digital humanities

Thumb 01072014 mlawatch

4 Scholars to Watch at MLA 2014

There are all sorts of fabulously smart people presenting at the MLA. But here are a few academics—and some Twitter accounts—we have our eyes on.

The Limits of Alt-Ac

A lot of Miriam Posner's students are excited to pursue alt-ac careers, and she thinks that's just great: Alternative paths come with plenty of rewards, as she can attest. "But a solution to the academic jobs crisis? I’m afraid we need to look elsewhere for that." A clear-headed essay, adapted from remarks at the 2013 American Studies Association conference. (Mirian Posner)

History's Slowest, Steadiest Embargo

Well, here's something fun. The American Historical Association now recommends that grad students keep their dissertations under digital embargo for six years—so as not to wreck their odds of scoring a publishing deal. Mark Sample, open-source advocate, has misgivings about that, so he invented a compromise: He's releasing a single character from his manuscript, every 10 minutes, on a new site. The title ("Radicalizing Consumption in the Fiction of Don DeLillo and Toni Morrison") took 12 hours to materialize. The full dissertation will appear in—yep, you guessed it—six years. (Disembargo)

'Dear MOOC Messiah Squad: You Are Expendable.'

"MOOCs are a jobs program for a whole bunch of people who are technologically inclined," writes Jonathan Rees. But are they a good jobs program? That's less clear. As Rees points out, many of the folks who tend to be most excited about MOOCs—instructional designers and IT specialists, for example—ain't getting tenure any time soon. "Yet ironically, once any particular MOOC has been perfected ... it is these jobs that will be the most unnecessary." (More or Less Bunk)