|Click on the chart to enlarge.|
The above chart is from a "Report on the MLA Job Information List, 2011–12" (charting job ads from 2000-2012). For years now, I've had suspicions that the numbers of jobs in African American literature were declining, and the findings of the report suggest that they have. In 2000-2001, the job ads in African American literature constituted 12% of the ads, and in 2011-2012, the ads in the field constituted 6.3%. That's a considerable decline.
During the same time period, ads for composition and rhetoric moved 30.8% to 31.6%. British Literature and American literature ads moved from 30.8% and 27% in 2000-2001, respectively, to 30.8% and 25.1% in 2011-2012.
One notable growth area has been related to digital humanities. There was no record of jobs ads for technology and digital media on the ad list from 2000-2003. But by 2011-2012, job ads in that area had grown to 14.3%.
The decline in African American literature job ads deserves far more discussion than we've provided so far. That decline in job ads might tell us something about the state of the field and how universities are now viewing positions in African American literature. A look at the durability and increase of ads in other fields might also place us on firmer grounds when we provide advice to graduate students and junior faculty.
• Field of African American Literary Study