Who wouldn’t want a job where you only have to work five hours a week, you get summers off, your whole job is reading and talking about books, and you can never be fired? Such is the enviable life of the tenured college literature professor, and all you have to do to get it is earn a Ph.D. So perhaps you, literature lover, are considering pursuing this path.These days, that summer sequestration may not even pay off in grants funded, or in merit money. But treating summer as solely for re-creation gives headquarters one more excuse, whether it's a fall-off in departmental research productivity, or a failure to incorporate the latest deaducationist fads in your course material, to trim your department's budget.
Well, what if I told you that by “five hours” I mean “80 hours,” and by “summers off” I mean “two months of unpaid research sequestration and curriculum planning”? What if you’ll never have time to read books, and when you talk about them, you’ll mostly be using made-up words like “deterritorialization” and “Othering”—because, as Ron Rosenbaum pointed out recently, the “dusty seminar rooms” of academia have the chief aim of theorizing every great book to death? And I can’t even tell you what kind of ass you have to kiss these days to get tenure—largely because, like most professors, I’m not on the tenure track, so I don’t know.
Don't do it. Just don't.
SO MUCH FOR ACADEMIC LEISURE.
Life in the humanities sucks. Then you're deconstructed.