When I began my current doctoral program, I was told that a good-looking CV has four conference papers, three articles, a wide range of teaching experience, and a couple of research grants. If that seems a little outlandish to you, that’s because it is. Who has the time? Because of my teaching load, not only do I not have time to complete the reading for my courses, I certainly do not have time to do the research above and beyond, in order to keep up to date with my field and all of the brilliant scholarship that is coming out. Let alone write articles and go about getting them published. And I make time. I don’t sleep very much. I haven’t had a weekend in two years. I read during the breaks. I cut back on the oh so necessary decompression time affectionately known as “happy hour.” And still… Never quite enough, is it?
In case you haven’t picked up on this, let me clarify that I currently have the pleasure of being a graduate student in the humanities. Which means that I am a very sad person, most of the time. And even more so recently, with all the many signs of an intellectual End Time, galloping toward me. From what I understand, graduate school has always been a simultaneously exciting and debilitating state of life, and one that is difficult to discuss with normal humans, assuming that, as a graduate student in the humanities, you encounter any of these. But recently, this particular career path has become, in addition to stressful and somewhat unrewarding, actually frightening. We’re flocking to the university in droves, and the universities are, for the most part, letting us. They need the cheap labor that we provide as instructors (and many of us actually teach the classes – gone are the days when you were expected to grade exams and shadow a tenured professor – now we’re actually being tasked with writing our own syllabi and constructing curriculum) and, to be fair, we are compensated, though inadequately. But while it’s nice of universities to admit us and sometimes even give us funding, they’re not making room for any of us once we’re ready to become professors. The most striking difference between our experience and those of the older generation by whom we are taught is that now, there is no promise of a job waiting at the end of a long (averaging around ten+ years) commitment to a discipline. I firmly believe that you can suffer through anything if you know it’s temporary. We don’t have that knowledge anymore. The hopelessness of the future infiltrates the present, every minute of every day. And this is pretty bad for morale Continue reading