Discussion of Career Options for Humanities PhDs at #mla14

The following event, which takes place on Friday, 10 January from 2-4 p.m., may be of interest:

Discussion of Career Options for Humanities PhDs

Designed for graduate students and recent doctoral program graduates who may be thinking about pursuing careers beyond the classroom, this nuts-and-bolts conversation features three career services professionals, who will lead an informal discussion and offer brief presentations about the various employment paths and postdoctoral opportunities open to recipients of PhDs in the humanities. It will cover practical suggestions about where to begin, how to approach different kinds of searches, how to prepare application materials, how to incorporate a postdoc into career development, and how job seekers can make good use of their campus’s career services offices. The discussion is part of the MLA’s ongoing work, with support from the Mellon Foundation, to broaden the career horizons of humanities scholars and graduate students. Participants are encouraged to bring their CVs and other application materials for review. The presenters will be Jennifer E. Hobbs, Northwestern Univ.; Patrick Houlihan, Univ. of Chicago; and Kamilah McCoy, Northwestern Univ.

The discussion will take place from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, 10 January, in the Regal Room, Fairmont.

Note that the event does not appear in the program, but is included in the Convention Services page. Please share this information widely!

Sessions Related to Alt-Academic Careers at #mla14

The following sessions at the upcoming MLA convention may be of interest to people thinking about careers beyond the tenure track:

42. Using Your Language Proficiency and Cultural Expertise in a Federal Government Career.
Thursday, 9 January, 1:45–3:45 p.m., Gold, Fairmont Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Office of Research

Presiding: Erik Pohlmann, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Speakers: Joyce Baker, National Language Service Corps; Richard Donovan, Defense Language Inst.; Julie Johnson, United States Dept. of State

Session Description:
This workshop will provide an overview of various federal careers that utilize skills in languages and cultural expertise—translator, interpreter, instructor, intelligence analyst, language analyst, foreign language program manager, foreign service officer, and law enforcement officer. Recruiters and subject matter experts will discuss career opportunities and the application process. A question-and-answer period will follow.

173. Beyond the Protomonograph: New Models for the Dissertation
Thursday, 9 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Daniel Powell, Univ. of Victoria
Speakers: Melissa A. Dalgleish, York Univ.; Shawn Moore, Texas A&M Univ., College Station; James O’Sullivan, University Coll. Cork; Nick Sousanis, Columbia Univ.; Danielle Spinosa, York Univ.; Nicholas van Orden, Univ. of Alberta

Session Description:
Although the need for graduate education reform in the humanities is widely discussed, the traditional role of the dissertation as a capstone protomonograph has only begun to be questioned. This panel features six Pecha Kucha presentations (20 slides x 20 seconds) from graduate students developing radically new models of the dissertation, followed by ample discussion.

290. Reforming the Literature PhD
Friday, 10 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Chicago X, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature

Presiding: Russell A. Berman, Stanford Univ.
Speakers: Rachel Arteaga, Univ. of Washington, Seattle; Don H. Bialostosky, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Julia Brookins, American Historical Association; Juliette Cherbuliez, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities; John Allen Stevenson, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; Bill VanPatten, Michigan State Univ.; Karin Anneliese Wurst, Michigan State Univ.

Session Description:
A contracted academic job market; disruptions created by new and still emerging models for scholarly publishing and expression; and problems of cost, debt, and outcomes at every level of postsecondary education have combined to prompt a reconsideration of graduate education and doctoral training. This roundtable discusses current efforts to develop alternatives to the traditional PhD program.

352. Graduate Student Perspectives on Reforming Doctoral Study
Saturday, 11 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Ontario, Sheraton Chicago

A special session

Presiding: Heather Steffen, Carnegie Mellon Univ.

  1. “The Evolving Value of the Humanities PhD: A Data-Based View of Graduate Students’ Perspectives on the Future of the PhD,” Gregory Brennen, Univ. of Exeter
  2. “‘Student’ versus ‘Teacher’: How ‘Time to Completion’ Influences the Professional Development of Foreign Language Graduate Students,” Katie B. Angus, Univ. of Southern Mississippi
  3. “Graduate Student Engagement and Time to Degree: Collected Thoughts on a Manifesto,” Magdalen Stanley Majors, Wake Forest Univ.

Responding: Leonard Cassuto, Fordham Univ., Lincoln Center

For abstracts and description, visit carnegie-mellon.academia.edu/HeatherSteffen.

385. Feminists Leading for Change: Alt-Academic Feminism
Saturday, 11 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Parlor C, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages

Presiding: Michelle A. Massé, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge
Speakers: Maria Cotera, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Florence Howe, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York; Paula M. Krebs, Bridgewater State Univ.; Ellen Lee McCallum, Michigan State Univ.; Monica Miller, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge

Session Description:
This panel addresses feminism in academia as a living practice that permeates not only the classroom and the library but all of higher education. The speakers will discuss the importance of integrating feminist principles into fields such as graduate student activism, curriculum design and policy, administration, public humanities, and publishing.

439. Translation and Interpreting: Flexible Career Paths in Vulnerable Times
Saturday, 11 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Chicago IX, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the American Translators Association

Presiding: Dorothee Racette, American Translators Assn.
Speakers: Daryl Hague, Brigham Young Univ., UT; Elizabeth Lowe, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana; William Rivers, Joint National Committee for Languages
For more information, visit www.ttt.org/MLA2014/.

Session Description:
In addition to academic research (see www.atisa.org) and publications (see www.mla.org/ec_guidelines_translation), translation and interpreting are relevant as part-time consulting work for a full-time faculty member and as part-time or full-time commercial translation or interpreting for a university student. This roundtable will focus on career options.

471. Who Benefits? Competing Agendas and Ethics in Graduate Education
Saturday, 11 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Chicago X, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Academic Freedom and Professional Rights and Responsibilities

Presiding: David B. Downing, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania
Speakers: David B. Downing; Shane Peterson, Washington Univ. in St. Louis; Daniel Purdy, Penn State Univ., University Park; Katina Rogers, MLA; Jentery Sayers, Univ. of Victoria

Session Description:
This roundtable explores the responsibility programs have to graduate students given the current job market, including whether programs should continue to admit the same number of students, how to reform graduate education for the job market that exists, how to advise graduate students, and how program directors can respond to institutional pressure to grow, create, and maintain programs.

599. The Praxis Network: Rethinking Humanities Education, Together and in Public
Saturday, 11 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Arkansas, Sheraton Chicago

A special session

Presiding: Katina Rogers, MLA
Speakers: David F. Bell, Duke Univ.; Matthew K. Gold, New York City Coll. of Tech., City Univ. of New York; Kevin Kee, Brock Univ.; Cecilia Márquez, Univ. of Virginia; Kelli Massa, University Coll. London; William Albert Pannapacker, Hope Coll.; Donnie Sackey, Wayne State Univ.
For description of programs and overall project, visit praxis-network.org.

Session Description:
How can humanities programs better equip students for a wide range of careers, while also fostering methodological expertise and public engagement? This roundtable will discuss a few possible approaches as seen in the Praxis Network, a new international alliance of graduate and undergraduate programs that are making effective interventions in traditional models of humanities pedagogy and research.

607. Public Humanities
Saturday, 11 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Chicago IX, Sheraton Chicago

A linked session arranged in conjunction with The Presidential Forum: Vulnerable Times

Presiding: Laura Wexler, Yale Univ.

Speakers: Matti Bunzl, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana; James Chandler, Univ. of Chicago; Julie Ellison, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Farah Griffin, Columbia Univ.; Jean Elizabeth Howard, Columbia Univ.

Session Description:
What is the public face of the humanities, and how can humanities scholarship be publicly shared in vulnerable times? Speakers will address poetry and theater as genres of public humanities; humanities centers and humanities festivals as sites of civic engagement; the work of the humanities in museums, archives, and prisons; and public humanities curricula that connect universities with their communities.

Open to the public

621. Federal Government Opportunities in Foreign Languages for Language Instructors and Program Representatives
Saturday, 11 January, 3:30–5:30 p.m., Chicago X, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the MLA Office of Research

Session Description:
Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Foreign Language Program Office and other government agencies will describe training requirements the federal government is looking to sponsor as well as future employment possibilities for students. Designed for professors and university program administrators of federal programs in foreign languages, this session provides an understanding of what federal training requirements universities may propose and of what federal programs are available to undergraduate and graduate students.

745. Feminist Vulnerability on Postfeminist Campuses: Alt-Academic Feminism
Sunday, 12 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Erie, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages and Women in French

Presiding: E. Nicole Meyer, Univ. of Wisconsin, Green Bay

  1. “Toddlers and the Tenure Track: Best Practices for Protecting Academic Parents,” Kayla Walker Edin, Milligan Coll.
  2. “Women, Rape, and Academia,” Donna L. Potts, Kansas State Univ.
  3. “Feminist Research for Institutional Change: The Status of Women at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls,” Greta Gaard, Univ. of Wisconsin, River Falls

757. Alt-Ac Work and Gender: It’s Not Plan B
Sunday, 12 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Chicago A–B, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Sarah Werner, Folger Shakespeare Library

  1. “On the Alt-Ac Jungle Gym,” M. Stephanie Murray, Carnegie Mellon Univ.
  2. “E-mail Is Made of Women,” Amanda L. French, George Mason Univ.

For abstracts, visit sarahwerner.net/blog after 1 Dec.

Please mention sessions that I may have missed in the comments!


People frequently ask for recommendations of resources and background reading on graduate education reform and career paths for humanities scholars. Here are a few of the things I often suggest.

[This was originally posted at my personal site; please build on it!]

There are many other great resources out there, so please add to the list!