MLA Job Market

The MLA job list continues to suck:

The association’s Job Information List — a proxy for the tenure-track (or otherwise full-time) job market in English and foreign languages — included 851 jobs last year in English, 11 percent (102 jobs) fewer than the year before. The foreign language edition list included 808 jobs, or 12 percent (110 jobs) fewer than the year before.
The declines of the past five years bring the number of total jobs advertised to another new low, according to MLA, below the dip seen between 2007-08 and 2009-10.

The only good strategy for people considering going to grad school in these fields and hoping for a professorial position is 

A. Only go if you get accepted by an Ivy.

B. Remember it’s a gamble and decide in advance when you will get up from the table. I knew I would stop playing the moment I didn’t get a position that had words “Assistant Professor” in it. I wouldn’t be able to gamble away even a year of my life. Other people are in a better situation and can afford one or two years. But you have to be prepared to stop gambling and know in advance when that will be.


7 thoughts on “MLA Job Market”

  1. steps
    1- kill the tenure line job market (for the record I think tenure- vs job security is overrated) but in the US that’s the dumb system that exists.
    2 – use the dearth of students created by 1 to complain about useless departments
    3- totally de-skill all language instruction
    4 – ?
    5 – profit!


  2. I was on the job market for five years. Never could I have done that if it weren’t for hubby’s perpetual support. But even then, if I hadn’t gotten a job that last year, I was bitter enough to stop trying.

    Weirdly, we have a position in our department that we’ve had hardly any applications for — and of the ones we received, only about 2-3 are actually qualified in my mind. It’s an advanced position, so we want someone with experience. The majority of the applications we’ve gotten are people who are ABD or just graduated last year.


    1. Oh – and my department did not advertise on MLA because of the expense (supposedly — according to the administration). But we put the ad in the Chronicle, and of course, it’s on the jobs wiki. (I gave up looking at MLA by the third or fourth year — I just looked at the jobs wiki.)

      So is it that there are really less jobs? Or is it that MLA isn’t getting as many ads because people are putting the ads elsewhere? Is it just my department being Scrooges? Or are there others? That would probably take more research than I’m willing to do right now.


        1. ” I keep doing things the old-fashioned way.”

          Were you shmoozing up a storm and working the rooms in the DR? That’s how it’s done, think of it as a new intellectual challenge….


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