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The End of Burnout


29 September 2023

Responsable de l'activité

Simon Swift


Prof. Simon Swift

Mme. Eliis Maria Peters


Prof. Jonathan Malesic, University of Texas


Burnout is a growing concern for academics as much as for those within other vocations, and sadly PhD students are not immune to its risks. This one-day event will welcome Jonathan Malesic, author of The End of Bunout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives (University of California Press, 2022) to discuss the science, culture, and philosophy of burnout, and how to cultivate a relationship to (academic) work that might help to avoid it. Malesic was himself an academic specializing in the theology of work, before suffering his own burnout. He now leads a more multifaceted life, working as a sushi chef as well as adjunct professor in Dallas, Texas, and, as his recent publication goes to show, is a thriving academic outside of the teaching machine. Indeed, part of the story that Malesic has to tell – informed by his own research into the theology of work, - is that those most at risk of burnout are those who have studied the nature of modern work and its relation to the academic vocation, such as Max Weber – author of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and himself an early victim of burnout. Given that the topic of this workshop – both as an experience of the academic vocation and a subject of scholarly research – touches all areas of our discipline, our hope is that it will bring together doctoral students in English studies from across the historical spectrum and the literature/linguistics divide. The risk of burnout, and an urgent need to reflect on the changing culture of academic work in the digital age, unite us. Participants will be asked to read 1-2 chapters of Malesic's monograph ahead of the workshop. The workshop will be divided into three parts. In our first session, after brief opening remarks from the organizers, a tour of the table will enable each participant to reflect on their relation to their work and to work, how they manage their time and the difficulties that they perceive research (and, if relevant, teaching) to pose to their wellbeing. Any doctoral students who study practices of work and labour in different periods will be invited to give short presentations on their doctoral projects. In the second session, Malesic will give a talk based on his monograph, which will combine a discussion of his research into the theology of work with a description of his own personal experience of burnout and how it has led him to a different relationship to academic writing. Our third session, in the afternoon, will shift tack. Given the current crisis in the job market in the humanities, a further aim of our workshop will be to draw on Malesic's expertise to sensitize doctoral students to the possibilities of a different relation to the academic profession, as an alternative to the permanent, tenured post (increasingly hard to come by). As well as publishing with a high-profile university press, Malesic writes for intelligent online "crossover" journals such as Aeon. Our third session, then, will take the form of a writing workshop, where doctoral participants will be invited to imagine how they might write about their research, and/ or their experience of academia for a more public-facing and "impactful" forum, and to receive coaching and feedback from Malesic himself on a short writing exercise conducted on the spot.





Deadline for registration 22.09.2023
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