I just returned last night from a three day workshop at the lovely University of Richmond campus. This was a Junior Faculty workshop, sponsored by the American Musicological Society’s Popular Music Study Group (https://www.facebook.com/AMSpop), meant to give young(er) scholars / academics a chance to have their work read by a bunch of smart folks and allow for open, friendly conversations about publishing, getting a job, keeping the job, etc. I went ostensibly as a senior scholar, although (as I discussed in a previous blog post), between accepting the gig and traveling to Richmond, I quit my tenured position and set up shop as an Independent Scholar / Consultant. The short version of this wrap-up is this: we had a great time and did good work! (Heads-up world: we just unleashed some excellent scholarship about pop music!)
(one of many lovely spots on the UR campus)
But it was also frustrating for me to see how dispirited some of the younger scholars are. To be clear: I am sympathetic to the situations my younger colleagues face and understand their frustrations. But it seems that “frustration,” “exhaustion,” and “worry” are default settings for scholars, especially for those facing uncertain job futures. And there’s the ever-pervasive fear of failure: failure to land a tenure-track job, failure to get tenure, failure to get a peer-reviewed article out before finishing grad school, etc., ad infinitum. I had several opportunities to remind the group that we are people first, and scholars / academics second. But I want to say it again here. WE ARE PEOPLE FIRST. Scholarship / teaching is what we do; it’s not who we are. My hope for all of us is to find peace in who we are and what we do and to celebrate success in its many, varied forms. Senior scholars / mentors who are reading this: please begin a cycle of kindness and encourage your students / mentees to be kind to themselves.
If you attended the workshop, please leave me a comment! I’d love to hear about your take-aways.