Last week – or nearly a week and half ago – the job postings for tenure track positions at English departments around the country were released by the Modern Language Association, inaugurating the seasonal academic job market for all us literature PhDs. I haven’t had a chance to look to see if there are any jobs for me to apply for. Part of that is cynicism and weariness: I’ve been on this carousel a few times already with largely disheartening results. But the main thing of it is I’m just too damn busy!
Full-time composition instruction means that I’m at my busiest when the job market is in season. The demand for composition classes is highest in the fall when there’s an influx of new students needing to complete their writing requirements. And full-time composition instruction is severely demanding: I’m grading papers 24/7 it seems. I also have to update my cover letter describing my qualifications and experience and my curriculum vitae. Not to mention push my article out again so I can claim to have a piece of scholarship out there under review somewhere, since I can’t claim to have published it yet, and despite the very astute and helpful advise I’ve gotten on how to revise the article from journals, which have been very flattering and supportive of the article but not willing to publish it just yet in its current state, I just haven’t been able to find a week’s worth of time to revisit it and rework it.
I’m afraid that by the time I’ve re-professionalized myself and prepared my pitch for the convention in December, the whole thing will have passed me by, because I’m too busy on the front lines teaching incoming students how to craft a paragraph, read critically, and produce a cogent argument, and basically carrying water so that the tenure-track faculty has time to do all those things I do not have the time to do.
I love teaching, and I enjoy working in academics – though not with the current salary and not with the current level of job insecurity. But I’m wondering if falling into this second-tier academic track is not self-perpetuating.