Fish out of Water: Adaptability and Interdisciplinarity in Today’s Job Market

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 


In today’s economy, the field of composition studies is rapidly changing; partly out of the realities of the academic job market and partly as a result of the desire for high-level writing skills at the undergraduate level. As Magrino and Sorrell (2104) state in their discussion of the influx of graduate assistant in the composition classroom, “due to the demand upon Composition programs to provide courses that prepare undergraduates for authentic modes of discourse that they will encounter in the workplace, the number of undergraduate courses in Composition has risen dramatically, with the field of Business Communication seeing an especially steep spike.”

To the horror of some Comp/Rhet purists, the people who are often charged with teaching courses like freshman composition have no background in the discipline. On the opposite side of the coin, many of these interdisciplinary graduate students, notably from English literature, lament entering the Composition classroom and look at it as irrelevant to their ultimate career goals. Whether we are in the midst of an emerging paradigm or simply dealing with the result of a staffing numbers game, we believe that this is a significant and meaningful state of affairs for both instructor and student, and we are interested in fostering a conversation about its short-term and long-term effects on the nature of a profession where there are more and more degrees for fewer and fewer jobs.


This roundtable session looks to provoke an innovative and vibrant conversation about how best to profit from the multiplicity of academic backgrounds found among today’s composition instructors, especially those working at institutions without graduate programs in Composition & Rhetoric, in order to enrich the educational experience for the students in these courses and the professional prospects and intellectual trajectory of those teaching them.