The part where I figure out why I care increasingly less about my dissertation research every year. (Is that true?! It may be true??!!!??)
Here’s a teaser from the draft:
Many post-academics pursue a chimera known as “independent scholarship”: They have time on top of their day job and family obligations (joys!) to research, write, and push themselves into journals. Scratch for membership in academic libraries. Confidence in their intellectual abilities—confidence even more ballsy for having survived their decision to leave the career.
Other post-academics pursue professions that draw upon SPECIFIC CONTENT KNOWLEDGE that they acquired while still academics. Your gummint-employed historians and industrial chemists and sociologists doing applied research for corporations and nonprofits and such.
Then there’s the rest of us.
Too busy with a new job (or the search for one) to publish our dissertations. Too reliant on steady pay to pursue freelancing and other types of self-employment. Too jaded to do much more than shelve the ol’ diss and occasionally wipe dust off with the rags that once were our conference interview suits.
Too preoccupied with “theory” or other ephemera to hope to apply our research to the world of paid work outside the college classroom.
Too confused about our identities after sloughing off the academic coil to know where to put all those years of thinking and feeling about our research.
Too angry about the state of the humanities, the public university, the academic labor market—too angry about all of it to feel that humanities research is still an ethical pursuit.
I hope that this story—the story of my journey into and out of (mostly out of) “Wallace Studies” —may help other scholars deal with this delicate, fraught part of the transition out of academia.