Starting with the Global Financial Crisis of 2007, an already dwindling and tough job market for those who received a Ph.D. from humanities and social sciences became almost impossible to navigate especially for the new graduates. Even if the economy shows healing symptoms and the market some amelioration, with the use of the business and private enterprise models within academia along with the changes in the tenure system, careers alternative to the academic tenure became a real option and are not necessarily seen as failures.
Projects such as #Alt-academy or MLA’s recent scholarships on jobs outside of academia are valuable efforts in creating knowledge on using one’s academic skills and insights in a variety of not academic areas. As defined in #Alt- academy , these alternative careers are “for people with deep training and experience in the humanities, working or seeking employment — generally off the tenure track, but within the academic orbit — in universities and colleges, or allied knowledge and cultural heritage institutions such as museums, libraries, academic presses, historical societies, and governmental humanities organizations"
University administrators are already excited about these alternative careers, developing programs tailored towards them; Chronicle of Higher Education publishes many articles regarding when, where and hows of these careers and of course, discipline specific bodies opens up spaces for alternative paths in their annual meetings. As a discourse, alternative careers both traces a porous limit to what academia does / is while being appropriated by the very same academic presence.
This seminar seeks to discuss and to give a critique of the academic discourse that singlehandedly includes and excludes alternative careers: They are seen as non-failures but not as successes by the tenure tracked; they only arrive at the last instance when other paths fail, yet there is a space for them at the outskirts of this old nostalgic academic utopias. Hence we ask the question of academia that produces and controls its own alternatives: what does it mean to be in an alternative career? And more importantly to be an alternative to a specific academic discourse? What are the conditions, systems, practices that creates the disillusionment with the tenure? What does having an alternative shows about what is working and what is not working in the academic enterprise? What does an academic leave behind and loose when he or she chooses an alternative path and what does she gain? And of course what does alternative career does for the graduate education in general?
If you are interested please send a brief paper proposal along with a short info about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also directly submit your proposal to ACLA webpage between September 1- September 23. Thank you.
Elif Sendur/ Ph.D Candidate
Binghamton University Department of Comparative Literature