Help, I'm trapped in an ivory tower! Or "what the fuck am i getting myself into with this academia stuff"

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Dunno if this will go anywhere, but there seem to be a few of us and it's nice to have a home thread...

Some happy thoughts to kick off:

I know of people that have given a purportedly crippled software to a collegue to sabotage his project. I’ve been violently attacked verbally for having dared talking with my supervisor of a project I was collaborating with, because she feared that I wanted to “steal” her credit. And I can’t blame her: she was “helped” by another postdoc when she first came in Cambridge, only to find all credit for her work taken by the nice and smiling guy who scammed her by “helping” her. There are endless horror stories like that. Everywhere. Now, do you want to work in a place full of insanely clever people who are also insanely cynical and determined to do everything to get on top of you? If so, you can do top level science.

Pisle of dogs (seandalai), Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:08 (ten years ago) link

i gave up graduate school, where my degree would have only set me up for PHd work, to go to law school.

tbh, i should have become a circus clown instead. or a paid assassin.

Daniel, Esq., Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:12 (ten years ago) link

Or both. Imagine the possibilities.

Jaq, Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:13 (ten years ago) link

yeah, except few of the high-value assassin targets go to rodeo shows.

hard to cross-pollinate good careers.

Daniel, Esq., Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:14 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...


reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 17 May 2013 01:44 (eight years ago) link

2 stories:

1) friend goes to top 10 history dept, makes straight a's, gets into masters program at top 3 history grad department. makes a 3.7, runs the international blah blah film festival and in general excels in his studies. at the end of the 2 years, his advisor is like, "well, look, a 3.7 isn't bad and youre a smart guy, but i'm not going to write you a letter of recommendation. period. cause 2 other folx got 3.8's and frankly a phd for you will just be a $150,000 hole fr you to dig your way out of in bitterness and starbucks jobs. you should save yourself the misery, and to help you along i'm fucking your chances at getting into a phd program, on purpose. your welcome." dude went on to make crazy 6 figure salaries selling hospital equipmement in south america and land in seasia, and the advisdor was probably right. but that had to sting just a bit.

2) my dad's a professor. pay scale was quite comfortable, office politics were a bit sucky but when you have tenure who gives a fuck really. i could tell he loved his job, was bit jealous i didn't have the talent in acedemia to follow in his footsteps, honestly being a prof looked like an awesome job from close up.

BUT: even if you get that phd you're still about 1 in 50 from getting an opening position at a university, and what, 1 in 200 from getting tenured? competition is ridiculous, and yeah i've heard my share of backstabbing horror stories in the academic publishing communities. apply at your own risk!

still, nice work if you can get it.

messiahwannabe, Saturday, 18 May 2013 09:08 (eight years ago) link

two weeks pass...

'use other words, please':

'rich', re conference presentations, journal articles

j., Wednesday, 5 June 2013 22:00 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

Ruth Richards drove me to the station. As we sat in her car waiting for my train to come in she leaned back in her seat, lit a cigarette, then turned to me and said: “You know what keeps this whole thing going? What allows them to take themselves so seriously, and still go on behaving like this? It’s guys like my husband. My husband is a good man, a kind and gentle man, comes from a poor home, fought his way to the top. And he’s smart. Very, very smart. But you know? In spite of all that, and in spite of everything he knows, every morning of his life he wakes up, goes to the bathroom, starts to shave, and as he’s looking at himself in the mirror, somewhere inside of him a voice is saying: ‘Jesus Christ. I’m at Yale.’”


caek, Saturday, 24 August 2013 05:07 (eight years ago) link

this is a booming post (and a great blog)

caek, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 21:36 (eight years ago) link

sorry for link dump

caek, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 21:36 (eight years ago) link

As I enter my seventh year of teaching, I am now twelve days away from the big day: on the 18th of September there will be a private senior faculty meeting at which my colleagues will decide whether or not I get tenure. If they reject me, then I get a terminal year of employment in which to seek positions elsewhere (or else just leave the field) and then I lose my job. If they approve of me, I get the satisfaction of my colleague's esteem and temporary relief from the anxious feelings, and then my candidacy is kicked up the chain to another ad hoc committee (whose members are a secret) who then will take another 7-8 months to solicit further external letters, look over the report of my colleagues, and then decide if, for real, I actually get tenure or not. (The higher-up vote is not a rubber stamp at my school; at some institutions if the department supports you then it's a lock but that's not the case where I teach) The pressure is starting to get to me, in little ways and in big ways. Anyone on here who has made it to the farther shore? Any advice about how to manage the fear? I do realize, fully, how lucky I am to even be in this highly privileged position; when so many people are adjuncts, I got the brass ring, but now it's starting to burn my hands.

the tune was space, Friday, 6 September 2013 04:31 (eight years ago) link

I made it through, twice even because the year after the big T I got another, better job, but to hire me with T they had to put me through the process again. How to manage the fear: I didn't? The first time I traveled a lot that term and made sure to avoid my colleagues after the vote until I heard the result. The second time I got weird twitches. It takes a permanent toll.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 12:10 (eight years ago) link

*Raises hand*: are there schools at which the odds are 50/50 or worse?

ljubljana, Friday, 6 September 2013 13:22 (eight years ago) link

Yes. Harvard and Yale are pretty notorious for the very low rate at which junior faculty get tenure. My department hasn't had anyone come up for tenure in ten years and the last person who came up for it was denied tenure, so at my institution there isn't a great track record either. Trying to Keep It Positive, my book came out this spring, I've already published another article since then, and I have six book chapters or articles which have been accepted for publication and are forthcoming, so there's really no way they can make a productivity argument against my tenure. But they can always just decide that they don't like me or my work and then it's curtains.

the tune was space, Friday, 6 September 2013 14:16 (eight years ago) link

well if they "just don't like you" then they'll have justify that, and you can appeal that etc. what's crucial there are the outside letters. how many do you need? my institutions have gotten about half a dozen, which I understand is fairly normal for R1s, but I've interviewed at a UC school that said they needed about 10 outside letters.

the outside letter part is weird, since you're not allowed to know even who wrote them. but they hold big time sway, especially with committees above your departmental one.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 14:29 (eight years ago) link

yeah, my chair can't tell me anything about the outside letters, I get the impression that the department solicits 5-7 and the outside ad hoc committee solicits another 5-7, so they're at 10-14 by the end of the process. I was allowed to submit some names that I *did not* want asked (i.e. people whose work I critique in my book), but I couldn't have any knowledge of who they were going to ask, for obvious reasons. If I'm honest with myself, I'm probably in pretty good shape with my colleagues (at our faculty meetings and cocktail parties and receptions everyone keeps reassuring me, over and over, that I'm going to get this). The fear of the ad hoc committee is the real killer for me, as I am going to be at the mercy of people who aren't in my field, and there are plenty of people in the sciences who really don't like critical theory-oriented work in the humanities (with good reason- some of it is junk).

the tune was space, Friday, 6 September 2013 14:43 (eight years ago) link

yeah that's a lot of letters! it's a very mysterious thing: people who may not have heard of you are sent all of your work and asked to make a judgment on whether you'll lose your job or keep it for forever.

at my institutions departments don't send up the chain cases that they think stand a decent chance of failing.

just thinking about this stuff again gives me the willies, though. it's some comfort to know that we all go through this. but it's taken something out of me all the same. (though tbh so did grad school)

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 14:55 (eight years ago) link

xp - why would they include scientists on the ad hoc committee? Is that standard for humanities depts?

ljubljana, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:16 (eight years ago) link

The ad hoc folks may or may not be from the humanities. I just won't know.

As I lope towards the finish line, I gotta say I am increasingly struck by the push-pull of difference between the battle to get an academic book contract for a first book from a decent press and the battle to get tenure that comes in its wake. Post 2008 bank crisis and the new austerity that made university presses increasingly skeptical /skittish about first books, if you aren't saying something new, original, and different from the prevailing wisdom, then you aren't getting a book contract. But in order to get the approval of the older guard of senior scholars who are likely to be the sort of people approached for outside letters, you can't say something that bothers or pisses them off, repudiates their methodological commitments, re-directs the conversation away from their interests and habits and affiliations. So it seems like the very qualities that might help you get a book contract are the kind that might hurt you when it comes to getting approval from the mysterious outside letter writers. I guess the result is that it encourages a kind of "via media" of small c conservatism about the kind of arguments that you can make before you have tenure. If folks outside of academia wonder why it so often looks like people re-arranging the same intellectual furniture, this process seems to encourage that.

the tune was space, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:22 (eight years ago) link

i think that's a very eloquent description of the double-bind faced by younger academics. i have a book manuscript in review at the moment and it's basically my only hope for landing a job.

ryan, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:24 (eight years ago) link

my discipline (philo) doesn't require a book for tenure, or even for promotion to full, but we have the same issue with journal pubs, where acceptance rates in places that will count for tenure and promotion are 3%-5%. I said fuck it, I don't care about the same intellectual furniture as the bulk of my discipline, and I can do something else if this profession doesn't want me. I was warned about this from senior colleagues who are deeply sympathetic to my work, but I couldn't follow their advice and just write on what everyone else writes on; I can't do work that bores me. I'd have failed to get tenure on productivity grounds. but here I followed my nose, that what I was doing was something lots of other people *should* have considered interesting and worth promoting, and I wrote with that mission in mind.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:37 (eight years ago) link

being on outside of a job looking in, my thinking isn't much different. it's a wing and a prayer for me anyway so i figured might as well do something im passionate about and hope it's good enough and different enough that it stands out.

ryan, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:42 (eight years ago) link

well re getting a job with that attitude the best thing to do is to get to know as many senior people as you can, and tell them about your work in short and crystal clear and compelling ways. when someone bites send them your work, and follow up on it. even if they don't hire you then maybe you can get a letter. junior candidates with outside letters have a leg up, especially if the outside letters provide with comparisons with other junior people, maybe even with their own students.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:46 (eight years ago) link

that's good advice, thanks! I'm definitely working on an outside letter.

ryan, Friday, 6 September 2013 15:48 (eight years ago) link

i really don't know what compelled me to read through all of caek's lynx just now but christ

im a bogbrew bitch (Lamp), Friday, 6 September 2013 15:53 (eight years ago) link

you're in academia too, right Lamp?

the tune was space, Friday, 6 September 2013 16:01 (eight years ago) link

yeah that's a lot of letters! it's a very mysterious thing: people who may not have heard of you are sent all of your work and asked to make a judgment on whether you'll lose your job or keep it for forever.

how long do they typically spend doing that? cuz this would surely take a while to do properly once people have several articles, some chapters, maybe a book etc

i hope ttwp gets through successfully and with minimal agitation.....

гір кривбас кривий ріг (Nilmar Honorato da Silva), Friday, 6 September 2013 16:19 (eight years ago) link

usually a couple of weeks of devoted full-time work. it's a big deal.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 16:30 (eight years ago) link

My wife went through this two years ago, and since a very large % of our friends are also university faculty I've seen a whole lot of this recently. None of them really managed the fear so much as resigned themselves to the fact that once their materials were in there was nothing they could do to control the outcome so they at least stressed out in a different way, waiting for the letter to show up. Only one of these friends was denied tenure, and honestly his heart wasn't really in it anyway so it wasn't that surprising but still was pretty awful and he has since moved away which really sucks.

Now my wife's on the other side and it's kind of crazy and depressing for her to see how it all works - decisions overridden for shady reasons at very high levels, inappropriate things said at meetings that mean a of guarantee tenure or a lawsuit, etc.

joygoat, Friday, 6 September 2013 19:33 (eight years ago) link

power corrupts, even in academia

Aimless, Friday, 6 September 2013 19:46 (eight years ago) link

the american class system is unfair, even in academia

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 6 September 2013 20:19 (eight years ago) link

you're in academia too, right Lamp?

haha define 'in'

a series of thoughts on a friday afternoon: i wonder how many people are going to be able to get tenure spots in the next 5 years? 10 years? i wonder, somewhat desperately, about the value of my own research, abt the value of the undergraduate education students are getting, about the ways that universities serve to reinforce the growing inequality in our society and abt the values that universities (particularly elite universities) are instilling in their graduates. mostly i keep thinking about this article:

blah - hope yr tenure goes well dr3w but this thread is hella depressing for me

im a bogbrew bitch (Lamp), Friday, 6 September 2013 20:31 (eight years ago) link

i really don't know what compelled me to read through all of caek's lynx just now but christ

Ha sorry man.

Tenure oh boy. Good luck USA.

caek, Friday, 6 September 2013 20:42 (eight years ago) link

Drew if its any help I am in basically the opposite discipline to you and find you writing compelling and your miserable blog radical.

caek, Friday, 6 September 2013 20:44 (eight years ago) link

aren't you in astronomy, or physics, caek? you'll find that engineering is more an opposite of the humanities than the pure sciences, in particular because the latter two domains are usually, in NA at least, lumped together in colleges or schools of arts & sciences, and thus hiring & promotion decisions for both humanities and pure sciences go through the same people at that level. whereas engineers have their own colleges/schools & their own rules. & they are as a rule friendly to neither the humanities nor the pure sciences.

Euler, Friday, 6 September 2013 22:20 (eight years ago) link

tenure is a horrible system for faculty, students, staff and universities as a whole. at my place of employment the fucking librarians are tenured. which means you end up with 6-figure salaried morons who have been left behind by the past two decades of technological development and are not only unfireable but wield a disproportionately large hammer in terms of influence and power.

adam, Friday, 6 September 2013 23:02 (eight years ago) link

not to mention that the inherent inflexibility of the tenure system leads to lumbering faculty bodies capable only of noisily and unattractively blocking realistic and necessary policy changes.

adam, Friday, 6 September 2013 23:04 (eight years ago) link

the moribund atmosphere in a department due to what i assume were 80s/90s tenure decisions is precisely the reason i didn't take an otherwise good postdoc at an R1 a couple of years ago.

caek, Saturday, 7 September 2013 02:14 (eight years ago) link

Yeah. It seems like the integral of productivity, total product I guess, is most important. Why not end tenure but also lower the productivity expectation a bit. Most engineers leaning toward academia seem to be trying the industry-to-tenure gambit these days, since a post doc no longer guarantees a professorship.

6 Tuesdays on every Tuesday. This is called dumpy pants. (Sufjan Grafton), Saturday, 7 September 2013 03:10 (eight years ago) link

pretty isolated at the academic law library where i work, doing unsupported special collections stuff in tech services, no law degree just a library degree, making 15 bucks an hour (could be so much worse), at least the benefits are good. hearing word that my boss is the only non-j.d. librarian position here and she's just completely full of shit, 100% doo-doo brown, every last cell, but someone you don't want to try to push out, or at least i don't because i don't have it in me, i'm too inexperienced and raw. there's a new library director and i had some hope earlier this year because two tenured idiots are on the verge of retirement, but that's evaporated and i'm gritting my teeth covering for my boss's shitty work ethic and idiotic approach to everything. don't know how i can jump ship to something better since i feel like damaged goods, im almost 5 years past library school and still haven't had a professional-level job, my skill set seems way too skimpy for everything i see, oh yeah i hate this fucking place and all of the mormon breeders in it, doubt that good will is gonna carry me anywhere here. think it's finally time to save up for a year then get the hell out of here.

forevermore (a maven) (Matt P), Saturday, 7 September 2013 03:40 (eight years ago) link

speaking of grim forecasts regarding academia today, has anybody else here checked out this book?

full disclosure: he's a colleague at my school, so I'm biased. I just read it last weekend. a really impassioned rant against the bloat of administration, there are some points at which he just reads schools to filth, I found it pretty addictive. That said, I wonder how it might read to someone who was not, themselves, a professor . . . The argument might simply come off as nostalgia for a lost moment of institutional dominance. But when he's on, he's on.

the tune was space, Saturday, 7 September 2013 06:35 (eight years ago) link

didn't read it yet, but it was discussed positively in this great frank piece from the latest baffler:

"Dave Barlow" is the name Lou uses on sabermetrics baseball sites (s.clover), Saturday, 7 September 2013 14:12 (eight years ago) link

you know when your boss has a ph.d. in communications, you're in trouble

j., Saturday, 7 September 2013 14:37 (eight years ago) link

that baffler piece is brutal and righteous

ryan, Saturday, 7 September 2013 15:37 (eight years ago) link

"That the people who hold the ultimate authority at our institutions of higher learning are dedicated to a notorious form of pseudo-knowledge is richly ironic, and it is also telling. The point of management theory, after all, is to establish the legitimacy of a social order and a social class who are, in fact, little more than drones."

poetic justice for humanities departments that travesty the socialism they tout by privileging privileged grad students over disadvantaged grad students

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 7 September 2013 15:42 (eight years ago) link

well since I barfed up all my tenure anxiety earlier in this thread, I thought I would share my good news: my department voted unanimously to support my tenure today. Now it goes up to the ad hoc committee so I will still have six months more of uncertainty and suspense, but my tenure could have simply ended today if my department had decided to deny me. The two hours of waiting around while they were at their meeting was a scary, scary time, and I was so freaked out when my chair called and started up by saying "I'm so sorry . . . " *I immediately assume he's about to tell me that I got shut down* " . . . to have taken so long to call you to tell you." Yikes!

I am really happy and really relieved. And I hope that I'm able to be mindful of the sheer luck and contingency that swaddles my "success" in the field- I think human beings are inclined to think that if they are happy and successful that it is somehow about their merit, that they deserve what they have and have earned it, even though they still know that the system as a whole is rigged and unfair and arbitrary in countless structural ways, no one wants that to apply too directly to their own case (we feel bathed in a tacit cloud of meritocracy). So, as much as I want to feel that this is the happy result of seven years of hard work in the department and beyond, I also know of so many talented and hard working people who are adjuncts who never even got the shot that I have had. Okay, gotta go to sleep so I can get up and teach my grad seminar.

the tune was space, Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:12 (eight years ago) link


Very gud laser controled organ. (Matt P), Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:33 (eight years ago) link

i have grad cohort peers who quit, and grad cohort peers who graduated then quit, and loads now who have since been tenured, some deservedly so, some unaccountably so, and one who it must be said played the game with all due ambition and toil and can't nobody tell them nothing, and still, it's nice to see them signing up for workshops for stimulating lost creativity and for figuring out how to write and overcome blocks and be productive again, because even having all the comforts and advantages of a secure place within the ivory tower's walls means nothing, that shit just comes and goes for all too elusive reasons.

<gif of yosemite sam doing dance-rabbit etc, pistols blazing>

j., Tuesday, 27 August 2019 03:57 (two years ago) link

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 18:13 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

A year and change out of academia, I feel a lot more relaxed and am better at my instrument(s) but also sometimes feel like I'm getting dumber, spend way too much time online, and actively seek out work in my second language to keep from getting bored. My carbon footprint is definitely worse.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 15 October 2019 15:48 (two years ago) link

naw dawg i'm getting dumber too and i'm still on the inside, pretty sure it's trump's fault

j., Tuesday, 15 October 2019 16:00 (two years ago) link

I've managed to get a hefty amount of stuff done since the beginning of my postdoc yet have never felt dumber or less in tune with my work.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 October 2019 16:10 (two years ago) link

after four years and change I'm finally getting as good at teaching in my third language as I was in my first, or maybe in some ways better because I can't rely on jokes and have to be sensitive to how to express things that I would brush over in English.

L'assie (Euler), Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:02 (two years ago) link

yeah things like that make me feel for my international students, what are they even getting if the jokes don't get through the native-fluency filter

j., Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:11 (two years ago) link

yeah. I have so much more sympathy now for my non-native-speaker profs too (tbh most of them through undergrad & grad). they weren't usually funny but now I see why.

tbh now at least my masters courses are full of non-native-speaker students, so we're all working in our third or fourth languages. somehow it works?

L'assie (Euler), Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:16 (two years ago) link

naw dawg i'm getting dumber too and i'm still on the inside, pretty sure it's trump's fault

― j., mardi 15 octobre 2019 11:00 (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

Could just be age then

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:38 (two years ago) link

i'm on the inside and i'm dying

marcos, Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:39 (two years ago) link

This was posted on the 00s tracks thread and, although my life isn't this adventurous, I think it goes some way towards explaining my overwhelming lack of motivation to apply for the five good tenure-track jobs that are currently advertised by the College Music Society:

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Friday, 18 October 2019 14:31 (two years ago) link

Is there anyone ITT who got a PhD, left academia (couldn't get a job or other reasons), and now feels that going to grad school in the first place was a big waste of time?

VC, Thursday, 24 October 2019 03:26 (two years ago) link

On second thought I guess that is unlikely to have happened to anybody here, but I'd also be interested to hear anecdotes about other people it happened to (interested in knowing whether that sort of experience is possible/common, and what it feels like).

VC, Thursday, 24 October 2019 03:33 (two years ago) link

I’m not sure I made the wrong decision to do it given what I knew at the time. I use the skills I picked up every day and the credential has opened doors for me. And I enjoyed the life for a while.

But I didn’t enjoy it for as long as I persisted. And I could have picked up the skills I’ve gone on to use much quicker and cheaper some other way than 5 years of grad school and 2 postdocs.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 24 October 2019 14:32 (two years ago) link

I'm not quite through yet but I certainly don't regret writing my doctoral thesis, which was something I needed to get out of my system anyway.

pomenitul, Thursday, 24 October 2019 14:45 (two years ago) link

i have not left, but i have been stuck in adjunct hell for a long time now. it's hard to imagine being regretful, but i started attending college when i was in high school, and then got a head start on grad school when i was in college, and then switched programs and schools to really begin grad school, so all along i did not feel like i was making life-economic choices against various opportunity costs, but just doing what i wanted within the framework i mostly already existed in. in significant ways i feel like doing all this has brought me 'nothing', but i value the imponderable totality of ways it has affected my intellectual and personal development.

on the other hand, the longer i am stuck being exploited, and i see how 'far behind' it is putting me in life with regard to things that it is hard for a person not to value conventionally to some degree (economic security and financial independence mainly, and what flows from those, like the respect of romantic partners and the reciprocal attitudes that class-neighbors extend to one another), the more i am apprehensive that a huge wave of regret is coming over the horizon someday to drown me, once my values decisively shift and i confront the reality that academia has deprived me of the (fundamentally materialistic as well as socially-valuable) materials of a life.

j., Thursday, 24 October 2019 16:29 (two years ago) link

I often second-guess my choice of MA programme and my decision to accept parental support, which I'd sworn off years earlier, to do a PhD right after; not getting funding was a sign that I wasn't ready and at least needed a year or two out to build skills and a portfolio and/or eplore other options. But, no, I don't ever really wish I had just started working at a desk job at 22 or something. (I did have those kinds of doubts for a while, until I realized I was willing to leave a f/t desk job to move halfway across the country to teach one course because I liked that so much better.)

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Thursday, 24 October 2019 18:43 (two years ago) link

loving the phd so far (3 years in)

flopson, Thursday, 24 October 2019 21:13 (two years ago) link

just doing what i wanted within the framework i mostly already existed in

this really speaks to me because when i reflect back on my decision to go to grad school it was just a combination of enjoying it and inertia.

i am given to huge waves of regret over academia (i sometimes think my life would be objectively much better if I had not gotten a phd, or at least not a phd in english) but then I am careful to remind myself that the things that are bad about my life are due at least as much to my character and all the other bad choices i tend to make (or not make, as it were).

ryan, Friday, 25 October 2019 15:11 (two years ago) link

a close friend went to law school, routinely works 80 hour weeks, is essentially suicidally miserable at his job and regrets his career path....but i think "well at least he has a career!"

ryan, Friday, 25 October 2019 15:12 (two years ago) link

Maybe more to VC's question, I do have an old friend who did a PhD in sociology and has been consistently working as a sessional (adjunct) at the local uni where we both did our undergrads for years. He seemed to get a decent course load every year, and owns a house (way out in the boonies) and supports a kid with his spouse, but has been incredibly bitter the whole time. This fall, he has started law school.

Another friend has become completely disenchanted with academia and his entire field of study, blames his PhD for ruining his marriage and financial situation, and seems to constantly share right-wing links on social media now. Last I heard, he was applying to teacher's college and hoped to teach a different subject than the one he studied at the high school level.

So I don't think the experience is uncommon.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Friday, 25 October 2019 15:24 (two years ago) link

ryan i think you should have business cards made up that say R Y A N on the front and on the back 'published author'

j., Friday, 25 October 2019 16:24 (two years ago) link

"man about town"

ryan, Friday, 25 October 2019 18:35 (two years ago) link

a close friend went to law school, routinely works 80 hour weeks, is essentially suicidally miserable at his job and regrets his career path....but i think "well at least he has a career!"

― ryan, Friday, October 25, 2019 11:12 AM (three hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

maybe im still too young or canadian but the avoiding having a career part seems like feature not bug? i tend to think, this might be less fun when it becomes more like a career

flopson, Friday, 25 October 2019 19:02 (two years ago) link

it's never really like a career, for better or for worse, though I have colleagues who wear coats and ties to convince themselves (or their parents) that it is like a career. me, I just don't wear pants and work 16 hours a day, best of all worlds

L'assie (Euler), Friday, 25 October 2019 19:23 (two years ago) link

i get stressed during the intense workload stress periods (run-up to deadlines) then *really* enjoy the first couple weeks of relative chillness after a deadline passes. but then i get restless and sign myself up for another deadline. gives me an excuse to turn down social obligations

flopson, Friday, 25 October 2019 19:34 (two years ago) link

We don't do careers in Canada.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Friday, 25 October 2019 21:19 (two years ago) link

Does Canada not have the Protestant work ethic?

It seems like "don't expect to make a career out of it" may be the best advice to give someone considering getting into academia... yet apparently it is impossible (speaking as a US grad student) to get through grad school without constantly being reminded that one is being prepared for an academic career!

VC, Saturday, 26 October 2019 03:01 (two years ago) link

the opportunity cost alone makes it hard to justify as anything but career prep

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 26 October 2019 03:03 (two years ago) link

Does Canada not have the Protestant work ethic?

If you're American, no, thank Christ. If you're European, very much so, yes.

pomenitul, Saturday, 26 October 2019 08:03 (two years ago) link

what if you're quebecois

j., Saturday, 26 October 2019 08:17 (two years ago) link

About the same tbh.

pomenitul, Saturday, 26 October 2019 08:17 (two years ago) link

Ha, I was just kind of riffing on flopson's post tbh but maybe there is a cultural difference?

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Saturday, 26 October 2019 12:35 (two years ago) link

there might be some cultural difference but maybe more the employer provided health care thing

flopson, Sunday, 27 October 2019 02:38 (two years ago) link

also sorry i didn’t mean to be dismissive about the adjuncting /no stable employment struggle. however i think ryans lawyer friends life stinks ass

flopson, Sunday, 27 October 2019 02:45 (two years ago) link

ryans lawyer friends life stinks ass

To say the least. I'd rather be on the dole.

pomenitul, Sunday, 27 October 2019 09:37 (two years ago) link

George Michael agrees:

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 October 2019 11:44 (two years ago) link

George Michael otm.

pomenitul, Sunday, 27 October 2019 14:04 (two years ago) link

I don't think I'm ever going to get over idealizing academia and regretting not taking that path. I know that it's to some extent a grass-is-greener thing, but it's hard not feel envious when friends from the MA years are finishing their doctorates and landing cool post-docs and jobs - basically fulfilling this future that I'd spent so much time imagining for myself and which my brain still latches onto when I'm down.

jmm, Sunday, 27 October 2019 14:43 (two years ago) link

four weeks pass...

h/t j. (thread):

Can I ask academics of any level of seniority how many hours a week they reckon they work. My current estimate is over 100. I am a mug. But what is the norm in real life. ?

— mary beard (@wmarybeard) November 23, 2019

No language just sound (Sund4r), Monday, 25 November 2019 04:20 (two years ago) link

five months pass...
eight months pass...

Not 'academia' per se, but can anyone recommend any websites/journals/magazines accepting papers (or articles) on anything film/music/art/culture/psychoanalysis-y? Probably more casual than peer-reviewed, but possibly either.

I am unable to proceed onto a doctorate yet due to technicalities that have been compounded by these times, and feel (like many, no doubt) that I am utterly stagnating. It helps to read theory, but I find my motivation lacking when there isn't something concrete to channel it into. I'll look into different things, but just wondered if anyone has specifically heard of anything recently, or had success in different places.

tangent x (tangenttangent), Sunday, 31 January 2021 18:56 (eleven months ago) link

Sorry to hear that the pandemic has been an impediment to your studies/research on top of everything else.

This might be too academic a suggestion, but have you considered Paragraph? Their editorial board is more open to exploring the intersection between aesthetics and psychoanalysis than most. Failing that, maybe 3:AM Magazine if you'd rather keep the ivory tower at bay?

I also came across this ongoing project a few days ago and was tempted to submit the entirety of the 'recently on ILX Dreams…' thread:

pomenitul, Sunday, 31 January 2021 20:40 (eleven months ago) link

Thank you for these really excellent suggestions! I found some other places, but honestly none of them were as exciting as this.

Ha, coincidentally, the lockdown dreams project is hosted by the very department I am unable to begin working in! Well, the theoretical side of it anyway. I'm supposed to progress onto a clinical doctorate, but it's going to be at least 2 years before I can begin and honestly I don't know if maybe I should do a PhD while I'm waiting, or if that is mad.

Is anyone working on a PhD during lockdown, and if so, how is it?

tangent x (tangenttangent), Tuesday, 2 February 2021 21:49 (eleven months ago) link

one month passes...

So my workplace (not just UCSF, this is UC-wide) has done something great:

After more than two years of negotiations, UC has reached an open access agreement with Elsevier! 🥳

— UCSF Library (@ucsf_library) March 16, 2021

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 16 March 2021 16:21 (ten months ago) link

Here's the general UCOP post, though the UCSF one linked there has more specifics

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 16 March 2021 16:27 (ten months ago) link

two months pass...

well after 25 years in academia I've applied for a science writing job, no doubt way off base but a worthwhile message to self

assert (matttkkkk), Sunday, 13 June 2021 06:56 (seven months ago) link

anyone fancy applying for this?

I screamed

— Christopher DeWeese (@lighghghght) June 15, 2021

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 15 June 2021 19:26 (seven months ago) link

six months pass...

Does this thread ring true for anyone still in the game?

But I think the largest group of faculty, for a variety of reasons, aren't making big job moves. If I had to describe what the Great Resignation looks like for them, I'd call it disengagement. A general pulling back or away, a doubling down on autonomy.

— Kevin R. McClure (@kevinrmcclure) January 11, 2022

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 14 January 2022 06:30 (five days ago) link

It pretty much describes how my spouse and I are operating. I always had a tenuous connection to my department (non tenure stream spousal accommodation who teaches primarily in an interdisciplinary program that is a tiny part of the overall focus) and not being around any colleagues for the past two years makes me feel zero connection at all. My wife could go up for full but what’s the point? It would be a pittance raise and more responsibility in exchange for an ego boost and the dept getting to brag about another full professor.

We’ve lost a number of tenured faculty with no hope of those lines coming back anytime soon (and we know of two who have campus visits for other jobs coming up) so all of them are on literally every grad committee because someone has to be. We’re on our third (interim) chair in the 4.5 years I’ve been here.

I could get a private sector (or university staff) IT/dev job that pays more but it would be a 12 month 9-5 office job vs being able to do whatever for three months every summer. Basically we’re at a sweet spot of time/money/workload and despite neither of us being really invested at all we can’t think of how anything could be better. So I do my best at teaching but go through the motions on everything else whiles looking forward to summers.

joygoat, Sunday, 16 January 2022 16:10 (three days ago) link

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