The job market in the humanities is fucked. Everybody knows this. Most academics at every level pretend it isn’t so. I get it; some simply have no idea, some don’t want to have any idea, some think they’ll nab the brass ring of tenure one day anyways. And some will! More power to them. This blog isn’t about that. Instead, I just want to post about my experiences on the job market over the last 15 months or so.
First, I’m a digital humanist who has done research in book history, early modern drama, and cultures of knowledge. Theoretically, as a digital humanist I am either the saviour or destroyer of the humanities. So I wanted to list out all these applications to show that no matter how theoretically cutting edge the Chronicle of Higher Education or the New York Times thinks your field is, the job market is still fucked.
Second, I have noticed that academics almost never talk about the job market in any given subdiscipline, even though it’s usually a pretty small group of folks who are at all viable candidates.
This list essentially covers late Fall 2015 – early Spring 2017, centred (mostly) around the 2016 – 2017 academic hiring year. I finished my PhD from a Canadian university (Victoria) in mid-2016, while also working as a European Union-funded research at King’s College London. So I put applications in for both Canadian and European jobs, but none in the USA.
Where noted I was short listed and/or interviewed for a position. Otherwise I was autorejected by human resources (common in the European context), rejected in person by a committee member, or just never heard anything one way or another (thankfully quite rare in my case)
- Assistant Professor of Publishing – Simon Fraser University (short listed / campus visit)
- Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities – University of Amsterdam
- Lecturer in Digital Cultures – Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London
- Lecturer in Book History and Communications – Institute of English Studies, University of London
- Lecturer in Digital Humanities / Information Studies – Humanities and Arts Technology and Information Institute (HATII), University of Glasgow (short listed / virtual interview)
- Lectureship in Digital Humanities – University College Cork
- Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities – University of Ottawa
- Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in New Media and Digital Humanities – St. Francis Xavier University
- Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities – University of Helsinki (short listed / campus visit invite, declined because we’d left Europe)
Running total: 9
Reasoning that if I was competitive in the permanent, tenure job context (although falling just short) that I would have a good shot at a postdoctoral fellowship of some kind, I also put this set of materials in for a Fall 2017 start date:
- Chancellor’s Fellow in Digital Arts & Humanities – University of Edinburgh
- Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship – University of Toronto Scarborough
- Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellowship – University of British Columbia Okanagan
- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships (IF) – University College Cork
- Trinity Long Room Hub Visiting Research Fellowship COFUND – Trinity College Dublin (short listed / virtual interview)
Running total: 14
Wanting to get back to Canada with my Canadian spouse, I also applied to some PhD-adjacent positions in Canada, both, as it happens, in Ottawa:
- Research Analyst – Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
- Research Associate – Conference Board of Canada
Running total: 16
With regards to the nine academic positions, I personally know five of the nine folks who ended up being hired. They are awesome people! I’ve collaborated with several of them in the past and continue to do so. I’m thrilled they’ve gotten permanent positions. The job market is still fucked.
Not having received offers from any of these, my spouse & I planned our move back to Canada. She is a dual Canadian-Irish national, and if we had stayed in the UK my status would have derived from her European Union rights. In QUITE THE TWIST the UK has decided to leave the European Union. Anti-immigration sentiment was pretty high throughout 2016 and still seems to be going strong. Not to mention the prices that were already going up as the economic effects of this delusion-based politics began to play out. Happily, my post-PhD Canadian work permit was still valid, so we began to plan our move back to British Columbia!
Next post I’ll describe the non-profit job I did end up taking, back in British Columbia.