This question is prompted by reading that Martin Amis has become a professor at Manchester University. I am mystified as to why this is so. As far as I can gather he has no postgraduate qualifications nor has ever taught or lectured at a university before. I find this very unfair when there are people on this forum who will find it very difficult to get a job in academia when they have completed their doctorates.
So what?! Is my response....
He's a highly respected writer, no doubt he has spoken at literary festivals and the like.... moreover HE'S A PROFESSOR OF CREATIVE WRITING. I'm finding it difficult to comprehend how he could be MORE suited to such a position....
I think your question shows some narrow-mindedness and pitifull, naive resentment. It is a great honour for Manchester Uni to have Amis as a professor. Try to think outside the box and ask yourself honestly, who do you think will be remembered by posterity for having contributed to the culture and identity of the country? All of the many thousands with doctorates? Or a celebrated and talented writer? No doubt Amis's lectures and teachings on creative writing will go down in history. Who do you think will be reading our theses in 10 years time?
Since Manchester became a 'Super University' they are attempting to move right up the rankings. I read somewhere that they want to be in the top 25 in the world. Attracting big names seems to be part of this mission.
As for Martin Amis being a 'Professor', his body of work over the past 30-odd years justifies this. I can understand the cynical aspect i.e., the fact he won't be based in Manchester etc. But there are lots of other Professors that don't have PhDs, and are given the title because of their body of work in industry etc.
Personally, I think it's quite a coup for Manchester, and I'm glad they got him, rather than one of the usual suspects, such as, LSE who'd call him a Professor of Social Creative Commentary (or the like)
Kaymoy, regarding your statement: “who do you think will be remembered by posterity for having contributed to the culture and identity of the country? All of the many thousands with doctorates? Or a celebrated and talented writer?” Surely this is a matter of opinion? It is hardly a basis for higher education policy. It also shows little faith in doctoral students. Who are we to say who will and will not be remembered? I personally think Amis is a slight author, and vastly overrated.
Orian, I did not mean to devalue doctoral study but I think a little humility is needed here. This notion that we are 'entitled' to jobs, because we will hold PhDs, above others who have also produced substantial work and from whom students can benefit, and the additional notion that the latter should not be allowed to 'take jobs away from us', sounds a little spoiled to me.
Kaymoy, we must not be supportive of Amis (and others like him who find easy entry into much coveted academic positions because of their celebrity in largely non-academic fields) merely because his students may learn something useful about writing fiction.
Many people who have gone through years of PhD study and the resulting demoralising search for a job in academia are not best served if people such as Amis are allowed such easy access into academic jobs. Besides it is unlikely that he will have the same workload as a regular professor. His work hours are certainly shorter and his salary is considerably more (nearly half a million pounds a year) This money could have funded several post doc and lectureship positions at Manchester.
But Amis is not really to blame. He was offered the job and he took it—who wouldn’t. The real problem is the Research Assessment Exercise, which makes this sort of thing possible.
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