Category Archives: academic jobs

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Academe’s Willful Ignorance of African Literature

Every now and again, people declare that African literature has arrived, or is arriving, or will arrive soon. It’s not surprising that African literature is read as emerging: In the long emergency that seems to define Africa in the eyes of the rest of the world—in which “Africa” is a place of starving children, warring clans, and technological backwardness—the idea of African literature can seem positively utopian. It can be a delightful discovery when it seems to emerge. But that discov…

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Journalism Curricula? Get Me Rewrite

A year ago, in February 2014, the metrics on journalism education were trending in worrisome directions. Enrollments were down at some of the most prestigious programs in the country for the second year in a row, and a Poynter Institute study revealed that journalism faculty members viewed their programs as far more central to the journalistic enterprise than their professional colleagues did. More troubling, almost 40 percent of educators themselves acknowledged that their programs were not kee…

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Associate Dean of What?

The School of Social and Clinical Medicine at the University of Bristol is hiring a new “associate dean of eureka moments.” The job advertisement went viral on academic social media last Friday.

This is a real job at a real British university, not a satire. Someone decided to advertise for a new associate dean, an important leadership position, by using the phrase “eureka moments.” What’s going on here?

Jonathan Sandy, incoming dean of the faculty of health sciences at Bristol, writes in an emai…

Administrators, Authority, and Accountability

The battle over who should lead colleges and universities has been raging since the inception of higher education. It is most often, and stereotypically, cast as a fight between administrators and faculty members. Supposedly both interested in what students need, those parties are alternately said to be effective governors of higher education and major impediments to effective leadership.

On Monday, William Bowen and Eugene Tobin jumped into the fray with an excerpt from their new book, Locus of…

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Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech

What are professors allowed to say? Where are we are allowed to say it?

Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”

I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a l…

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Deans Love Books

“Doesn’t Matt care about publishing books anymore?” That’s what an editor of a well-established humanities journal recently asked one of my press colleagues. The editor had just returned from a meeting with me, where she had expressed interest in publishing “curated” collections of articles from back issues of the journal. It struck me as a wonderful idea.

“Why make these print books?” I asked. “What do you mean?” she replied. I explained that the articles already existed in digital form in Proj…

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The New Glass Ceiling in Academe

In honor of International Women’s Day, the university where I am currently a postdoctoral fellow held a conference on “glass ceilings in academia.” The midcareer professor who organized the conference invited me and a couple of other female postdocs to speak about our experiences as young women in the profession. But is the “glass ceiling” a relevant concept for describing the challenges we face at this stage in our careers? As postdocs, adjuncts, lecturers, and visiting assistant prof…

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War-College Woes

America’s war colleges are in the news with accusations that Sen. John E. Walsh of Montana plagiarized passages in his master’s thesis at the U.S. Army War College. But the problems of such institutions go deeper, often with their own distinctive wrinkle on ailments common to academe.

Even before Benjamin Ginsberg’s 2011 book, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, the problematic growth of academic administrators was a perennial hot topic in a…

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Academe’s Firing Squads

A quick Google search shows the wild popularity of a new genre of academic writing: the graduate-student blog about the evils of graduate school. With names like “100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate Schools,” these posts are populated by a cast of Dickensian caricatures of innocence and wickedness. Advisers are narcissistic thugs, and students are helpless, poverty-stricken orphans. Doctoral study, especially in the humanities, is a merciless fraternity sustained by cruel hazing rituals—arbi…

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Yes, the Humanities Are Struggling, but They Will Endure

Listen to the dire talk around colleges and universities, read op-eds and magazines, and you might think the humanities were in greater danger than the earth’s climate. In fact, despite the overheated rhetoric, the humanities are not at death’s door. Contemporary pressures will more likely push them into a new shape, even ultimately a healthier one.

That claim might seem bizarre. The proportion of college students majoring in the humanities has sunk to an all-time low. Students have turned their…