A viable option for the over-educated, under-employed, starving faculty-wannabe masses.
Anne Helen Petersen announced that she is leaving academia to join Buzzfeed.
Who is Anne Helen Petersen?
Someone who holds a Ph.D in 2011 from UT-Austin in Media Studies, and teaches Feminist Media Studies, among other things. Here’s her Whitman College faculty description:
Anne Helen Petersen received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she wrote her dissertation on the industrial history of celebrity gossip and spent a lot of time eating breakfast tacos. At Whitman, she teaches classes in television, stardom, feminist media studies, and theory. She has published articles in the Journal of Film and Video, Television & New Media, Feminist Media Studies, Celebrity Studies, and Film & History, authored several book chapters, and writes a regular column on classic Hollywood for The Hairpin. Her first book, Scandals of Classic Hollywood, is forthcoming from Plume/Penguin in 2014.
You may find her blog, “Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style,” at annehelenpetersen.com.
Why is Petersen joining Buzzfeed? Here’s a portion of an interview announcing the move (emphasis added):
I’ve known for some time that my work, and the sort of audience I love writing for, is not a very good fit for academia, but I thought that I could wedge/force/hipcheck my way into a position that would reconcile the type of work that I wanted to do with the teaching that I love. But as a friend of mine said amidst her time on the market, “academia is drunk”—not belligerent or irresponsible so much single-sightedly focused on things that may or may not ultimately matter.
In other words, no one wanted to hire me! I want to be super explicit about that because I think people will assume that because of all the writing I do, both on and off the internet, that I somehow had some cornucopia of choices and was like “show me the money.” OH MAN I WISH. I get so much satisfaction from teaching, but there was no way to keep doing so—and continue the writing I find fulfilling—and make a sustainable salary. BuzzFeed gives me the platform and support to do the type of writing (and reach the type of audiences) that I love, but can also provide me with a living wage….
Oh I was, but “fully funded” is a myth, especially at state schools, even “state Ivies” like the University of Texas. You have a salary, but that salary just about pays your rent, and then you get nickeled-and-dimed for all sorts of fees, insurance, buying food that’s not rice, and somehow surviving the summer, when you’re not getting paid but are expected to do scholarship and research. DON’T GO TO GRAD SCHOOL KIDS….
The system is broken. There’s no other way to put it. There are too many PhDs—which the schools need, because they’re such incredibly cheap labor—and very, very few jobs.
I don’t blame Petersen at all, or mock her, for joining Buzzfeed. She’s making a logical decision both financially and in terms of telling her message to more than a handful of people. And Buzzfeed likely is getting someone who will be a good fit.
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