Monday, June 06, 2005

More on self-help

Is it only me, or does it seem as though a disproportionate number of academic bloggers have recently received tenure, as Mel has? I, too, received tenure last year; I teach at a medium-sized, private university of the wannabe-Ivy variety. I think there is something about this stage of the career that encourages self-reflection. For the previous stages, we've been working toward a fixed, identifiable goal -- a job, and then tenure. And now the goals are less clear. We look around and we see colleagues who are burned-out, or completely detached (at least I see them), and we are wondering how to avoid that.

It is, in other words, a natural stage to take some self-help advice and sieze control of one's own professional "textuality." But I am also wondering about how one can encourage this -- and what it would mean -- as a graduate student. To this point, I have been deeply involved in helping graduate students craft their professional, textual identities when they go on the job market. (I worked as job placement officer for several years; and I've even had a few of my own students go on the market-- and even get jobs.) Now, I'm designing a new class for our first-year grad students on the profession in English. I'm asking how I can help them to craft their professional selves without dictating what the content of those selves will be. How do I say, Here are some ways to be professional without implicitly saying that MY ways of being professional are the best ones?