Friday, December 23, 2016

Blog CCXXIII (223): The Quit Litters

Apparently there is a whole new genre called "academic quit lit."  Basically these are essays from college professors--usually younger ones--who have decided to leave the profession in which they explain their reasons why.  Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed wrote an article on the genre: "Public Good-byes: Recent Dear John Letters from Academics Leaving Higher Education Signal a Resurgence in 'Quit Lit.'" They were not the only media outlet interested in the topic.  The Atlantic published several essays on this topic.  Ian Bogost's article makes his position clear with his title: "No One Cares That You Quit Your Job."  It is a short, but strong easy and well worth the read.  Megan Garber wrote another article on the topic: "The Rise of 'Quit Lit.'"  She notes that there is a strong theme in this literature: "'I quit,' goes the text. 'And you should, too,' goes the subtext."

All of these articles referenced an article that Oliver Lee, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington, wrote the Vox news and opinion website: "I Have One of the Best Jobs in Academia. Here's Why I'm Walking Away."

I spent six and a half years living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex; I have been to UT Arlington; I even spent some time looking up Lee's background, and I would never agree with his title.  But it is probably a bit unfair to pick on one professor, even if his essay got a lot of attention.  The Flaherty article makes it clear that a lot of others are quitting academia, and writing about it.  My read of the article is that the people who are going public often have very good options.  Lee, for example, has a law degree, and is apparently starting a legal career.  Others are going into the corporate world where they make much more than a college professor, even one at a very good school. 

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