University of Michigan English graduate student Brian Matzke weighs in on all those articles about whether you should go to graduate school in the humanities. Brian says:
Taking a broad view, I’m frustrated with the academy for not doing more to adapt to the technological and economic changes that led to this situation. Had the field adapted, it might’ve better demonstrated its worth and there would be more jobs out there. But more immediately, I’m frustrated with the academy for perpetuating an outdated sort of tenure-track fetishism that places blinders on its students at a time when they most need a full range of vision.
This, I think, should resonate with MFAs who felt the myth of “a tenure-track job in creative writing in every pot” permeating classrooms. What should the academy be doing more of–what could your program or graduate school do–to encourage students in the arts and humanities to look beyond the tenure-track path? Or is the full responsibility on us?
Sarah Scoles is an Associate Editor at Astronomy magazine. She earned an M.F.A. from Cornell University.
Why did you decide to pursue an MFA?
I took a Creative Writing course as an elective at the end of my junior year of college. In the Fall, I expected to be applying to Ph.D. programs in Astronomy, as that’s what I was actually studying. But when I took a second Writing class during the first semester of my senior year, I thought that perhaps I loved writing too much to spend six years in graduate school for something else right away. I didn’t know anything about MFA programs (I didn’t even know what the letters stood for, so immersed was I in the science world, until that year), but I knew I wanted to do more writing, I knew I wanted to become a better writer, and I was fairly certain I wasn’t qualified for any jobs.
When you started the degree, what were you leaving behind?
Well, I had wanted to be a research astronomer since I was about four years old, and all of my plans for my future centered on that goal. So I was essentially leaving behind the whole life-path I’d planned to trek down.
Hello, world of MFAs and those who love/ worry about them. Our first interview, with fiction writer/ science editor Sarah Scoles is coming up next week! Until then, “like” the brand new facebook page. And contact me using the form below if you’re a writer with an MFA and a job outside academia who would like to be interviewed.