NeMLA 2020 Roundtable: 'Getting Back in the Game': Professional Reinvention and Adaptation
Despite an increasingly grim job market outlook, the humanities continues to produce PhDs in large numbers. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of available Assistant Professor positions in the field of English dropped from 879 to 320. During the same time period, the number of non-tenure-track positions increased from 21% to 34%. Yet in 2016, 5,500 doctorates were still awarded despite the massive post-2008 decrease in obtainable positions. As Vimal Patel wrote in a Chronicle article from September 2018, “The mirage has vanished. The dream has endured.” As unlikely as it to find a tenure-track position, it is even more unlikely that those entering the job market will end up working at the type of institution that granted their degree, as Dylan Ruediger found while tracking career outcomes for historians, as detailed in the Chronicle. In order to survive, many academics have discovered the need to learn new skills, develop old ones, or change tactics during their initial job market search, as well as to stay relevant and reappointable if they are lucky enough to secure a full-time position.
We are interested in hearing from any and all academics--from graduate students to full professors--who have had to “get back in the game” in one way or another since they began working on their PhD thesis. “Getting back in the game” could mean scholarly publishing, writing for popular periodicals and/or the internet, teaching part-time and/or non-tenure-track, teaching at a two-year or for-profit institution, teaching a higher course load or in a different field, teaching online, acquiring another degree or certification(s) in order to enhance marketability, finding private sector work to complement and/or supplement one’s teaching and/or research position, leaving academia altogether for a private sector career, or, conversely, leaving the private sector to return to academia. We are also interested in professional adaptation as a means of survival and would love to hear about varied experiences learning educational technologies, such as social media platforms and video. Our roundtable is meant to be positive and constructive, and we hope to share strategies, as well as learn from one another and from the audience.