Saturday, 23 February 2008

could the coming recession be good for academia?

How much does timing matter when it comes to success in academia? Perhaps more than we'd like. Jonathan Kramnick on 3QD recalls his own experience:
Enter the 1970s. Expansion gave way to constriction, the good times to recession.... the jobs that had been abundant throughout the 1960s disappeared virtually over night.... If you were in graduate school at the time, your fate was decided by the dumb luck of when you defended your dissertation. Had you applied for jobs a year earlier, you might be an assistant professor at Brandeis. Now that the bottom had fallen out, you were lucky to get by as an adjunct.... Four-year stints in graduate school stretched to a decade. The culture of graduate school, with its attendant malaise and cynicism, was born into the world.

But there is a silver lining.

graduate school became a place of intellectual ferment. From this ground sprang post-structuralism, literary theory, and the sense that literary study was really beginning to change.
This, I believe, is what's known as a dilemma. Apparently, my choices are:
  1. Be a part of an intellectual revolution
  2. Get a job.
Except, of course, that it isn't exactly up to me.

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