Category Archives: Responses

P. Morgan: How Will the MLA Support Implementation?

In a thorough and thoughtful critique of the Task Force Report, Paige Morgan writes:

What steps will the MLA take next in order to support these recommendations, and help Ph.D. programs implement them?

I am of course aware of the various guidelines that have been created – for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media, and for Institutional Support of and Access to IT for Faculty Members and Students. I appreciate those guidelines – and yet, I remember very clearly how opaque they were to me as a fairly new digital humanist, even 3-4 years back – so I wonder how they read to other academics who are new to digital humanities. I think that alone, the guidelines are far from sufficient to help departments make the transitions that have been proposed. Making such transitions will involve careful thinking about scaling up, and making incremental changes that support further adjustments.

Read the full post (part 1, part 2) on Morgan’s blog.

Paige Morgan recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in the Department of English and Textual Studies program.

B. Mangrum: Importance of departmental action

Ben Mangrum writes:

Post warnings and statistics on department websites, the Doctoral Study report recommends; inform students about the uphill battle for tenure; discuss honestly during the first year of graduate study the prospect of an adjunct career. For one, this recommendation places an ethical obligation upon departments to create awareness about the state of academia, which (although by no means a panacea) seems right. This strategy also gives departments a concrete avenue for staking out ground within the unfavorable, changing academic landscape. If a department provides concrete examples of its training for both academic and non-academic careers, as well as specific numbers about its placement record, this kind of “candor” could cultivate more transparency for both prospective and current students, who often view the job market as some veiled and ominous force.

Read the full post at Ethos Review.

Ben Mangrum is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

J. Ho: Low stipends a central concern

Jennifer Ho writes:

I do believe that we need to think beyond the model of training students to replicate themselves in the image of their faculty advisors—that there have to be alternative career possibilities that we actively seek out and encourage for students and that the reality of job market situations needs to be addressed from year one of students entering a PhD program, if not before.

The issue is this: students nowadays who are in a PhD program are doing it because they feel a calling—a compulsion—a greater drive to want to pursue a scholarly topic. I’m assuming that any student entering a PhD program in this day and age has intellectual questions that demand to be answered—that they feel keenly about—which is why they are getting themselves into student debt (hopefully just student debt and not credit card debt). And such intellectual passion should be met with faculty mentors and advisors and administrators who can help students achieve their academic goals in the best way possible—which ultimately is going to mean giving them a better quality of life, which means more money. In other words, a central issue here is increasing grad stipends, which, curiously, was not mentioned in this report. Wouldn’t money be one thing that would substantially make a grad program experience for PhD students better?

Read the full post at Ethos Review.

Jennifer Ho is an Associate Professor, English & Comparative Literature and Director of Graduate Studies, English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill