Quick takes: Classics is better than other humanities disciplines!

But you all know that, right?

Today’s news comes from a report on jobs in humanities disciplines over the past 10 years or so. Although most disciplines have seen a sharp drop in hiring, classicists are doing better than most. (I guess I’m not lying when I tell my colleagues that the market looks about the same to me as it always did…)

Still, a few caveats before you decide that the ivory tower is the only life for you:

  1. Percentage change in jobs in classics is lower than in other disciplines. There are still a lot fewer jobs. There are also a lot fewer classicists, but this study made no attempt to map number of PhDs to number of jobs. A lot of people are still disappointed every year.
  2. Similarly, this particular study just looked at job ads — they did not look at whether the jobs were tenure-track or visiting (or even one of the few senior positions that come out yearly). Short-term positions need to be advertised more frequently, so it’s possible to interpret the same data as “Classics just went contingent before these other disciplines”. (This AAA&S report suggests that the majority of classics faculty are on the tenure track, but also seems to be more interested in adjunct than visiting positions.)
  3. Finally, although it’s hard to tell from the graph, jobs are still down by almost 15% since the 2002-3 academic year. That’s better than the 30% average for other disciplines, but it’s also nothing to sneeze at — especially since new PhD programs have also started over the past decade.

Bottom line? There’s a lot more research needed. But points #2 and #3 are also true of the other disciplines studied. So I’m sticking with the idea that we’re doing better.



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