Divorcing Academia: Freedom or Despair?

I have spent two years on the academic job market and had only a very few first-round interviews, and one campus visit.  I did not bother counting how many rejections; let us just call it a large number, nearing if not past 100.

Additionally, I have applied for at least 90 non-academic jobs in the same time-frame, probably more.  There, the closest I came was the final three for a job I had to convince myself I wanted, and, in the aftermath, am (still) very glad I did not take.  Admittedly, I have turned down many interviews, because I applied for the job without first investigating the company, and, investigating after receiving the interview request, said, “No thanks, charlatans/hucksters.”

But my heart has never been in applying for any non-academic job.  I am not being an arrogant son-of-a-bitch–at least, not too much of one–when I say that I am good at the meat of academia: I have three published articles, two (soon to be) published books, two book reviews, and three articles currently under review; another article almost ready to submit, and a third book for which I have about 50,000 words written, all of this in less than a year from defending my dissertation.  Granted, my articles are not published in “high-impact” journals.  Being a mixed medievalist-phenomenologist-semiotician means I am on the edge of everyone’s acceptable content-range.  Nevertheless, I think it’s hard to say that’s a bad publishing record; my books, at least, are both with highly reputable academic publishers.

I am also, from most of the feedback I’ve gotten (students and peers alike), a good teacher.

And yet, still, no one wants to hire me.


It could be that my doctoral program isn’t extremely well-known; but it is known somewhat, and respected–enough that I should receive attention from at least someone, somewhere.

It could just be that the market is particularly bad for my AOS/AOC this year–though the tendency away from metaphysical and towards “practical” topics of philosophy seems unlikely to ebb any time soon–and that, in a few months as the 2018-19 cycle starts, the market will be flush with jobs fit for me.

But I cannot wait for that.  It seems I may have to break up with academia… and I mean really and truly.  Not just “taking a break” and “exploring my options”.  I think I need to acknowledge that she is a faithless bitch and cut my ties.  Will this be freeing?  Will it cause me to despair?  Can I ever really be happy outside academia?  My thoughts, my research, my writing, my teaching; in some sense these seem like children, to me.  If I divorce the academy, will I still be able to be a father to them?  Or is it that I can only see them on the weekends, perhaps the occasional weeknight?

I do not think I will really feel free, to be honest, because the commitment is not externally imposed, but the consequence of an internal desire.  I would have to change myself; and I do not see that happening.

I interviewed for a last-minute, poorly-paying, one-year instructor position earlier this week.  It is a marginal step up from being an adjunct.  I’ll know their decision in a few days.  I have a couple other, long-shot applications out on the market, for which I have no expectations.


2 thoughts on “Divorcing Academia: Freedom or Despair?

  1. It appears kind of depressing. Lol. I was kind of going back-and-forth on whether or not I wanted to pursue an academic career, but I decided that I think I’m going to take my skills more in the direction of applied science, that is counselling or something of that sort, and then that’ll be kind of like a fieldwork for books and studies and papers and stuff.

    Emma sort of philosopher and so I think about things way too much but it appears to me that it might be that our current academic institution is or could be on its way out. Maybe not in our generation. But I tend to see as a freethinker that it may just be that the institution really is not conducive to freethinking and that it’s really more and more being geared towards supporting what we could call the liberal democratic system. I justify my defensive attitude by just the sheer number of people that want to be in the institution and then the crazy gauntlet that people have to go through just to even be considered. I’m not sure that that type of competition yields anything really good so far is the human condition in general. To me it’s could be kind of like a scholasticism; like the institution is reverting back to Medeival support of the church through religious apologies, or in this case theoretical critical apologies for the system for the benefit of our capitalistic idea of “freedom”.

    But I’m getting on my super high pedestal here. Lol

    I’m sorry it’s so difficult , I think that’s just so fucking lame. Good luck to you.


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