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« Mystery (novelist) solved! | Main | Be it resolved »

January 07, 2013



I think the assumption is that if you stick it out through a whole PhD, you want a teaching job; these are not skills for people who know they want to do something else. Rather, they need the other skills because there just aren't enough jobs for everyone who wants one. This is about giving students a genuine, realistic set of back-up plans so that when they get out of school at age 30 or so, they don't think the only option they have that makes use of what they learned in the previous decade is adjuncting.

Those "generic skills" would still be valuable to people going for teaching jobs. Classes in web design and digital rhetoric could easily translate to pedagogical skills for a multi-modal composition course as well as a job as a web designer. Courses in programming could just as easily be used in research (especially for digital humanities initiatives) as in a non-academic job. I wish that I had the option as a grad student of taking a computer programming course aimed at English grad students--it would have been just as valuable, if not more valuable, for my research and teaching than some of the other requirements for my degree.


I find this an extremely strange use of the word honor.

Andrea Kaston Tange

I am also leery of suggesting that an English degree is equivalent to job training in other highly specialized fields. That is, one course in digital humanities computing does not make a student a web designer (says my graphic-design-MA-qualified sister-in-law). Similarly, while I entertained thoughts of working for a museum or other historical facility doing research if I couldn't get a faculty job when I graduated, in fact, that is probably a job held by, oh, you know, an ART HISTORIAN. I think being practical with students about the job market is vital, and pretending they will all get R1 (or any) tenure-track jobs is lying. But I agree that field specializations aren't irrelevant at most places, and I think it behooves us as a profession to admit that we can't just pretend we are training people for every single career that involves research and words--even though the enterprising among us will be able to parlay PhD skills into other avenues of work.

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