, and slides from the Scholarly Communication Institute’s recent study investigating perceptions of career preparation provided by humanities graduate programs. The study focused on people with advanced degrees in the humanities who have pursued alternative academic careers. Everything is CC-BY, so please read, remix, and share. I’d especially welcome additional analysis on the datasets.
All of the materials are openly accessible through the University of Virginia’s institutional repository:
(Note that the files available for download are listed in the top left-hand corner of each Libra listing.)
Having worked on this for over a year, I’m more convinced than ever about the importance of incorporating public engagement and collaboration into humanities doctoral education—not only to help equip emerging scholars for a variety of career outcomes, but also to maintain a healthy, vibrant, and rigorous field. It has been fascinating to connect with scholars working in such a diverse range of stimulating careers, and to see some of the patterns in their experiences.
Many, many thanks to everyone who has contributed time and energy to this project—from completing the survey, to reading (or listening to) the preliminary reports, to providing feedback and critique.
This spring and summer has been the busiest travel season I have ever had. While I won’t deny that I’m happy to be rounding the corner on my last two trips this summer, I’ve learned a tremendous amount as I’ve bounced from city to city, and feel lucky to have had so many outstanding opportunities. Continue Reading Summer of travel, DH edition
I’ve had the privilege of talking about graduate education reform and career preparation for humanities scholars at several universities this spring, including Stanford, NYU, and the University of Delaware. I’ve adapted the following from those presentations. The full dataset from the study that I discuss will be available later this summer, along with a more formal report. A PDF of this post is available here.
Already familiar with the background of this project? Jump straight to the survey results.
Graduate students in the humanities thinking about their future careers face a fundamental incongruity: though humanities scholars thrive in a wide range of positions, many graduate programs operate as though every PhD student will become a tenured professor. While the disconnect between the number of tenure-track jobs available and the single-minded focus with which graduate programs prepare students for that specific career is not at all new, the problem is becoming ever more urgent due to the increasing casualization of academic labor, as well as the high levels of debt that many students bear once they complete their degrees.
I’ve just returned from two thought-provoking days of conversations about assessment and authority in new modes of scholarly production, the second in a series of three SCI meetings on the topic. We’ll synthesize the key outcomes and insights into a report very soon. For the moment, though, I want to think a little more about a question that occurred to me after the meeting: What is the place of beauty in academic writing? While this wasn’t something the group discussed directly, it did seem to be an undertone of certain threads of conversation.
I got home from CHNM on Friday evening feeling pretty brain-dead from the hybrid (and quintessentially #altac) work of wrangling meeting logistics and absorbing stimulating and thoughtful discussion. Ready to relax, I sat down to watch Pina and was entranced within minutes; the film is stunning. The clips of Pina Bausch’s dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, are mesmerizing; they are made even more compelling by Wim Wenders’ directorial work. Something about the visual beauty of the film and the dance it portrayed helped me to think about the preceding conversations about scholarly work in a new light. Continue Reading The place of beauty in scholarly writing
This spring marks a new phase for my work with SCI. Data collection for the survey on career paths is complete, and analysis is underway, meaning that the next step will be much more focused on sharing outcomes. In some ways, this is a less comfortable step in the process for me (nerves! public speaking!), but also an exciting and satisfying one.
I’m honored to be giving several invited talks over the next few months:
The new role begins in September, which seems far away, but the months will undoubtedly fly by. I’m in the enviable position of wanting to linger in my current position while also looking forward to the next. As many of you know, my position with SCI came with an expiration date; like many grant-funded jobs, this one runs out when the grant concludes. Were that not the case, I would have loved to keep working with Bethany Nowviskie and the team at the Scholars’ Lab; it is a wonderful place, with brilliant colleagues, smart, creative graduate students, and a constant stream of new ideas. It has been a privilege to work with them; I’ve learned an incredible amount in the past year, and the people at the Scholars’ Lab are a big reason why.
But if I do have to move along, I cannot think of a better place to land than working with Kathleen Fitzpatrick at the MLA. (I know, I’m incredibly lucky to have such phenomenal bosses and mentors.) I’ll be responsible for much of the editorial work and community building related to the brand-new MLA Commons. So please, start using it now if you haven’t already, so that I have a wealth of material to work with when I come on board! As you might imagine, I’ll be thinking a lot about how the Commons might best serve not only its existing active members, but also people in alternative academic careers. I’ll also be thinking about the potential for cross-disciplinary collaboration as the Commons matures.
Between now and September, I have a lot of work to do: I am continuing to work on the analysis and reporting of SCI’s recent survey on career preparation for humanities scholars; SCI is convening one more meeting on each of our two main topics (new models of scholarly production and reforming humanities graduate education); and we’re starting to think about future directions for the newly-launched Praxis Network. Watch for more on all of those things in the months ahead. In addition, I’ll have a couple of fun “firsts”: I’ll be attending DHSI (for a course on visual design! I’m terribly excited) and giving a long paper at my first Digital Humanities conference (here’s the program, hot off the presses). It’s an exciting time for me; I never could have predicted any of this a couple of years ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds down the road.
I gave the following talk at the 2013 MLA Convention in Boston as part of an excellent roundtable organized by Paul Fyfe, who has also collected a number of resources in a Zotero library. The wide-ranging presentations sparked many thoughtful questions that I hope will lead to continued discussion about the ways that graduate training could be modified for the good of students, the discipline, and the public. Some of the slides are taken from my earlier presentation on SCI’s survey on career paths for humanities PhDs (a full report of which will be available later this year).
Humanities scholars come from a wide array of backgrounds and embark on a variety of careers in areas like libraries, museums, archives, higher education and humanities administration, publishing, research and technology, and more. SCI anticipates that data collected during the study will contribute to a deeper understanding of the diversity of career paths we pursue after our graduate studies, while also highlighting opportunities to better prepare students for a range of careers beyond the tenure track.
The surveys complement thepublic database that we recently created as a way to clarify the breadth of the field, and to foster community among a diverse group. If your work represents the diversity of the broad #alt-ac community, it’s not too late to tell us about yourself!
The surveys and directory are being administered as part of the Scholarly Communication Institute’s current phase of work — which includes a close concentration on graduate education reform (largely in the North American context) and the preparation of future knowledge workers, educators, and cultural heritage and scholarly communications professionals.
The survey results will help us to make curriculum recommendations so that graduate programs may better serve future students, and anonymized or summarized data will be made available at #alt-academy at a later date. Please contact me if you’d like to know more.