It is past one in the morning and for the last few hours I have been madly trying to put the finishing touches on a job application for an academic position. Over the past several weeks I have been feeling pressure from a number of people I know to get a job in academia. From aquaintences and colleagues at the State of Industry conference to the most intimate of relationships that are very dear to me. I have felt savaged by their explicit bewilderment and brash questions about why I am not working in academia, their well-intentioned assertions that I should be an academic, and the implication that I am basically wasting my time in my current job.

All of this is probably true. Yet I realised tonight as I have been writing my responses to the Key Selection Criteria that I am basically not yet ready. My biggest problem is that I have not demonstrated my expertise. To do this I need to publish. My greatest error has been to treat academia as an intellectual pursuit. It is not. I have over-invested in my capacity to intellectualise anything, to critically engage with it, to use highly esoteric, but powerful social and philosophical theories and to develop my own conceptual tools to genuinely understand social and cultural phenomena. None of this really matters when it comes time to get a job. I need to play the game. This shall involve me going to war, to mobilise and redirect my energies in a slightly different way.

I need to publish from my PhD, rather than simply having a list of interesting but non-expertise-based scholarly and quasi-scholarly (ie blog) publications. Most of my journal articles published have little or nothing to do with the core focus of my Phd. I am beginning to understand that the ruthlessness I have been cultivating in my current capitalist workplace needs to be redirected towards myself and my intellectual pursuits. I can feel an encroaching sadness born of the fact I need to relinquish my naive appreciation of scholarly work and recognise that it must be framed in terms of the current discourse of outcomes. I need to be ruthless with my own thinking, harness it, exploit it and produce outcomes.

What are my outcomes? I need to demonstrate them. I need to go to war against myself.

Maybe I am becoming an adult.

5 replies on “fraughtness”

  1. me = 4 job apps (level b) in last 2 months = 4 fails.


    and i have ‘outcomes’. not even getting interviews for most. 🙁

  2. I don’t think you’re wasted in your current job. Experience in journalism is useful for acka positions teaching in media/cultural studies.

    …honestly, though, are you that keen to get into acadamia? I mean, the working conditions are pretty fucked up. Why not do something interesting in a related field?
    I’ve been having similar problems: I have a badass PhD, Ma, etc etc, I _have_ published quite a bit, lots of RA, teaching experience. But I have not published a book. And here is where I’m all ‘wtf?’ Basically, you need to have had a proper acka job to _get_ a proper acka job. And when you get there, you get worked like a dog in conditions you wouldn’t tolerate in any other industry where the union had an ounce of power.

    I’ve been looking at other interesting jobs, and perhaps getting a grad dip. eg information or knowledge management. Librarian-ing, essentially, but in interesting areas: looking at public access to public collections, looking at how bodies organise their internal access to their documents (eg companies or organisations managing their collections – I’m esp interested in orgs like the ABC or commercial TV networks and the way they manage their AV collections.)
    I’ve also been looking at arts management, because I’m really interested in …. arts management (performing arts, mostly). But arts management is useful for all sorts of things, including grants bodies for the arts. I kind of flirted with the idea of urban planning, but I couldn’t hack/afford the long degree…

    … I dunno what you’re interested in, but I’ve been thinking ‘get some practical skills to complement your theoretical interests.’ So I’m really interested in digital media and community practice; hence the information management. I’m also interested in arts communities and arts policy; hence the arts management.

    I’m sure there are lots of other interesting examples. I’ve just been thinking ‘why don’t you go and _do_ all these interesting things, rather than just writing about other people doing them?’ Having a theoretical approach just makes it more interesting. And I feel that it kind of gives meaning to my theoretical work, as though I’m actually getting my finger out and getting real, putting the ideas to the test. It also feels as though actually _doing_ stuff validates my research and gives it meaning. Otherwise it’s really just theory-in-space and not of any particular use to anyone. And the one thing I want most from a job is to be useful.
    Oh, and money. I’d like some fucking money, thanks.

    Also: there are other ways of disseminating the shit we’ve learnt beyond teaching/publishing. I mean, there are more interesting ways of reaching lots of people, and of actually working _with_ other people. You don’t have to stop thinking big thoughts and writing long sentences just because you’re not in acadamia. I also think that getting out of the universities can be helpful; there’s a degree of institutionalisation that isn’t hugely helpful when you’re wanting to _learn_ about other people and the shit they’re into.

    …incidentally, I think your current writing work is really influencing your writing on this blog. A couple of your latest posts have been really really good. Surely the non-aca writing has contributed? I mean, maybe your current job is doing really good things for your writing and thinking skills? Also: money = good.

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