English majors fare just fine on the job market, but in what jobs?

by David Alm October 14, 2014

A few days ago, a friend of mine with a tenure-track English professorship at a large southern university posted an article on Facebook that argued, basically, that humanities majors fare no worse in the job market than other majors. The data came from a study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, and covered […]

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To save the humanities, try a little tenderness

by David Alm December 4, 2013

Did you know that only 8 percent of undergraduates major in a humanities discipline like English or philosophy? Or how about the fact that more than half of college professors today are adjunct, or so-called “contingency” faculty? Or what about the hard, cold reality that people who study English or philosophy enter their working lives […]

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You don’t need to study the arts. Or do you?

by David Alm September 20, 2013

He was the last person you’d expect to say that people don’t need to study the humanities. He’s made an entire career out of them — as an educator, as an organizer of public programs, and as a widely published essayist and literary critic. But a little more than a week ago, over a couple […]

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What Is a Thesis? (a.k.a. La Thèse)

by David Alm March 3, 2013

Credit for this video goes to Brandon Hopkins, who teaches English at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. Hopkins, who conceived, wrote, and stars in this gem, graduated from the University of Chicago’s Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, where he wrote an award-winning thesis that contained both a claim AND substantial reasons for making […]

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Follow my lessons, not my footsteps

by David Alm November 2, 2011

Last week I received an email from a former student asking for a letter of recommendation for graduate school, and I had no problem saying yes. He had taken three courses with me in three years, and been one of the best students I’ve had in my eight years of teaching. He is a gifted […]

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“Feeling postcolonial?”

by Annie Murphy May 22, 2011

That’s how my professor of Postcolonial Studies began each class last fall. I’m not especially sure how we would feel postcolonial—in fact, a lot of people would say that a group of graduate students at an elite university couldn’t come close to feeling what it’s like be a citizen of a postcolonial nation. Yet I think […]

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If a tree falls in the forest …

by Annie Murphy May 6, 2011

I wrote something potentially (academically) dangerous earlier: “If a professor speaks and if nobody listens, did the professor speak?” I didn’t intend this as a condemnation of professors; quite the opposite, I hoped pull in the common adage, “If a tree falls in a forest …” to illustrate the disconnection between the so-called ivory tower […]

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Reaction to a reaction to a reaction

by Annie Murphy May 2, 2011

Although I generally do not like to hear pop stars’ opinions on politics, or politicians’ opinions about pop culture—the operative principle being, “if you don’t have anything informed to say, don’t say anything at all”—I’m going to stretch (and/or violate, depending on your perspective of my perspective) that norm. That is, as a student of […]

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An academic, a journalist, and a copywriter met on a sidewalk…

by David Alm April 12, 2011

Just about every time I have a conversation with anyone about his or her career, I get an earful of doubts, misgivings, annoyances, and, oftentimes, a nagging sense of futility about the entire enterprise. (And bear with me, the photo to your right will make sense soon enough.) Case in point: yesterday I ran into […]

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Toni Morrison’s $30,000 payday

by David Alm March 28, 2011

By now you’ve probably heard about Toni Morrison’s next big speaking engagement: the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The Nobel Laureate will receive $30,000 and an honorary doctorate for the speech, scheduled for May 15th th is year. Let me state upfront that I like Toni Morrison. I first read her as […]

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The digital quadrangle

by David Alm March 22, 2011

I recently designed a syllabus for a course at NYU on writing for digital media. Unlike most of my writing courses, which focus on journalism, this was meant to have broader appeal: marketing, advertising, blogging, and public relations were included in the weekly readings and assignments. And the university had a unique request: try to […]

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Why I love business news

by David Alm March 8, 2011

People are often surprised when I tell them that my favorite section of the New York Times, a newspaper that’s still delivered each morning to my front stoop, is business. Their surprise is reasonable enough: I have degrees in the humanities, not economics or finance, and I don’t make a lot of money, have no […]

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Can you teach thoughtful writing?

by David Alm February 14, 2011

I’ve been teaching writing for about eight years now. I’ve taught rhetoric, freshman composition, magazine writing, newspaper reporting, and cultural criticism. Here’s the thing: I’ve never taken a writing course, or at least not since high school, when I took only what was required to graduate. In college and grad school, I studied literature, art […]

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What good is studying the humanities?

by David Alm February 11, 2011

My first post for this blog was inspired by New York State officials reporting that less than half of the state’s high school students are graduating prepared for success in college or well-paid careers. I wrote about how this might impact the humanities as a field of study, if kids are taught throughout school to […]

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If kids aren’t ready for college, what hope for humanities?

by David Alm February 9, 2011

The future of education just got a little bleaker: New York State officials released data this week indicating that more than half of all the high school students in the state are not ready for college or well-paid careers. While it’s long been understood that education and income do not always keep lockstep — in […]

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