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David Hershinow, 2013, English

In May of 2013, I defended my dissertation and received a job offer on the same day (in the parking lot of Medieval Times, our chosen venue for celebrating in style). For five years, I was a Lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program, which offers first-year writing courses on a similar model to the one used by the Expository Writing Program at Johns Hopkins. It seems clear to me that my success in securing this position had a lot to do with my experience as an EWP instructor—though I’d also credit my years working in the Johns Hopkins Writing Center, which culminated in my serving as its Director. Being a PWP lecturer was highly rewarding, and I would recommend it (and all the other Harvard-model expos programs) as a very strong secondary option to anyone on the academic job market. In addition to teaching, I was supported in my research and published my first book, Shakespeare and the Truth-Teller: Confronting the Cynic Ideal, in 2019.

I stayed on the market for all the years I was PWP faculty, but I never managed to secure a tenure-track position. At the end of my five-year term limit, I was able to move into a VAP in the English Department at Baruch College, CUNY, and for that I can only credit the support of my spouse’s chair in helping us through our two-body problem. I only worked at Baruch for one year, but even that small degree of familiarity with the CUNY system proved invaluable when I applied to be the founding Director of the Writing Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Up until that point, I’d been completely focused on faculty positions, but I was strongly drawn to the idea of running a writing center for graduate students, especially when it seemed to me that my own continued research activity could be seen as an essential part of the work. I put absolutely everything into my candidacy: I talked with people who ran other student-facing offices at the GC, met with a writing center director from a different CUNY school, and, for the campus visit, I even designed my own logo for the not-yet-founded GC Writing Center to put on my handouts.

Now that I’m entering my third year in this job, I can say that it’s exceeded my expectations. Building something from the ground up has been hard and deeply fulfilling work. This is true not only with respect to the Writing Center, but also the Professional Development Program, a cluster of zero-credit courses I’ve been tasked with running, and which I’m in the process of growing into a graduate writing program. Within the PDP, I teach “Effective Academic Writing for Native English Speakers,” and, in the future, I’ll also be teaching the occasional literature course for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. Maintaining my research agenda has probably been the hardest thing to do these past years, though that’s largely down to the pandemic and having two small children. That being said, I’m currently reading and thinking my way toward a new book project on the genderqueer Renaissance.