I defended my dissertation, From the Classroom to the Movement: Schoolgirl Narratives and Cultural Citizenship in American Literature, in May 2016, and graduated with my Ph.D. in August of that year. I am forever grateful to my committee and my amazing chair, Anita Mannur, for getting me through that process.
I went through one spectacularly bad season on the job market in which I could not even get an interview for local adjunct positions. By the time I defended my dissertation, I had a job outside of the academy lined up (as a library specialist within the corrections system). Just to be safe, I went through another very bad season on the job market. It looked like it was just not meant to be for me, despite my awesome committee, and the dissertation fellowship, and my lovely personality. This failure is in part mine—I am not good at the genre of writing required for applications—and in part due to a bad job market. And, with a husband who I adore and who has a good career in a growing field, I could not justify moving all over in order to keep trying.
I seriously did not know how bad the job market was when I started grad school. I did not know about the hundreds of applicants per tenure track position and the looming adjunct crisis. I was told by the professors I admired that grad school was what I should do. I loved school and I chased that love without looking into job prospects. But, if you’ve been following the news about higher ed for the last decade, you know it’s rough out there. The odds are very bad for people pursuing Ph.D.s in the Humanities.
Still, I do not regret getting that Ph.D. I got to spend the bulk of my 20’s as a professional learner. It was hard and lonely and awesome. I also consider it fortunate that I was not particularly passionate about teaching. I would not know that if I hadn’t done it for five years, but if that had turned out to really be my dream job, I would have been devastated by my “failure.” Sometimes, I still think about turning that dissertation into a book or about finding a way back in, but more often than not, I am very happy with where I am.
Luckily, there was life outside the academy!
I found that I had other passions. Back to that change of careers. For the last four years, I have worked as a library specialist in a corrections setting. I will not get into more details here for privacy and security reasons, but I love it. I love the people. I love the work. I found that those I was made to serve were wearing jumpsuits, not backpacks. (Here’s a peek).
I also found that I am passionate about nature and animals, which has led my husband and me to start a microhomestead on about an acre of land. We’re in the first year. We have no idea what we’re doing. It’s a dream.
And, we have a little girl on the way. She is due on the 100th anniversary of U.S. women’s suffrage. The little badass.
As this blog moves forward, it will engage more with raising a little girl after spending almost a decade studying girlhood. Oi vey. It will also include book reviews, updates on the farm, and—of course—discussions of popular culture, history, and writing. Now, it’s life beyond the grad school part of Girlhoods, Grad School, and Popular Culture.