Here is a rather cynical, but amusing (if not simultaneously depressing and horrifying) take on academic (capitalist) life (unless of course it’s merely intended as some sort of satire, then it’s even more amusing to me):
I recently defended my dissertation in English at a land-grant institution in the Midwest. Our department’s national reputation plunges every year as the new hires get weirder and their expertise more esoteric. Ph.D. degrees from our department, unless you’re female or a minority, don’t provide much value in the marketplace. Even if you do fit into one of those desirable categories, you’re probably screwed and headed to a $40,000-a-year job — much less if you get one of those stunningly low-paid, visiting-professor gigs.Most professors in my department express nothing but contempt for both graduate students and undergraduates. In a recent faculty meeting, professors lamented that the number of graduate students in the department had dipped below acceptable levels. Faculty members faced the prospect of canceled graduate seminars and the horrific likelihood of having to teach two (count ’em!) undergraduate courses a semester. Tsk, tsk. Literary scholarship as we know it might cease to exist, plunging the world into postapocalyptic chaos. Meanwhile the casualty rate of the department’s graduate students on the tenure-track job market approaches that of the British at the Somme.
Pretty horrible, isn’t it? Am I depressed? Not at all.
I’m flourishing, making $100,000 a year as an adjunct, working nine months out of 12. This winter, as most of the people I know teaching literature were shivering in the cold and dark of the upper Midwest while eating ramen, I flew to Florida to bask in the sun and drink with Gore Vidal at the Key West Literary Seminar.
Adjuncting is the way of the future. Make no mistake about it: In 20 years, there won’t exist more than a handful of tenured professors. Universities want cheap, cheap labor, as much of it as they can get. While many lament that state of affairs, I embrace it and invite other graduate students and newly minted untouchables to do the same.
So, just how do you make $100,000 working as an adjunct English instructor?
The author provides a list for us:
1. Stop thinking of yourself as an intellectual.
2. Change who you associate with
3. Stop reading the scholarship
4. Think of yourself as providing a valuable service
5. Stay idealistic
6. Watch Risky Business to get the entrepreneurial spirit.
7. Care about students
8. Think of yourself as a mercenary
10. Remember that literary studies is ultimately a derivative and service-oriented discipline.
Read the whole thing here and decide if it’s brilliant satire or merely somewhat depressing!