not @mlajobs, no really

Early this Fall, I wrote a few pieces about the scurrilous formalization of the expiring PhD. In the wake of the furor caused by the ad from Colorado State, and another from Harvard, much virtual ink was spilt, some of it quite funny.

This evening, a retweet originating with Brian Croxall came across my feed highlighting an ad that should have come from the mlajobs tumblr. But it didn’t. It’s real:

Penn State U, DuBois – Full-Time Non-TT Assistant Prof. of English (DH, Lit, & Composition) – INTERVIEWS SCHEDULEDEdit

Full-time Nontenure-Track Assistant Professor of English

Teach three courses (9 credits) in Digital Humanities, Literature, and Composition a semester using traditional and hybrid delivery modes. Publish in refereed journals. Participate in professional organizations and in course, curriculum, and program development. Stay current in pedagogy appropriate for discipline through scholarly activities. Advise students and provide career guidance. Participate in campus, university, and community service activities. Position may be renewable. MLA interviews. Qualifications: Ph.D. in English, with specialty in Digital Humanities and expertise in British or American Literature. Evidence of potential in scholarship and professional development is expected. Commitment to highquality instruction in a studentcentered environment is desired. Interest in the instructional use of technology is required; interest in active and collaborative learning is an advantage. Prior collegelevel teaching is preferred. Enthusiasm for teaching in a multidisciplinary environment is important. Applicants should include a list of links to their significant digital humanities work, with appropriate access information. Finalists will be contacted and asked to provide a list of references.

How offensive. Penn State Dubois wants to hire an English PhD, with a specialty in Digital Humanities and British or American Lit, who has published in refereed journals, who’s up on their pedagogy, and who will have to advise students, do service, and is expected to be active in program development. That’s the description of a tenure-track professor. But, is this job for a tenure-track professor? No, of course not. It’s for a lecturer whose contract “may be renewed.”

The level of experience this ad describes doesn’t even fit the bill for many new PhDs who haven’t yet had a tenure-track job.

Now, Penn State Dubois offers Associate Degrees, which I guess means it is as much a community college as an extension campus of PSU. And it may be that community colleges are more used to and more likely to hire off track. But, the description here is the that of an R2 or quality SLAC. What does PSU Dubois expect? Do they simply think that DH people are all into that #alt-ac thing, and so don’t need the promise of traditional academic promotion in return for a commitment to research, publication, and teaching? Or is it simply that PSU Dubois knows there’s a large enough pool of surplus academic labor that they can get away with this? Or is this ad written for an inside candidate? If its the latter, then shame on you for putting other people through the MLA job wringer. If its any other reason, then shame on you for helping undermine the profession.


Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Chad Black

I, your humble contributor, am Chad Black. You can also find me on the web here.
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