POST: What Alt-Ac Can Do, and What It Can’t

Miriam Posner (UCLA) has posted her remarks from a panel she participated in on November 22, 2013, at the American Studies Association conference, sponsored by the Digital Humanities Caucus and chaired by Susan Garfinkel. The panel, Digital Humanities and the Neoliberal University: Complicity and/or Resistance?, featured Posner, Frances Abbott, Natalia Cecire, Alex Gil, and Lauren F. Klein, and continued recent conversations on social and cultural criticism in and of DH. In her talk, “What Alt-Ac Can Do, and What It Can’t,” Posner addressed the question of whether alt-ac and DH jobs provide a solution to the academic jobs crisis. (In short: no.) She goes further to shed light on the tension between the benefit of a rewarding, alternative career path and some of the systematic and increasingly visible concerns about alt-ac:

I do hope to give you pause as you consider what a university would look like if it were populated by many more people like me: flexible employees, carrying out a great deal of administrative work, whose time is managed by someone else, who do research when they can carve out the time, whose work belongs to someone else, and who have no voice in faculty governance. The picture begins to look a lot like a corporation.

dh+lib readers may be interested to note Posner’s remarks as they relate to alt-ac in GLAM:

So, many humanities Ph.D.s will head to cultural heritage institutions, like libraries, archives, and museums. But of course there aren’t that many of these jobs, either. Moreover, these institutions are peopled by professionals who have trained to do these things and will, if you ask them, confess that they’re not delighted about the influx of Ph.D.s and the attendant credential creep.

Other panel participants, Natalia Cecire and Alex Gil, have posted material from their talks here and here. DH Now has compiled a roundup of other recent posts on alt-ac, pointing to Posner’s post as well as an American Historical Association panel with Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, Pam Lach, Jason Myers, and Anne Mitchell Whisnant and a Chronicle of Higher Ed piece by Donna M. Bickford and Anne Mitchell Whisnant.

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Tami Albin, Jennie Burroughs, Joe Grobelny, Justin Schell, and Madelyn Washington (Editors-at-large for the week), Zach Coble (Editor for the week), and Caro Pinto and Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib Review Editors).