SPP 002 | Stabbing Your Academic Career in the Heart and Becoming a Professional Writer, with Rebecca Schuman from Slate.com

This week’s guest has a great story for all of us to hear. Rebecca Schuman is a Ph.D. In German literature who is a post-academic hellraiser, truth-teller, and all-purpose blabbermouth. She has transitioned to a full-time writing career and here to share why she left the academic world, how she transitioned to her current job, and advice to those who are considering something similar.

I first came across Rebecca on Slate.com where she is the education columnist. In 2013 she wrote a famous – and some consider infamous – article “Thesis Hatement: Getting a literature Ph.D. Will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor.” She went into very specific detail why the doctoral system is broken and the job market is dead.

Rebecca said this article was her version of take a needle and stabbing the corpse of her academic career in the heart. But many academics have come to her and confided that it is as bad as she says, but they are too afraid to say anything for fear that their own career will be destroyed.

In this episode, you’ll hear

  • Rebecca’s journey from German scholar to adjunct to professional writer
  • Why she inspires so much anger from traditional academics and the real place that that anger comes from
  • How she managed to transition out of the academic world with an Evel Kanevel-level of daring
  • What she would recommend to anyone considering following the path that she went down

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Thesis Hatement: Getting a literature Ph.D. Will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor 

Rebecca’s blog Pan Kisses Kafka

Rebecca’s essay on the brokenness of the peer-review process “Revise and Resubmit.” 

Rebecca’s academic text Kafka and Wittgenstein: The Case for Analytic Modernism:

Mr. Show: “Kiss the pan… Pan kisses you!”