CFP: Commensurate with Experience: Work and the Next Generation of English Scholars (3/1/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Frank Gaughan
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Commensurate with Experience: Work
and the Next Generation of English Scholars. Proposed
Special Session for MLA '06 (3/01/06; MLA '06)

Citing findings from the National Center for
Educational Statistics (NCES), Louis Menand points out
in his 2005 contribution to MLA's _Profession_ that
between 1970 and 2001 the number of English majors has
dropped, roughly, by a third; however "the system is
producing the same number of doctorates in English
that it was producing back in 1970. These Ph.D.s have
trouble getting tenure-track jobs because fewer
students major in English, and therefore the demand
for English literature specialists has declined"

This situation places today's new English Ph.D.s in an
awkward position: on the one hand, highly qualified
and well-prepared for specialized teaching and
scholarship, on the other hand, confronted with
increasingly grim prospects for tenured or even
full-time work. For this, it may be necessary for the
next generation of academics to re-imagine ways of
presenting, valuing, and locating our collective work
outside traditional academe.

Alternatives, such as seeking work in business,
government, or non-profit organizations or else
cobbling together a living from contingent faculty
positions (see, e.g., Eileen Schell's _Gypsy
Academics_) are often not appealing for a variety of

Therefore, it is incumbent upon this next generation
of scholars to conceive of possibilities outside
traditional institutional and disciplinary models,
including potentially unrealistic ones.

In other words, it is possible and likely necessary to
respond to the current state of work in English
studies in ways that may range from fanciful to
satiric to expository. This panel seeks to explore
such responses. Potential panelists may wish to

1. Fictional (re)castings of academic work
2. Parodies and subsequent analyses of, e.g., rubrics,
university mission statements, job listings, or
appointment procedures
3. Accounts and syntheses of on-going or historical
educational reform movements

In short, this special session is open to a wide range
of possibilities; however, prospective panelists
should endeavor to suggest or enact reform, rather
than merely identify or lament problems -- real or

Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words (MS
Word attachments preferred) and a brief description of
your work, previous or forthcoming, that pertains to
this topic.

Deadline: March 1st, 2006

Email submissions to:

Frank Gaughan

Accepted panelists must be MLA members by April 1st

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Received on Thu Feb 02 2006 - 14:31:33 EST