Working against the margins

Where is the Work

By George Hoagland

Today’s humanities professor isn’t the tweed-patched, undersocialized, clumsy technophobe we imagined scurrying around campus. Nor is she the zany free-spirited instructor who came later; you know, the teacher who just wants her class to feel the subject matter, to experience it on some kind of spiritual level.

Instead, today’s humanities professor networks in several disciplines (many of which fall outside traditional disciplinary boundaries), uses social media platforms as teaching and research tools, writes successful grants for a variety of projects, collaborates with colleagues and industry professionals, and runs apps like nobody’s business. On top of all that, today’s humanities professor doesn’t look like the stereotype either (check out the Twitter hashtag #ILookLikeAProfessor started by historian Sara Pritchard and literary scholar Adeline Koh).

The ivory tower—that image of an isolated, bucolic garden of privilege—no longer represents contemporary university life. Faculty in all disciplines shoulder increasing burdens of dollar-driven scholarship, often measured in the creation of career-ready graduates.

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