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Weekend Reading: Post-Conventions Edition

I know not all ProfHacker readers (or writers!) are historians or literary scholars, but the academic blogosphere in the past week has certainly been shaped by the fallout, good or bad, from the annual MLA and AHA conferences. I’ve collected some of the pieces I found most compelling or interesting from that bunch:

  • In “An MLA Story,” Lee Skallerup Bessette mediates on important questions about family, adjuctification, labor, and the academic profession. The piece is both moving and challenging:

    After the panel, which took place near the hotel that I stayed 2007, I walked past the hotel with someone on the panel. We had a drink at the bar there. I mentioned the fact that I had stayed there all those years ago, and suddenly the memory of the striking workers came rushing back to me. I was too ashamed of myself to mention that fact, sitting with a tireless advocate for workers rights that I had been so indifferent towards that year, and in many years that followed. Me, who would not think to empathize with hotel service workers had it not been for a rewritten novel. Me, who later will be called a “rock star” for contingent faculty issues. Me. My divided self.

  • In the wake of a controversial MLA panel on graduate education reform at MLA, Katina Rogers reflects on program size using the research she did while working for the Scholarly Communication Institute:

    We need graduate education reform, not a preservation of the status quo, as I hope I make clear throughout my work on the topic. But the reform must go beyond simply reducing program size, which on its own may not significantly improve employment prospects or reduce the reliance on contingent labor. Rethinking curricula with an eye toward collaboration and public engagement, tracking and celebrating the varied career outcomes of graduates, advocating for fair working conditions for all faculty members, and exploring ways to better support graduate students both during and after their studies are key elements in moving toward systemic improvements.

  • Rebecca Shuman’s “Even Ph.D.s Who Got ‘Full Funding’ Have Huge Amounts of Debt” reports on the efforts of Karen Kelsky (of The Professor Is In fame) to collect data about the debt incurred during graduate school—even, as the article’s title conveys, by students given “full funding” by their graduate institutions. The early results demand larger consideration:

    A shocking number of users also report $100,000 and up; some $200,000 and over, even with a funding package. “My graduate stipend did not cover my living expenses, books, money I needed for research,” explains one user. “TA salary and fee remission not enough to support my two children,” says another. Graduate students do not usually receive funding in the summer—but are often expected to complete intensive research or exam prep—so many users also cited summer living expenses. Though Kelsky expected a substantial reaction, she says she is still “stunned” at the rate at which entries keep coming in, and “with such devastating figures and stories.”

  • This is perhaps not shocking to many ProfHacker readers, but Steve Kolowich reports from recent survey data that skepticism about MOOCs is growing among academic leaders:

    Academic leaders increasingly think that massive open online courses are not sustainable for the institutions that offer them and will “cause confusion about higher-education degrees,” according to the results of an annual survey.

  • On a very different note, fellow ProfHacker Jeffrey McClurken compiled a stunning set of resources for teaching digital humanities at liberal arts colleges for a recent workshop. The list would be equally useful for anyone interested in DH, regardless of institution type—it’s certainly one of the most comprehensive lists of DH-related resources I’ve seen.

Our video this week comes apropros of nothing, really, but it was suggested by the brilliant Audrey Waters. So enjoy!

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by Nimesh Madhavan.]

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