Reading through the table of contents of the recent PMLA–yes, I still have that MLA membership–reminds me how far I am from what I thought would happen with my degrees in English. I guess this is going to be one of those dumb posts about the path taken, so stop here if you know the words to this tune, or sing along.
I was one of that army of PhD/ABDs in the 90s applying for academic positions, where competing apparently required more than getting publications in good journals in grad school. Skipping the post-mortem that would certainly include “maybe my letters were all wrong,” “my Marxist leanings were too radical,” “it was [insert your favorite] discrimination,” I’ll just say, it didn’t happen for me. I did eventually get a non-tenure track teaching position and then fell into faculty development/instructional technology. It was a good, if unplanned fall.
Still, I look at articles about literature and am reminded that I still know a lot of stuff and that some approaches haven’t changed much. I’m also reminded that I don’t think I would have been happy with one of the sought-after traditional faculty positions, but I don’t know. I look at them now as too restrictive, too narrow for my tastes, unless I could have been a star who dabbled in whatever she liked, whenever she liked. Are there really such positions?
Stumbling onto this path has been good in terms of being happy with the work I do, even if I wish this particular path wound through another city. I don’t regret my original studies. On the contrary, I did what I wanted to do; I just didn’t know what I would end up doing with it, and who does, really? I like knowing what I know, and at least I got rid of that toothpaste image from the last post.