Thursday, June 5, 2014

Crowdsourcing: How do you feel about the new MLA Dissertation Proposal?

Dear Adjuncts, Grad Students, Post-Ac, Alt-Ac, and other academics who are getting or have PhDs but who do NOT have a FT faculty position. UPDATE: Or people in TT jobs not doing much research due to teaching load!

The MLA, via this report, has recommended reducing time to degree for people in MLA fields.
Reduce time to degree. Departments should design programs that can be completed in five years from entry into a doctoral program with a bachelor's degree as the highest degree attained. (p.15)
Individual trajectories vary, and some students' programs may take longer, especially those that require specialized linguistic, archival, or technological knowledge. (p. 2)
Given this, I have some questions for you. Surely someone else has asked.
  1. Would you be happier if your time to degree was shorter? 
  2. Would you be happier if you didn't have to produce a monograph dissertation? (links from former MLA president Sidonie Smith) 
  3. If you didn't get a job and produced a traditional monograph dissertation, how do you feel about that work now?
Here are some media followups to the report and some criticism.

I have lots and lots of thoughts about this recommendation. Do I have thoughts! But I am a tenured professor, so my thoughts may not be relevant, and my rule #1 of talking with privilege is to listen. So please, speak to me, O Adjuncts, Post/Alt-Ac, and Graduate Students of the Internet.

What I want to know is for those of you who have or are getting PhDs who do not have a full-time academic job, whether because you are a graduate student, an adjunct, or someone not in academia, how do you feel about this? If you haven't gotten an academic job, how do you feel about your scholarship now? Was it time wasted? Would you do it again? Would you rather have had options? If we are going to radically transform the nature of the humanities dissertation in order to better serve graduate students and save opportunity-cost for those who don't land full-time faculty employment of some sort, do you think that's a good idea?

Please respond in comments below, via twitter, via my public facebook page, or emailing me lollardfish AT gmail DOT com. Feel free to comment anonymously or confidentially via email. I will only quote you with explicit permission.