I am an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I study and teach twentieth-century literature in English. My research interests include modernism, the sociology of literature, genre fiction, South Asian literature in English, and the digital humanities. My book, Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man (2013), is published by Oxford University Press.
The MLA’s preliminary report on the 2016–2017 Job Information List is out, with the predictable and disheartening finding that job listings in both English and modern languages are down to another all-time low. Actually the situation is worse than the report’s first chart suggests, since the proportion of tenure-track positions has also been on a steady decline. Meanwhile the number of new PhDs in English is largely steady.
The Guardian, as part of its “Outside in America” series on homelessness, has published a feature about homeless adjunct instructors by Alastair Gee. It is painful reading. The protagonists of the story include a homeless English adjunct professor at San Jose State and an anonymous adjunct who pays the bills through sex work.
Syllabuses for my Fall 2017 courses are now up on the teaching page. I am teaching a new graduate seminar, Twentieth-Century Genre: The Case of the Detective, with readings in detective fiction, genre theory, and the high-low cultural divide. I have also significantly revised my undergraduate course on Early Twentieth-Century Fiction, bidding farewell, for now, to some of my favorites (Barnes) and non-favorites (Hemingway) in order to allow for more attention to genre fiction and Indian writing in English. I’m always happy to hear from interested students, including those not currently enrolled.
On July 1, my job security improved. I am now part of the ludicrously small proportion of the academic workface with tenure: 21% in the U.S. in 2015, according to this AAUP chart based on IPEDS data, as against 57% part-time and full-time non-tenure-track faculty (the other 22% are grad students and junior faculty on the tenure track). I first applied for full-time academic jobs in the fall of 2008—that glorious season! Though private and public university management used the financial crisis to justify the austerity they imposed, austerity did not end with the official end of the Great Recession, at least when it comes to hiring faculty into good jobs. The MLA’s most recent report on its Job Information list begins by remarking that four years of decline in both English and foreign-language job ads brings numbers to “another new low,” having sunk beneath the level of the “troughs” of earlier decades. “How’s the market this year?” the senior academics ask Ph.D.-job-seekers, as though they were asking about the weather. But as with the weather, short-term fluctuations do not disguise the menacing trend.