William Pannapacker

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William Pannapacker
Born 1968
Camden, New Jersey
Nationality American
Alma mater Ph.D., History of American Civilization, Harvard University, 1999; A.M in English and American Literature at Harvard University, 1995; M.A. in English at University of Miami, 1993; a B.A. in English at Saint Joseph’s University (1990)
Occupation Professor of English literature, academic administrator, higher education journalist
Employer Hope College
Organization Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Awards Bowdoin Prize, Whiting Foundation Fellow (1998–99)

William Pannapacker (born 1968, Camden, New Jersey) is an American professor of English literature, an academic administrator, and a higher education journalist.[1] He is the author of Revised Lives: Walt Whitman and Nineteenth-Century Authorship, and numerous articles on American literature and culture, higher education, and the Digital Humanities. He has been a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education since 1998, and he is a contributor to The New York Times and Slate Magazine. He is the Director of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.[2] According to Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, "in the world of education journalism, there are few opinion voices as potent as that of William Pannapacker."[3]

Biography[edit]

He earned a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 1999, following an A.M in English and American Literature at Harvard University in 1995, an M.A. in English at University of Miami in 1993, and a B.A. in English at Saint Joseph’s University (1990). His doctoral dissertation was on poet Walt Whitman, and his scholarly emphasis is 19th-century American literature and culture. Pannapacker is one of six scholars (including Ralph Waldo Emerson) to have won the Bowdoin Prize, an award only open to Harvard students, twice (1994, 1999); he is also a three-time winner of the Helen Choate Bell Prize for best American Literature essay written by a Harvard student. He was a lecturer in Harvard's History and Literature honors concentration (1995-2000) and a Whiting Foundation Fellow (1998–99).[4] Pannapacker is the author of Revised Lives: Walt Whitman and Nineteenth-Century Authorship (Routledge, 2004), and he delivered the David H. Hirsch Memorial Lecture at Brown University in 2005.[5] Since 2000, Pannapacker has taught at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan. In 2009 he became the founding director of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities, an undergraduate honors concentration that integrates the arts and humanities with collaborative research in digital technologies.[6]

Pannapacker has written a series of advice columns for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Pannapacker covers what he describes as serious problems with graduate education in the humanities. The first such column ("So You Want to Go to Grad School?", in 2003) Pannapacker noted that according to the Modern Language Association, about 20% of English graduate students are appointed to a tenure track position.[7]

In subsequent columns, Pannapacker has argued that due to the limited number of professorial jobs and the lack of transparency about academic hiring procedures, grad school for humanities students is sometimes "a trap" that convinces students that working outside academia is unacceptable while simultaneously offering only part-time and adjunct professorships typically earning lower wages than university support staff like janitors and secretaries.[8] Colleges and universities, he asserts, mislead students with the implicit promise of a career when there are few possibilities for full-time employment in the humanities academy. The Chronicle was flooded with responses both pro and con, from professors, administrators and students.[9]

William Deresiewicz, formerly an English professor at Yale University, agrees that Pannapacker raises many valid points that would-be grad students must seriously consider:

"At Yale, we were overjoyed if half our graduating students found positions. That’s right—half. Imagine running a medical school on that basis."[10]

In 2013, partly in response to Pannapacker's call for more transparency about the career paths of doctoral graduates, "Just Look at the Data",[11] The Chronicle launched "The Ph.D. Placement Project" to help prospective students and advisors make more informed decisions about individual degree programs.[12]

Since 2008 some of Pannapacker's contributions to The Chronicle of Higher Education concern Digital Humanities, a scholarly field that integrates computing with traditional academic research. Geoffrey Rockwell, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, credits those writings, particularly Pannapacker's coverage of the annual conventions of the Modern Language Association, with helping to move the Digital Humanities "from a marginal field trying to gain respect to a favorite of many university administrators."[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "English Department Faculty, William Pannapacker". Hope College. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  2. ^ "Mellon Scholars Program". Hope College. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  3. ^ Walsh, Bari (2011). "A Conversation with William Pannapacker," Colloquy, Spring 2011, accessed 5 September 2012
  4. ^ "William Pannapacker". Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  5. ^ "Events Prior to 2007". English Department. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  6. ^ William Pannapacker, from Hope College English Department.
  7. ^ Benton, Thomas H. (2003) "So You Want to Go to Grad School?", The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 June 2003, accessed 29 August 2012
  8. ^ Pannapacker, William. "The Big Lie About the 'Life of the Mind'." The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2010, accessed 22 June 2012.
  9. ^ Letters About 'Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go', The Chronicle of Higher Education 08 Feb 2010, accessed 11 July 2012.
  10. ^ Deresiewicz, William (2011). "Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education" The Nation, 4 May 2011, accessed 10 July 2012.
  11. ^ Pannapacker, William (2013-06-17). "Just Look at the Data, if You Can Find Any - Manage Your Career". Chroncle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  12. ^ Holdaway, Xarissa (2013-06-18). "The Ph.D. Placement Project". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  13. ^ Rockwell, Geoffrey (2012). "The Swallow Flies Swiftly Through: An Analysis of Humanist" "Digital Humanities", accessed 2 September 2012.