Working-Class Women at the MLA Interview

Lynn Arner

Blindness to social inequalities both obliges and allows one to explain all inequalities, particularly those in educational achievement, as natural inequalities, unequal giftedness.
—Pierre Bourdieu & Jean-Claude Passeron [1]

[1] What can be determined about a job candidate in a thirty-minute interview? In this brief time, a hiring committee may glean considerable information about an applicant, but much of this information is not what committee members may think they are learning. As Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron explain, when using an examination to tabulate knowledge at a given moment, one is cutting, at a determinate point, through all the different trajectories along which students have come to where they are; every piece of knowledge must be viewed both as an element in a constellation and as a moment in a student's cultural itinerary as a whole, with each point on the curve encapsulating the entire curve. [2] Interviews conducted at the convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA) crystallize one such cross-section of the different trajectories along which recent recipients of PhDs in English have traveled. These interviews display a constellation of a candidate's attributes—surrounding performance, erudition, rhetorical prowess, cultural authority, and bodily presence—that reflect a cultural mapping, not a typography that charts the candidate's history of talent and merit but a mapping that demonstrates the mediated effects of gender and socioeconomic class. Focusing on interviews for tenure-track positions in American English departments that expect research, this article investigates the ways in which female scholars from working-class backgrounds are positioned differently at MLA interviews than their male counterparts and than middle-class competitors of both genders. [3] The mediated effects of the intersection of gender and class at these interviews disadvantage working-class women in relation to these other groups.

[2] Every January, the MLA holds a four-day convention at a large city in the United States (or, rarely, Canada). Apart from on-campus interviews, this convention is the exclusive venue for in-person interviews for tenure-track posts in English departments at American universities. Departmental hiring committees, usually comprised of two to eight tenured and tenure-track faculty members, interview candidates in conference hotel rooms. For each post, committees typically interview five to fifteen candidates, from thirty minutes to one hour. Thereafter, a department conventionally invites between two and four candidates to interview on campus. Although job candidates are generally responsible for their own expenses for the MLA convention, [4] hiring institutions routinely pay expenses associated with the on-campus interviews. Most American English departments employ the MLA convention as the crucial mechanism for narrowing their lists of semi-finalists to finalists. Hence, MLA interviews are of monumental importance in the careers of English literary scholars who teach in the U.S.

[3] If they give the matter any thought, English scholars typically conceptualize class differences at MLA interviews in terms of candidates' abilities to afford the expenses associated with convention travel and with the purchase of appropriate attire. Indeed, these expenses are not trivial, since most new English PhD holders are now on the market for multiple years, which can cost a few thousand dollars annually. Standard expenses include MLA membership dues, conference registration fees, flights, and hotel bills. Although difficult for most working-class women at the end of their PhD studies to pay for MLA expenses, skimping can disadvantage a candidate. [5] Conference hotels are expensive, but booking cheaper hotels can generate negative consequences: staying farther from the conference center can mean longer commutes to interviews, potentially generating more stress and earlier waking times and hence less sleep, with the likelihood of sleep deprivation increasing because cheap hotels are often noisy. An inexpensive flight usually increases the number of flight connections and hence the probability both of lost luggage and of fatigue and stress from excessive travel. Candidates also pay sizeable expenses associated with physical appearance: the costs of an interview suit, a professional-looking haircut and possibly color, and an appropriate briefcase or purse. Cutting corners in such categories can make an interviewee appear "unprofessional." Hence, regarding the ability to cover the costs of interviewing, and because of the potentially negative consequences of skimping, working-class women enter the competition disadvantaged.

[4] While there is an all-too-common illusion that if candidates can afford such expenses then class differences among job contenders are largely mitigated, such expenses constitute only the most superficial socioeconomic differences structuring candidates' performances and interviewers' perceptions. Although scholars of English literature have produced sophisticated discussions of how gender and race structure MLA interviews and hiring patterns, [6] considerations of class in relation to these topics are extraordinarily rare in the field. This general disregard of the ways in which class inflects interviews and hiring patterns in English departments is encapsulated by the absence of questions about socioeconomic class in the demographic information sometimes culled in surveys from hiring institutions. These surveys solicit self-identifications from applicants regarding gender and race, often ethnicity, and occasionally sexuality. Some non-identity based questions also frequently appear on these surveys, especially a question about whether the candidate is forty or older and an inquiry about veteran or disability status. These surveys demonstrate a staggering indifference to class, since questions that represent, as a primary goal, attempts to elicit information about a candidate's socioeconomic position are glaringly absent (such as questions about parental educational levels or occupations or about whether the candidate is a first-generation college student), even though, as Kenneth Oldfield and Richard F. Conant demonstrate, such questions are easy to incorporate. [7] Although overdetermined, part of this obliviousness is because, in the discipline, "working class" and "middle class" are not considered identities in the same ways as ethnicity, race, and even sexuality are when discussing job applicants. (For example, applicants are frequently conceptualized as Latino or African-American and occasionally as gay but rarely as working class or middle class.) An obliviousness to class with respect to MLA interviews also results from commonplace, impoverished understandings of class that foreground economic class rather than social class, although disparities in the latter are more insidious in these interviews.

[5] The obliviousness to class in relation to the MLA interview also results from a pervasive invisibility of class among the English professoriate. Most English scholars do not give serious thought to the ways in which class structures educational trajectories and academic careers, as evidenced by the paucity of studies on this topic in the field. [8] This illegibility is overdetermined. In part, this illegibility is because, unlike gender and race, class is not widely recognized as a category of disadvantage in the English professoriate, as the hiring surveys attest. Many middle- and upper-class practitioners possess an impoverished awareness of socioeconomic disadvantages in academe because such disadvantages do not affect them personally. With education and the progression through professorial ranks structured by an insistence on meritocracy, many middle- and upper-class scholars may not wish to consider the ways in which their achievements are facilitated by class privilege and may instead disavow the effects of class on educational histories and academic careers. Not surprisingly, despite the sizeable presence of the working classes among the professoriate, these demographics are typically invisible: there is a common assumption that everyone in the professoriate is middle class. [9] Among English scholars, some awareness about socioeconomic differences regarding undergraduate students is not rare, but recognition of socioeconomic differences generally diminishes surrounding higher stages in education, as if education is thoroughly successful in its imagined role as a class leveler and as if the receipt of a PhD or of a sizeable paycheck confers middle classness. It is as if PhD recipients from working-class families can no longer be associated with these classes because they have been exposed to too many cultural riches. If all scholars are understood to be middle class, then discussions of class privilege in the English professoriate are rendered inarticulable.

[6] What proportion of the American professoriate is working class? A few scholars in other disciplines have documented class-based demographic patterns in the American professoriate. In an oft-cited analysis of both the survey data collected from faculty members by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education in 1969 and the data collected in their own survey in 1975, Seymour Martin Lipset and Everett C. Ladd, Jr. estimated that approximately one-quarter of faculty members across the disciplines at American universities and colleges are from working-class backgrounds. Such backgrounds are considerably more common among older faculty members, which Lipset and Ladd interpret as an indication of academe drawing increasingly from more privileged sectors, in a move that runs counter to the documented expansion of post-secondary education among poorer sectors of American society. Lipset and Ladd found that female faculty as a pool of laborers derive from somewhat higher socioeconomic backgrounds than their male counterparts: for example, in the 1975 survey, only 21% of female faculty were the children of blue-collar workers, compared to 27% of the men. Lipset and Ladd explain that this gendered pattern is not new but that previous surveys of graduate students, and of students planning to pursue graduate studies, indicate that the class backgrounds of the women are generally higher than that of the men, as measured by paternal educational level, occupation, or income. [10] Analyzing data from a survey conducted by the Society for American Archeologists of its members, Melinda A. Zeder detected similar patterns: the majority of subjects reported being from the middle classes (54% of the women, 56% of the men); more women (27%) than men (20%) reported coming from the upper classes; and more men (24%) than women (19%) reported coming from the lower classes. Zeder reports that longitudinally (i.e., among faculty members born after 1954) archaeologists have generally come from increasingly higher socioeconomic backgrounds. [11] Dorothy E. Finnegan found that in her samples of tenure-track and tenured professors at comprehensive universities, the fathers of female faculty members were from "a higher social-class standing" than those of male faculty members; also, the women were more likely to come from multigenerational academic families. [12] According to the federal National Science Foundation's 2012 Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), advanced degrees were held by 39.5% of the fathers and 29.4% of the mothers of new PhD recipients who were either American citizens or permanent residents. Irrespective of nationality, recipients of American PhDs in the Humanities had the highest proportion of parents, of both sexes, with advanced degrees: 43.4% of the fathers and 30.5% of the mothers possessed such credentials, while 21.8% of the fathers and 26.7% of the mothers of PhD recipients in the Humanities possessed only high school educations or less. [13] These statistics confirm Lipset and Ladd's understanding that academics are the offspring of a disproportionately well-educated group of parents compared to the general population. [14] These statistics also indicate that not only are the middle classes (and higher) strongly represented among PhD recipients but that the Humanities produced an unusually high concentration of professors from such households compared to any other academic division.

[7] Just as class is a large determinant of who is able to join the ranks of the professoriate, class is a large determinant of how one joins these ranks. Ladd and Lipset determined that class background has a bearing not only on who becomes a professor but, even more strongly, on where one teaches. Prestigious, research-oriented universities draw their professors disproportionately from the middle and upper classes. Faculty offspring do the best of all: they are the most likely to be found in the most honored institutions. Trailing them are the middle-class progeny of big business and professional families. Conversely, academics from the working classes and from farm backgrounds are most commonly relegated to the lower-status colleges. Not surprisingly, Lipset and Ladd found that the more years of schooling that faculty members' parents possess, the higher the status of the institutions where their offspring teach. Moreover, the higher the family status, the lower the professors' teaching loads and the more likely they are to receive research grants and to publish, a pattern across different ages and disciplines. [15] Diana Crane's study of professors revealed that lower-class respondents in her faculty sample were less likely than middle-class respondents to hold positions in top-ranking universities and more likely to hold posts in the universities of the lowest rank. [16] In short, multiple studies outside the discipline of English confirm the correlation between familial socioeconomic background and the prestige of the university in which a faculty member teaches. [17]

[8] What is it about the middle- and upper-class holders of newly minted PhDs that tracks them into the most prestigious posts at universities, while their working-class counterparts are disproportionately funneled into less celebrated schools with heavier teaching loads and fewer research opportunities? A monumental determinant of what jobs which candidates will be offered is pedigree. As Finnegan explains in her study of segmentation in the American academic labor market, "For graduate students who aspire to top-tiered positions, securing entry into the professorial system means relying on sources of prestige external to themselves; the prestige of their institutions, graduate departments, and mentors plays a combined ascriptive role in securing the first academic position." [18] In other words, select job candidates garner coveted posts not so much through individual merit as through the prestige of their associations. Numerous other studies of hiring patterns in American academe draw similar conclusions. In their research on biochemists in the professoriate, Robert McGinnis and J. Scott Long conclude that the prestige of a new PhD holder's past institutional affiliations, whether in a PhD program or postdoctoral fellowship, has the strongest effect on the prestige of the first job, more than the student's demonstrated productivity. [19] In his study of archeology professors, Michael J. Shott found that pedigree matters more than scholarship in career prospects and in the determination of institutional affiliation, with only the highly pedigreed—especially those trained in private schools—enjoying high professional affiliation. [20] In 2005, Economics professor Stephen Wu analyzed degree patterns for over 5,000 American faculty members in six fields, including English. Wu discovered that in English departments at the top twenty-five research institutions, 57.1% of the tenured and tenure-track faculty came from the top ten schools, while 70.2% came from the top twenty schools. At the top twenty-five liberal arts colleges, 53.2% of English faculty members held PhDs from the top ten schools, while 67.6% held PhDs from the top twenty schools. Wu's study demonstrates that graduates of the top-rated PhD programs in English hold an overwhelming share of tenured and tenure-track faculty posts in English at the most lauded American universities and colleges. [21]

[9] Even beyond the most desirable jobs, a top-tier degree greatly increases a PhD holder's chances of acquiring full-time academic jobs more generally. Explicitly expanding on Wu’s study, historian Robert B. Townsend points out that although in 2004 the top twenty programs in English conferred less than 20% of the PhDs in the field, the top ten English programs placed three times their share of the overall total number of PhDs conferred, while the top twenty placed over twice their proportion of the PhDs conferred. Regarding History, Townsend explains that not only among top-ranked universities and liberal arts colleges but even in History programs that do not confer doctorates, degrees from the top twenty programs dominate among the faculty. Tellingly, regarding part-time History faculty, at the top-tier universities, the proportion of faculty with degrees from schools outside the top tier is much greater. In History departments without PhD programs, which employ the majority of part-time faculty, most part-time faculty have PhDs from outside the top twenty programs. [22]

[10] Who attends top-tier schools? Predictably, in the U.S., students from affluent backgrounds are disproportionately overrepresented in the most lauded post-secondary institutions. In Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education, Ann L. Mullen explains that social background has become a less important indicator of college attendance than for the type of college or university a student attends and that the composition of student bodies at elite universities is heavily skewed towards the higher classes. In the year 2000, students from families in the bottom 50% of the income distribution comprised just 10% of new undergraduate students at Princeton and 12% at Harvard, while similar patterns exist at top-tier public institutions. [23] In their oft-cited study, Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose point out that 74% of students at the top 146 highly selective colleges come from families in the top quarter of the socioeconomic status scale (measured by combining family income and the education and occupations of parents), while roughly 10% come from the bottom half. [24] According to Mullen, longitudinal trends indicate that rather than working-class students making inroads into highly regarded schools, the effects of class on college destination have been intensifying: between 1980 and 1992, the relative effects of family background (especially paternal education and parental income) on the exclusiveness of the institutions attended by their children approximately doubled. Students from the bottom strata comprise the majority of the student body at the less-than-four-year institutions. Overall, American colleges and universities at the top of the hierarchy graduate children of privilege, both by class and by race, while the institutions at the bottom educate disproportionately students of color and of less advantaged social origins. [25] This stratification system in American academe, Zelda F. Gamson explains, is now stronger than ever, mirroring the growing income inequality in America as a whole. [26] Regarding graduate schools, Carnevale and Rose note that a clear benefit of top-tier colleges is that they provide greater access to graduate studies. [27] Accordingly, in his study of trends in the undergraduate origins of History PhDs, Townsend argues that information in the SED from 1966 to 2002 and in a database of 11,562 History PhDs from 1990 to 2004 suggests that the doors to graduate study in elite private universities are largely closed to students who received their previous degrees in public colleges and universities, with the exception of a few with top-tier public PhD programs. [28]

[11] Despite the tremendous odds stacked against them, working-class students occasionally do manage to obtain PhDs from the most prestigious research universities. However, as Crane explains, even when working-class students do obtain such doctorates, these PhD holders are less likely than their middle-class colleagues to acquire tenure-track positions in major universities. [29] Although he does not link class as strongly to his findings as Crane, Townsend argues that, among holders of PhDs in History, receiving an undergraduate degree from an elite school appears to be an important marker of future success in the academic job market. [30] Townsend argues that, among those who received PhDs in History between 1990 and 2004, the institution that conferred the PhD made a critical difference in job placement but that the place where one obtained an undergraduate degree was also important in job placement [31], a finding confirmed by Shott. [32]

[12] Fortunately, unlike socioeconomic class, gendered patterns surrounding hiring and employment have received considerable attention from English literary scholars. The MLA's interest in the topic attests to this visibility. [33] Since gendered inequities in academic employment are much better known among English scholars than class-based inequities, it is necessary only to quickly outline some key points. The National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that in 2011 in the total pool of faculty at degree-granting post-secondary institutions, men outnumbered women in full-time academic posts in the U.S. (426,982 vs. 334,637), while women outnumbered men in part-time posts (399,781 vs. 362,215). At the more prestigious types of institutions (i.e., both at both public and private universities that grant BAs and graduate degrees), men constituted the majority of full-time faculty members, while at the less prestigious types of institutions (namely, at two-year colleges), women were the majority of full-time faculty. [34] Although these statistics do not distinguish between positions inside and outside the tenure system nor among different ranks, the American Association of University Professors has publicized the dramatic gendered disparities in rank at American colleges and universities. In 2011-2012, of the combined overall total faculty at doctoral institutions, a much larger percentage of men than women were full professors (27% vs. 8.1%); a considerably higher percentage of men than women were associate professors (16.1% vs. 10.6%); and slightly more men than women were assistant professors (12% vs. 10.6%). Instititutions whose highest degrees are Master's-level also had gendered disparities: at the full professor ranks, 18.9% of the faculty were male, and 9.3% were female; at the associate level, 15.6% were male, while 12.6% were female; but at the assistant level, there were fewer male professors (13.2%) than female (15%). By contrast, two-year colleges were the sole institutional category in which men did not dominate: 14.5% of the full professors were male, while 14.1% were female; 11.6% of the associate professors were male compared to 13.2% who were female; and 11.4% of the assistant professors were male versus 14.4% who were female. [35] Regarding English specifically, the MLA's "Women in the Profession, 2000" indicates that, according to a 1995 study by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the largest group of white male faculty members were full professors; the largest group of men of color were associate professors; the largest group of women of color were assistant professors; and the largest group of white women were instructors, adjuncts, or of comparable rank. [36] Gendered disparities in the number of degrees conferred do not account for these employment inequities, since according to the NCES, women have consistently been earning more PhDs in English than men since 1980-1981. [37]

[13] Such statistics indicate that in contemporary American academe, women as a body of laborers are less able to garner as many rewards as men as a body of laborers for comparable credentials. First, given the larger number of women than men from the upper classes in the professoriate overall and, second, given the fewer number of women than men from the working classes, the gendered distribution in the professorial ranks indicates that women as a group are less likely than men from comparable socioeconomic backgrounds to gain equivalent positions in academe. Relatively privileged women are less able than their male counterparts to garner the same level of benefit as men accorded to their class positions. At the other end of the spectrum, working-class women as a pool of laborers generally pay a harsher toll than their male colleagues for being from the working classes: men from the working classes are less likely than their female counterparts to end up in the lowest status schools, in temporary posts, or to be pushed out of academe altogether. For working-class men, gender can sometimes mitigate some of the harsh effects of class in academic employment patterns.

[14] English scholars have not expended great effort to examine the intersections of class and gender in the professoriate, as the dearth of studies on the topic attest. A striking example of the field's failure to think gender through class in the professoriate appears in "Women in the Profession, 2000." Among the youngest cohort of white women in English, the MLA Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession noted an "overproportional variability in career outcomes ... some are very successful, but a disproportionately large number remain at the bottom of the rank hierarchy. Does this variability," the study asks, "indicate an emerging trend of differentiation within the group of white women?" [38] The report fails to consider how these dramatic disparities might be tied to socioeconomic differences. Even beyond English studies, it is uncommon to scrutinize intersections between gender and class in the professoriate, with very few exceptions. [39]

[15] Given the general lack of insightfulness regarding socioeconomic class—especially in relation to gender—in hiring and employment in the discipline of English, it is not surprising that the ways in which class and gender play out at MLA interviews has not been of great concern in the profession. These interviews represent an important sorting mechanism, a venue through which recent PhD recipients are generally tracked into the types of academic posts considered best suited to their class and gender. Rather than being golden opportunities for talented candidates, MLA interviews typically produce outcomes in keeping with candidates' previously established educational trajectories and continue these trajectories, which are, in turn, structured by gender and socioeconomic position. Of course, these interviews are not usually experienced, either by most candidates or by most members of a hiring committee, as a heavily mystified form of tracking. There is a general perception that the MLA interviews offer all candidates a reasonable chance of winning invitations to interview on campus, that invitations are distributed by enlightened adjudicators in accordance with candidates' performances. How then do logics of gender and especially class work themselves out at the interview in ways that typically end up confirming class-based, gendered positions? The rest of this article examines some of the specific ways in which class and gender intersect at these interviews to disadvantage working-class women compared to their male counterparts and compared to middle-class scholars of both genders, disproportionately funneling working-class women into lightly regarded schools or out of the competition for tenure-track posts entirely, creating the patterns in the professoriate outlined in this article to this point. With the near invisibility of class among the English professoriate and the enormous disavowal facilitated by this obfuscation, class-based and gender markers are typically dramatically misread by committee members at the MLA interviews and interpreted as indices of other characteristics, a misrecognition that usually disadvantages working-class women as serious job contenders.

[16] As explained earlier, graduate students who aspire to top-tier positions in the professoriate must rely on sources of prestige external to them (such as prestigious institutions, graduate departments, and mentors), and academic pedigree is probably the most important determinant of the types of institution at which new PhD holders garner jobs. Academic pedigree is also an important determinant of the type of employment candidates acquire, whether tenure-track or contingent full- or part-time work. Although hiring committees rarely explicitly announce that they want only candidates from the top ten or twenty programs to teach at their well-regarded (or even middle-ranked) schools, such placement is the usual outcome, as the demographic patterns discussed earlier attest. John Guillory argues that as university degrees became more desirable among the American populace over the last several decades, the educational system responded, in part, by intensifying competition for resources and prestige, the result of which is the highly stratified post-secondary educational system. In English, Guillory continues, the disparity between the number of PhDs and the number of jobs fostered a motor of intense competition among schools, and hence the status hierarchy of graduate schools has assumed an increased importance as a mechanism for the selection of job candidates. Candidates confront a highly stratified system in which acts of judgment are mechanically linked to the status hierarchy as either positive or negative prejudgments about the value of particular credentials. [40] The competition over prestige encourages hiring committees to seek out candidates with impressive pedigree, as if hiring the bearers of PhDs from lauded schools brings prestige to the hiring English departments at a time when access to capital is limited and when cultural capital is often a substitute currency. As Shott argues, to some degree, academic departments stake their reputations and self-images on the hiring process and tend to gauge their current standing by the prior institutional affiliations of their new hires. [41] As Gamson points out, "Prestige is a resource that enables universities to garner more tangible resources... The greater the prestige generated by the institution, the more advantages it has in the competition for research funds, graduate students, and undergraduate enrollments." [42] Furthermore, in an era of small budgets for the Humanities where prestige has become increasingly important, departments often try to hire students of celebrated scholars (who almost invariably teach at prestigious institutions), as if thereby acquiring proxies for these scholars: for example, it is as if one can hire a piece of Judith Butler by hiring her PhD students. These protégés are also understood to facilitate connections—symbolic, imagined, and actual—between the hiring department, on the one hand, and the candidate's PhD institution and celebrated mentors, on the other. Those lacking impressive pedigree may be understood to be not well connected and unable to bring social or cultural capital to a hiring department.

[17] Before job candidates enter MLA hotel rooms, well-placed recommenders typically assist job candidates, for example, through letters that get noticed in dossiers and in competitions for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships and through phone calls to recommenders' well-placed friends at comparable universities. Revered institutions assist job candidates prior to interviews in various ways: for example, editors are more likely to notice article submissions accompanied by stationery from prestigious universities than from less celebrated institutions; and compared to underfunded institutions, wealthy institutions can afford to dispense more awards to their PhD students, thereby decorating their overall pool of PhD students more heavily and making them appear worthier than their competitors. Even more foundational in the success of PhD candidates from esteemed universities is the myth of meritocracy. Academe is structured by the belief that the most talented, smartest students attend the best schools. Even though most academics realize at some level that academe is an uneven playing ground, it is difficult to fully exorcise one's investments in an idea of meritocracy, and it is even more difficult for academicians to fully appreciate the myriad ways in which academe is inequitable, with class-based advantages and disadvantages particularly obscured. Hence, those with degrees from the most lauded universities routinely benefit from an understanding that they are the most talented, brightest new scholars, while job candidates with degrees from lesser universities are typically under suspicion of lacking significant talent or promise. Furthermore, given the limited numbers of permanent positions in an era of diminishing tenure-track lines, hiring committees may feel pressure to avoid risks in their choice of candidates and may revert to candidates with degrees from the most esteemed schools, with such a degree offering an automatic stamp of approval, as if a top program can guarantee the quality of all its products. All these factors generally over-advantage new PhD holders from the middle and upper classes at the expense of their working-class counterparts. Although some working-class women do manage to find their way into highly revered schools, most working-class women in PhD programs are disproportionately funneled into lightly regarded schools and hence are disadvantaged because of the rewards that prestige and pedigree offer. Of course, not all schools seek to hire candidates from the top ten or twenty programs. Hiring committees from low-ranking schools with heavy teaching loads sometimes suspect that applicants from revered schools would not remain long in posts that lack cachet. This logic facilitates the hiring of interviewees from less prestigious PhD programs into these schools, helping to produce the result that job candidates are tracked across the spectrum of jobs according to their pedigree and usually according to their socioeconomic positions.

[18] Like the insistence on meritocracy, academe's investment in precocity typically rewards more affluent holders of PhDs while disadvantaging their working-class competitors. As Bourdieu and Passeron explain, the educational system sets a preeminent value on precocity; academe is invested in "the child prodigy, the brevity of whose path through school testifies to the extent of his gift." Consequently, the younger the scholar at the age of graduation, the more talented that scholar is proclaimed to be. An educational system constructs a timeline for "scholastic age," namely, the age a student is expected to be at a certain stage in an educational trajectory. Working-class students are the most likely to deviate from the scholastic age. Bourdieu and Passeron explain that for students from the lower classes who manage to survive elimination, their disadvantages accrue: their social past transforms into an educational handicap through relay mechanisms, including early, often ill-formed decisions, forced choices, or lost time. Bourdieu and Passeron cite Latin as an example: students from the lower classes are less likely to have studied Latin in high school than the children of executives and professionals. By contrast, when wealthier students make poor choices, these mistakes are usually less costly to the student's progress because there are readily available means to rectify such errors. [43]

[19] Not surprisingly, hiring committees usually valorize perceived precocity in job candidates. The younger the scholar, the most talented and driven that candidate is conventionally believed to be. By contrast, older candidates risk being read as unfocused, as not overly committed to academe, or as not that smart. As the affirmative-action forms sent to job applicants attest, being forty or older leaves an applicant open to potential discrimination. Applicants' ages are usually glaringly obvious by the dates of conferral of the BA, conventionally listed on most curricula vitae, and by interviewees' physical appearances when they face hiring committees. One important determinant of a student's age at the conferral of the PhD is the length of the period of study. According to the SED, in 2012, the national average for completing a PhD in letters from the start of graduate school was 8.7 years for men and 8.9 for women, while the median age at the conferral of the doctorate was 33.7 years for men and 33.1 for women. [44] Similarly, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that no significant gender difference exists in the length of time to the completion of the BA. [45] While gender is not a significant factor determining a student's age at degree conferral, class is. As Marc Bousquet points out, at wealthier private research schools, English graduate students may teach one or two courses in only two or three years of their fellowship. By contrast, PhD holders elsewhere frequently teach for eight or ten years, as much as thirty or forty sections or the equivalent of five to seven years of full-time teaching, before completing their doctorates, [46] and not infrequently must perform other part-time work to cover their living expenses. Because students from the middle and upper classes are more likely to attend the wealthier private research schools which typically fund English PhD students better, class is a determinant of the length of time to degree completion. In cases where a PhD program fails to adequately fund its students, reasonably affluent students frequently enjoy financial support from their families. Such support permits a graduate student to avoid excessive teaching or other part-time work and to focus exclusively on his/her studies, facilitating a shorter time to degree completion. Familial money also provides less obvious means to earlier degree completion. For example, financial support can permit a student to acquire quiet housing to sleep and work efficiently. The disparities in debt load suggest that large numbers of PhD students receive substantial amounts of institutional and/or family money during their studies: according to the SED, in 2012, 47.9% of PhDs graduates in the Humanities acquired no debt during their graduate studies. [47] Given academic investments in precocity, hiring committees rarely read age as a strong class marker. Instead, an applicant's age is typically interpreted as a signifier of his/her work ethic, intellectual prowess, and commitment to the profession. Such misrecognitions typically disadvantage working-class candidates, while over-valuing their better-heeled competitors.

[20] As Bourdieu argues, people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds enjoy greater access to linguistic capital, involving not only the more obvious elements of legitimate language—such as ease with vocabulary with greater social currency—but, more intractably, the ability to deploy speech patterns marked as authoritative and a linguistic habitus that provides the speaker with distinction. Because the educational system promotes bourgeois culture (including bourgeois linguistic patterns), students from affluent backgrounds are rewarded for the culture, such as speech habits, acquired from their families. Bourgeois speech is marked by certain characteristics that contrast sharply with the speech of the working classes and is generally characterized by a steady tone and a slow, casual diction, asserting an awareness of the speaker's right to take his time—and the time of other people. The restraint and impassivity of such locution is inextricably intertwined with a sense of ease. [48] Bourdieu and Passeron explain that ironic casualness, mannered elegance, or the assurance which lends ease or the affectation of ease are almost always the mark of those from the upper classes, signaling membership in the elite. [49] By contrast, Bourdieu points out that, lacking a sense of entitlement to verbal space, members of the working classes tend to speak hastily and tend to be plainspoken, disadvantaging them in relation to their well-bred colleagues. [50]

[21] Such linguistic acculturation disadvantages working-class women at the MLA interviews. Working-class women generally do not inherit impressive amounts of linguistic capital from their families. Because academic speech is not typically coincident with the speech patterns acquired from their families, during their formal education, these women must learn an academic language largely foreign to them, engaging in what Sharon O'Dair identifies as bidialectism. [51] Formal education is insufficient to close the gap between the linguistic capital of a working-class female student and that of her more affluent competitors. Most working-class students attend state schools for their undergraduate educations, where large classrooms are commonplace. Unlike the small undergraduate classes characteristic of wealthy private universities and especially at private liberal arts colleges, overcrowded classrooms do not present much opportunity for developing speaking skills. It is difficult for working-class students to ameliorate linguistic disparities in a few years of graduate school. Because of the ability to revise written work, it is easier to mimic bourgeois language in writing samples than in spontaneous speech. Hiring committees not infrequently pronounce a candidate 'good on paper' but not in person: one wonders how often this disparity is the result of the candidate being working class. Typically lacking the same level of verbal dexterity as their middle-class colleagues, working-class women will not shine in a field where rhetorical prowess and poetic language are highly prized. In the discipline, how one formulates an idea is generally considered an important as what one conveys. With verbal dexterity so highly valued, a working-class woman's ideas may appear somewhat unsophisticated, especially if she conveys her thoughts in what Bourdieu identifies in the plain-spokenness characteristic of the working classes. If not used to entitlement to verbal space, she may speed through her responses at an interview, sacrificing nuance and giving reductive versions of her ideas and perhaps appearing deficient in her knowledge or intellectually unsophisticated. Hiring committees may deem such an interviewee a poor teacher, irrespective of how she performs in the classroom. After all, an instructor can bring ample lecture notes to the classroom. However, because academic labor is often mystified, structured by perceptions that Humanities professors do not work in classrooms but are inspired speakers, the illusion of an inspired speaker who can speak eloquently ex tempore is highly valorized.

[22] Because large numbers of people from the middle classes populate the professoriate, middle-class and wealthier candidates might understand themselves to be entitled to good academic posts and demonstrate self-assuredness in the presence of hiring committees comprised predominantly of people from comparable socioeconomic backgrounds as their own. By contrast, working-class women can demonstrate excessive nervousness, in part because they have learned during their studies that working-class women are not the norm in academe and that professorial posts are not within the usual grasp of women like them. Such nervousness will likely be heightened when interviewing with highly privileged schools, where the working-classes, both as students and as professors, are even less represented. Working-class women have learned that they are out of place in academe, unlike wealthier students, who, as Bourdieu and Passeron explain, are inclined to feel at home in the educational system. [52] Worse, as Claudia Leeb argues, scholars feel comfortable with the working classes as long as the latter constitute objects of study and are in their appropriate occupations outside the academic context, but academics get nervous if they encounter someone from this "other" world in their world, the world that academia and the middle class create, to produce and to sustain their supposed superiority. The abjection of the working classes as unintelligent and academically incapable is the central lie upon which the commonality among the subjects in the academic system is based. [53]

[23] Other factors can heighten working-class women's nervousness at job interviews. Working-class job candidates, male or female, usually have meager familial or personal financial resources but sizable student loan debt and therefore generally have more pressure to enter post-PhD jobs quickly, compared to more affluent candidates from families that can afford to support scholars in limbo between graduate school and full-time employment. Consequently, working-class candidates can exhibit greater levels of stress or anxiety at job interviews than those with the luxury of abstaining from paid labor for periods of time. [54] The former could appear to be desperate or straining, neither of which are appealing characteristics. Anxiety related to financial difficulties may be misconstrued as anxiety or insecurity about knowledge. Being adjudicated by interviewers who are not likely to be her "peeps," a working-class woman's socioeconomic differences combined with gender might induce her speak too deferentially and not authoritatively or to answer questions as if taking PhD comprehensive exams rather than conversing with future peers. Also, working-class women would have difficulties constructing the illusion, for the benefit of hiring committees, that they have the gift, that they are naturally talented and brilliant. Working-class women can appear earnest, hard-working, and studied, thereby doubly proving that they lack the gift. Needing to be ingratiating yet authoritative, reassuring and familiar while conveying a commanding presence, working-class women are not likely to fare well in an intense, thirty-to-sixty minute interview. Working-class male academics are generally less plagued by issues surrounding speech because, although linguistically disadvantaged by class, gender works in their favor; and, other demographic factors being equal, men are conventionally encouraged to talk and to hold the floor longer than women throughout their preceding academic training. [55] Hence, the MLA interview would not likely pose as much of a verbal challenge to them. However, most working-class men could be expected to demonstrate varying degrees of some disadvantages discussed here and perhaps, because of the hegemonic expectation of men to be breadwinners, heightened stress about securing jobs quickly.

[24] Just as language is class-coded, class-coded semiotics are written across the body. Bourdieu employs the term "bodily hexis" to describe the embodiment of class in one's physical being and social bearing. A bodily hexis encompasses the class-based ways in which bodies walk, move through space, gesture, and appear. [56] Bourdieu explains that the opposite of the bourgeois sense of ease and self-assurance surrounding the body is embarrassment and timidity, the timidity of one who watches, checks, and corrects himself and who gives himself away by either clumsiness or hypercorrection. [57] The body, which is a social product, is commonly perceived as the most natural expression of a person's innermost nature. Bourdieu observes, "There are no merely 'physical' facial signs: the colour and thickness of lipstick, or expressions, as well as the shape of the face or the mouth, are immediately read as indices of a 'moral' physiognomy, socially characterized, i.e., of a 'vulgar' or 'distinguished' mind." [58] The hexes of working-class women's bodies typically undermine their overall performances at MLA interviews. Their often inelegant garments and coiffures code working-class female academics as out of place. Even when these women are able to acquire suitable attire, the ill-suited ways in which they might wear such garments can mark them as out of place as well. As Bourdieu remarks, "The naive exhibitionism of 'conspicuous consumption,' which seeks distinction in the crude display of ill-mastered luxury, is nothing compared to the ... quasi-creative power which sets the aesthete apart from the common herd by a radical difference which seems to be inscribed in 'persons.'" [59] While affluent academicians possess the savior faire to dress and groom in accordance with the dictates of the profession, working-class practitioners often do not know how to construct such appearances. But more intractable than matters of taste and decorum—some of which might be acquired through extensive effort—one's gait, postures, and facial expressions are extremely difficult to alter. The ways in which working-class bodies emote, gesture, and inhabit space do not bespeak refinement. Members of hiring committees might detect a certain "je ne sais quoi" about these women that is off-putting, a sense that these women are "not one of us" and would be incompatible with other faculty members at departmental and university functions. Interviewers are rarely aware—on a conscious level—that they are reading class codes but more routinely interpret these codes as evidence of a candidate's personal characteristics. In the absence of such awareness, working-class women risk having their corporal signifiers stripped of socioeconomic significations and replaced by meanings that construe these signifiers as evidence of other characteristics. The bodily hexes of working-class female academics code them as possessing common, not distinguished minds. The example of corpulence illustrates this point. Kathleen LeBesco explains that "fatness" in the U.S. is currently closely associated with the poor and working classes and that fat individuals are understood to be "lazy, out of control, without will, ignorant, or some combination thereof." In opposition to this body stands "the supposedly 'healthy body'—the lean, toned body—as a signifier of moral worth." [60] As a pool of laborers, working-class female holders of newly minted PhDs, typically with less time for fitness and with less money for healthier foods, gym memberships, and personal trainers than their middle- and upper-class counterparts, would have a higher tendency towards corpulence and hence would more likely be subjected to such moral adjudications.

[25] Irrespective of working-class female candidates' body sizes, their overall bodily hexes typically code them as inauthentic guardians of the great cultural legacy that is the English literary tradition. Curators of this great bequest require distinction. It is a structuring premise in the discipline that English literary scholars possess greater levels of appreciation and understanding of literature and culture than the populace. These inheritors stand above what Bourdieu identifies as the greyness of the multitude and can recognize themselves among the elect. [61] In contemporary America, working-class women are hegemonically deemed to be inappropriate stewards of bourgeois culture. Because of gender and class, they can neither stand out against the greyness of the multitude nor shine as members of the elect, for they blend in too well with the unwashed masses. Their bodily hexes do not code them as possessing distinction, and they do not stand out as appropriate curators of culture. In an era of inadequate budgets in English departments, when a dearth of capital increases the importance of cultural capital and prestige, departments may be more inclined to hire colleagues who can exude distinction.

[26] An important part of being an English professor is exuding cultural authority. Members of the middle and upper classes can guarantee cultural authority at the bodily level, through manners and demeanor, for example. By contrast, the working classes do not have cultural authority inscribed in their comportment. Their gait, gestures, and facial expressions do not typically guarantee such authority or verify that they are suitable vessels for, and guardians of, cultural riches. How then can they be authentic curators of culture? Working-class male academics have an advantage at the bodily level, because if they cannot guarantee cultural authority through class position, they can at least guarantee some version of authority at the site of gender.

[27] Apart from embodied guarantees of refinement, cultural authority can be generated in part through a scholar's academic endeavors, such as presenting at prestigious conferences and researching in archives. Working-class scholars often cannot attend important conferences in their fields because of the expense. Regarding archives, as Carol Steedman points out, traveling to an archive grants a researcher cultural authority, largely irrespective of what the researcher finds there. [62] Young working-class scholars are less financially equipped to journey to such venues, and lacking such research experiences can make a job applicant appear deficient.

[28] Working-class academics are positioned to encounter yet another difficulty at MLA interviews: for working-class scholars whose pro-working class worldviews and politics shape their research, unintelligibility can surround their scholarship. Perceiving the world in ways not generally supported in academe, such working-class academics often pursue different issues than their more affluent competitors—or different approaches to the same issues. There is a considerable burden of proof on young scholars who produce non-hegemonic scholarship or who wish to teach non-hegemonic courses. Because working-class scholars do not usually constitute the majority on hiring committees, some members of a hiring committee might have difficulty recognizing the legitimacy of such unconventional areas of inquiry and regard them as idiosyncratic. As Annette Kolodny points out, many women and "minority" scholars whose research interests are innovative use methodologies unfamiliar to those senior colleagues entrenched in more orthodox approaches; in many cases, "unfamiliarity breeds contempt," suspicion, and devaluation. [63] Working-class women whose class backgrounds significantly influence their scholarly interests and methodological approaches can be subject to such illegibility. Moreover, when these women write explicitly on class, their scholarship can elicit disapproval, since class-based analyses may be perceived as passé, as inappropriate in the discipline, or as dismissible versions of identity politics rather than as serious intellectual endeavors. Working-class women who have not given themselves over to bourgeois aesthetics but who conceptualize teaching in politicized terms, such as viewing the classroom as a site of empowerment for students or as a site for interrogating knowledge production and power, are particularly susceptible to being condemned as poorly trained and incapable of truly appreciating Art. Given that, as Bourdieu demonstrates, the Arts in academe are structured by bourgeois aesthetics, [64] a working-class scholar resistant to these aesthetics risks being dismissed as possessing only naïve understandings of literature, in keeping with commonplace understandings of working-class interpretations of art. [65]

[29] Such unintelligibility surrounding working-class job candidates is often gendered. When white and heterosexual, working-class men entering the professoriate are frequently interpreted through a lens of exceptionalism: extraordinary talent propelled them out of the working classes into the profession; these men are diamonds in the rough, geniuses who emerged from the greyness of the multitude, men whose very presence among job contenders attests to academe's meritocracy. White working-class, heterosexual male academics are not infrequently expected to bear the burden of representation for the working classes, particularly when these scholars write about class issues and especially about working-class literature. Because of their gender, their female counterparts, however, are generally viewed as ineligible to speak for the working classes en masse: their gender renders them capable of articulating only sectional interests. The burden of representation, although a highly problematic ascription for any member of a subordinate group, at least grants white working-class heterosexual men a certain recognizability regarding class, a decipherability seldom available to their female counterparts or to working-class gays and lesbians and people of color. For departments that wish to broaden the demographics of their faculty to include the working classes, not a common undertaking but occasionally desired in departments that offer working-class studies or in schools with large numbers of working-class students, the decipherability of white, working-class men can translate into job offers for them. By contrast, for hiring committees, gender can render working-class women undesirable or largely illegible as working-class scholars, just as race or non-normative sexuality can eclipse the class positions of candidates from these demographics.

[30] Although there is insufficient time for a full discussion of other types of interviews deployed in the process of hiring tenure-track faculty members in English, a few points are important to note. In some ways, interviews by phone or by Skype and interviews on campus are less inequitable than those held at the MLA convention. On the phone, candidates' bodies are not on display, meaning that hiring committees cannot easily detect a candidate's embodiment of socioeconomic position: as a (partially) disembodied voice, a working-class candidate is spared being assessed for her bodily presence and its relation to cultural authority. Similarly, her age will not be visible on her face, and hence the issue of precocity is not as pronounced. Instead, speech patterns assume heightened importance, with all its attendant class-based and gendered difficulties. Both telephone and Skype interviews spare job seekers the travel expenses associated with the MLA interview, mitigating a financial obstacle for poorer applicants. Finances in a more expansive sense, though, have even greater significance because phone and Skype interviews require a candidate to occupy quiet environs, away from train tracks, barking dogs, blaring stereos, car alarms, noisy neighbors, and other markers of poverty. Skype interviews also require high quality computer equipment and internet service, which poorer candidates are less likely to have than their wealthier competitors. Unlike phone interviews, Skype interviews do not thwart interviewers from detecting a candidate's age. Skype interviews are better than MLA interviews in that the candidate's bodily hexis is not fully apparent, since candidates typically display little more than their heads and shoulders and can control the framing. The mise-en-scènes can be revealing, though. Hiring committees enter candidates' homes and catch glimpses of the spaces the latter have created. Such spaces offer an array of class markers subject to interpretations that may not recognize these markers as class-based but that may read these semiotics as evidence of other characteristics. Overall, phone and Skype interviews can lessen some of the fierce class-based disadvantages that MLA interviews present for working-class women but are no panacea.

[31] In many ways, on-campus interviews present fewer obstacles for working-class candidates than MLA interviews. While MLA interviews by their very nature entail a heightened emphasis on a candidate's appearance, presence, bodily hexis, age, poise, embodiment of cultural authority and other qualities more strongly tied to class than to ability, on-campus interviews are too lengthy for such considerations to weigh as heavily as they do at brief interviews. When a hiring committee must interact with a job candidate for a day or two, the content of her speech plays a substantial role in their adjudication. The longer time span gives the hiring committee and their colleagues a much fuller view of the candidate. If committee members are initially put off by a candidate's class markers, the candidate still has a day or two to try to compensate for these class-based disadvantages, to win over the committee, and to push committee members to look beyond class markers and to hear what she has to say about her area of expertise. The candidate has the chance to challenge some class-based and gendered assumptions about her, and she has the potential to win people over. On-campus interviews are not idyllic, however; working-class women may be unsettled by unfamiliar etiquette, surrounding dining or alcohol, for example. Regardless, it is difficult for working-class female candidates to get opportunities to interview on campus, especially for more desirable posts, since the MLA interviews are the typical screening mechanism for such invitations.

[32] The MLA interview helps determine the class-based and gendered distribution of instructors across the ranks of the professoriate in the discipline of English. The MLA interview is an effective tracking mechanism to distribute workers according to class and gender, sorting new PhD holders into posts already predetermined for them. More fortunate working-class women, in the end, land in tenure-track posts, typically at less prestigious schools, with only a small group of working-class women (typically those with impressive pedigree) ending up in a tenure-track posts at "research university I" institutions. Statistically speaking, most working-class women who complete their PhDs in English do not win tenure-track jobs but become contingent faculty members. If granted the opportunity to interview at the MLA, in disproportionate numbers compared to their male counterparts and to middle-class contenders of both genders, working-class women are deemed unsuitable candidates to invite to campus, for reasons that have little to do with their intellectual abilities, training, or potential. Because of their gender and class, these women are more likely than their competitors to be passed over, although—at a conscious level—most interviewers remain oblivious to the degree to which gender and class shaped their assessments of candidates' performances.


[1] Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron, The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relation to Culture, Trans. Richard Nice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 67.

[2] Bourdieu and Passeron, 19-20.

[3] The American working classes are highly stratified and diverse, including those whose primary occupations are in the service sectors, skilled trades, industry, lower-level white collar sectors, migrant work, the lower ranks of civil servants, and the less prestigious levels of medical professions. Such occupations are typically characterized by lower wages than the professions, limited autonomy, and no university degree requirements (or BAs at most).

[4] The MLA has a Travel Grant Program, where advanced graduate students compete for $300 to help defray travel expenses.

[5] See Stephen L. Muzzatti and C. Vincent Samarco, "Working Class Need Not Apply: Job Hunting, Job Interviews, and the Working-Class Experience in Academia," Reflections from the Wrong Side of the Tracks: Class, Identity, and the Working Class Experience in Academe, edited by Stephen L. Muzzatti and C. Vincent Samarco (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 69-80, at 71-74.

[6] Examples include Carrie Tirado Bramen, "Minority Hiring in the Age of Downsizing," Power, Race, and Gender in Academe: Strangers in the Tower? edited by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim and María Herrera-Sobek (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2000), and Michelle A. Massé and Katie J. Hogan, Over Ten Million Served: Gendered Service in Language and Literature Workplaces (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010).

[7] Kenneth Oldfield and Richard F. Conant, "Professors, Social Class, and Affirmative Action: A Pilot Study," National Association of Schools of Pubic Affairs and Administration 7.3 (July 2001): 171-85, at 180-183. See also Kenneth Oldfield, "Social Class and Public Administration: A Closed Question Opens," Administration & Society 35.4 (2003): 438-61, at 453-455.

[8] Fortunately, there are a few exceptions, Sharon O'Dair being a notable one. O'Dair's work includes "Clueless about Class in Academe," Symplokē 17.1-2 (2009): 27-39, and "Class Work: Site of Egalitarian Activism or Site of Embourgeoisement?" College English 65.6 (July 2003): 593-606.

[9] See, for example, Saundra Gardner, "What's a Nice Working-Class Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" Working-Class Women in the Academy: Laborers in the Knowledge Factory, edited by Michelle M. Tokarczyk and Elizabeth A. Fay (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), 49-59, at 51-52.

[10] Seymour Martin Lipset and Everett C. Ladd, Jr., "The Changing Social Origins of American Academics," Qualitative and Quantitative Social Research: Papers in Honor of Paul F. Lazarsfeld (New York: The Free Press, 1979), 319-38, at 320-23 and 332. On the higher socioeconomic backgrounds of women, see also Dorothy E. Finnegan, "Segmentation in the Academic Labor Market: Hiring Cohorts in Comprehensive Universities," The Journal of Higher Education 64.6 (Nov/Dec. 1993): 621-56, at 636, 641, and 647.

[11] Melinda A. Zeder, The American Archaeologist: A Profile (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 1997), 14. Regarding only academics in Zeder's analysis, 21% of academics self-identified as lower class and 24% as upper class (cited as personal communication in Michael J. Shott, "An Unwashed's Knowledge of Archaeology: Class and Merit in Academic Placement," Reflections, 221-39, at 231).

[12] Finnegan, 635-36, 641, and 647.

[13] National Science Foundation, Table 33,"Educational attainment of doctorate recipients' parents, by sex, citizenship, race, ethnicity, and broad field of study: 2012," Survey of Earned Doctorates. «».

[14] Lipset and Ladd, 321.

[15] Lipset and Ladd, 323-24. Lipset and Ladd's 1975 survey found that Jewish academics formed a disproportionately large segment of American academe and of the better institutions in particular, despite lower socioeconomic origins than their Protestant colleagues (328).

[16] Diana Crane, "Social Class Origin and Academic Success: The Influence of Two Stratification Systems on Academic Careers," Sociology of Education 42.1 (Winter 1969): 1-17, at 1 and 5.

[17] For another example, see Oldfield and Conant.

[18] Finnegan, 621.

[19] Robert McGinnis and J. Scott Long, "Entry into Academia: Effects of Stratification, Geography, and Ecology," The Academic Profession: The Professoriate in Crisis, edited by Philip G. Altbach and Martin J. Finkelstein (New York: Garland, 1997), 342-65, at 362. See also 354.

[20] Shott, Reflections, 234-35.

[21] Stephen Wu, "Where Do Faculty Receive Their PhDs?" Academe (91.4) (July-August 2005): 53-54.

[22] Robert B. Townsend, "New Study Highlights Prominence of Elite PhD Programs in History." Perspectives on History 43.7 (Oct. 2005); « october-2005/new-study-highlights-prominence-of-elite-phd-programs-in-history».

[23] Ann L. Mullen, Degrees of Inequality: Culture, Class, and Gender in American Higher Education (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2010), 5-6 and 9.

[24] Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose, "Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Selective College Admissions," America's Untapped Resources: Low-Income Students in Higher Education, edited by Richard D. Kahlenberg (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2004), 101-56, at 106.

[25] Mullen, 7-9. See also Bourdieu and Passeron, 7; and Crane, 1-3.

[26] Zelda F. Gamson, "The Stratification of the Academy," Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University, ed. Randy Martin (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998): 103-111, at 109.

[27] Carnevale and Rose, 109-10.

[28] Robert B. Townsend, "Privileging History: Trends in the Undergraduate Origins of History PhDs," Perspectives on History 43.6 (Sept. 2005): 14-20, at 14; see also Townsend, "Job Market Report 2004," Perspectives on History 43.1 (Jan. 2005): 13-19.

[29] Crane, 1 and 11-12.

[30] Townsend, "Privileging History," 14 and 19.

[31] Townsend, "Privileging History," 19.

[32] Michael J. Shott, "How Liberal Arts Colleges Perpetuate Class Bias," Academe 92.5 (Sept/Oct. 2006): 22-25, at 23-24.

[33] The MLA's Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession has issued multiple surveys and reports on the status of female faculty members, the most notable reports being "Women in the Profession, 2000" «» and "Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey" «». The MLA has also published at least one book on women in the profession: Power, Race, and Gender in Academe.

[34] National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 286: Employees in degree-granting institutions by employment status, sex, control and level of institution, and primary occupation: Fall 2011." «».

[35] Saranna Thornton and John W. Curtis, "A Very Slow Recovery: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession 2011-12," Academe 98.2 (March-April 2012): 3-15, 18-83, at 31.

[36] MLA, "Women," 201.

[37] National Center for Education Statistics, Table 325.50, "Degrees in English Language and Literature/Letters conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and sex of student: Selected years, 1949-50 through 2011-12." «».

[38] MLA, "Women," 213.

[39] Notable exceptions include Working-Class Women in the Academy, and Claudia Leeb, Working-Class Women in Elite Academia: A Philosophical Inquiry (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2004).

[40] John Guillory, "The System of Graduate Education," PMLA 115.5 (Oct. 2000): 1154-63, at 1154-55 and 1160-61.

[41] Michael J. Shott, "Guilt by Affiliation: Merit and Standing in Academic Archaeology," The SAA Archaeological Record 4.2 (March 2004): 30-37, at 36.

[42] Gamson, 106.

[43] Bourdieu and Passeron, 9, 12, 14, and 71.

[44] The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED)'s Table 66, "Statistical profile of doctorate recipients in humanities fields, by sex and field of study: 2012." «».

[45] The U.S. Census Bureau's Table 6D,"Average Years Taken by Advanced Degree Holders to Start and Complete Bachelor's Degrees, 2009," reports that the average number of years for men to complete Bachelor's degrees is 5.6 years while women take 5.7 years. «».

[46] Marc Bousquet, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York: NYU Press, 2008), 23-25.

[47] SED, Table 38, "Education-related debt of doctorate recipients, by broad field of study: 2012." «».

[48] Bourdieu, Distinction, 174 and 218. See also Bourdieu and Passeron, 15, 21-22, and 75.

[49] Bourdieu and Passeron, 15 and 20.

[50] Bourdieu, Distinction, 176-77 and 218.

[51] Sharon O'Dair, "Class Work: Site of Egalitarian Activism or Site of Embourgeoisement?" College English 65.6 (July 2003): 593-606, at 595.

[52] Bourdieu and Passeron, 13-14. The titles of two of the best-known collections of working-class academics convey this sentiment: This Fine Place so Far from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class, edited by C. L. Barney Dews and Carolyn Leste Law (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995); and Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class, edited by Jake Ryan and Charles Sackrey (Boston: South End Press, 1984).

[53] Leeb, 114 and 123.

[54] See Muzzatti and Samarco, 71-72.

[55] On conventional gendered speech patterns in American classrooms, see, for example, Jane Roland Martin, Coming of Age in Academe: Rekindling Women's Hopes and Reforming the Academy (New York: Routledge, 2000), 86-90.

[56] Bourdieu, chap. 3 of Distinction, and Language & Symbolic Power, edited by John B. Thompson and translated by Gino Raymond and Matthew Adamson (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 81-89.

[57] Bourdieu, Distinction, 207.

[58] Bourdieu, Distinction, 192-93.

[59] Bourdieu, Distinction, 31.

[60] Kathleen LeBesco, "Fat Panic and the New Morality," Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality, edited by Jonathan M. Metzl and Anna Kirkland (New York: New York University Press, 2010), 72-82, at 73, 75, and 81.

[61] Bourdieu, Distinction, 31.

[62] Carolyn Steedman, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2002).

[63] Annette, Kolodny, Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 84-85 and 88-89. See also Robyn Wiegman, "What Ails Feminist Criticism? A Second Opinion," Critical Inquiry 25.2 (1999): 362-79.

[64] Bourdieu, Part I of Distinction.

[65] Bourdieu and Passeron, 15, remark that bourgeois students have more gratuitous intellectual commitments than less affluent students. For an example of a class-based departmental clash of methodologies where working-class academics insisted on political considerations, see Daniel D. Martin, "Critique of Domination: The Pain, Praxis, and Polemics of Working-Class Consciousness in Academia," Reflections, 135-58.