Ross Bullen, Lecturer, OCAD, English, and ACCUTE Representative

Ross Bullen, Lecturer, OCAD, English, and ACCUTE Representative

BY: Catherine Nygren

PRINT IMRPIMER

Ross BullenRoss’s PhD project in Western’s English department was on the cultural history of the “white elephant” as a metaphor for useless objects that are impossible to sell or give away in American literature. It wasn’t what he thought he was going to write about when he started, but after reflecting on the topic in a course paper, the concept led him and his dissertation down new, interdisciplinary paths.

At his institution, he had a variety of TAships, and although the ones with both teaching and marking could be more challenging, Ross preferred those that had tutorials and direct contact with students. In his final year, he also had the rare opportunity to teach an undergraduate course with his own syllabus, which was a foundational moment for his pedagogical approach. A position on a campaign to unionize postdocs on campus also provided a key source of funding late in his degree, which—in addition to internal and external funding—enabled him to complete his doctorate.

Ross completed his dissertation in just over five years. Winning the McIntosh Prize, where he presented his research to a panel of judges, gave him a needed boost, and when he found out a potential external examiner was coming to give a guest lecture, he was motivated to plunge towards the finish line. All the way along, Ross was supported by an excellent committee who provided both intellectual and professional mentorship, and who have continued to be supportive with applications for research grants and postdocs.

After finishing his degree, Ross went to McGill to teach a few courses as a sessional, then returned to Western to teach as a sessional for two years. During this time, he had the unique opportunity to interview for a tenure-track job in American literature in his former department. Though he didn’t get the position, the interview and following advice has been invaluable for all his job interviews since.

After Western, Ross went to Mount Allison for a nine-month contract, which was followed by another year-long contract. At the end of his time at Mount Allison, he found a three-year contract at OCAD University, where he is currently. He enjoys his role at OCAD, as well as the students, and he appreciates being able to live in Toronto. His 3-3 course load leaves the summer months for his own research and writing projects. Although he feels that he was well-trained in general for his series of positions, Ross does remember that his program’s grad development sessions were tilted towards best-case scenarios, like how to decide between two tenure-track job offers, rather than on the realistic expectations needed for the grind of the tough job market.

Beyond his teaching contract, Ross has recently taken on a position as the Contract Academic Faculty Caucus Representative (2016-18) with the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE). The position continues his interest in labour activism that he cultivated at Western, and builds upon his growing interest in precarious academic labour in the Canadian university and college system. In particular, Ross points to the need for further public engagement on the issue, both within and beyond the university system. Restructuring PhD programs towards the non/alt-academic job market may invite models that are already being provided by other degree programs. Instead, Ross would like to see a greater focus on advocacy for reliable, permanent academic positions for PhD graduates.

 

Ross BullenRoss’s PhD project in Western’s English department was on the cultural history of the “white elephant” as a metaphor for useless objects that are impossible to sell or give away in American literature. It wasn’t what he thought he was going to write about when he started, but after reflecting on the topic in a course paper, the concept led him and his dissertation down new, interdisciplinary paths.

At his institution, he had a variety of TAships, and although the ones with both teaching and marking could be more challenging, Ross preferred those that had tutorials and direct contact with students. In his final year, he also had the rare opportunity to teach an undergraduate course with his own syllabus, which was a foundational moment for his pedagogical approach. A position on a campaign to unionize postdocs on campus also provided a key source of funding late in his degree, which—in addition to internal and external funding—enabled him to complete his doctorate.

Ross completed his dissertation in just over five years. Winning the McIntosh Prize, where he presented his research to a panel of judges, gave him a needed boost, and when he found out a potential external examiner was coming to give a guest lecture, he was motivated to plunge towards the finish line. All the way along, Ross was supported by an excellent committee who provided both intellectual and professional mentorship, and who have continued to be supportive with applications for research grants and postdocs.

After finishing his degree, Ross went to McGill to teach a few courses as a sessional, then returned to Western to teach as a sessional for two years. During this time, he had the unique opportunity to interview for a tenure-track job in American literature in his former department. Though he didn’t get the position, the interview and following advice has been invaluable for all his job interviews since.

After Western, Ross went to Mount Allison for a nine-month contract, which was followed by another year-long contract. At the end of his time at Mount Allison, he found a three-year contract at OCAD University, where he is currently. He enjoys his role at OCAD, as well as the students, and he appreciates being able to live in Toronto. His 3-3 course load leaves the summer months for his own research and writing projects. Although he feels that he was well-trained in general for his series of positions, Ross does remember that his program’s grad development sessions were tilted towards best-case scenarios, like how to decide between two tenure-track job offers, rather than on the realistic expectations needed for the grind of the tough job market.

Beyond his teaching contract, Ross has recently taken on a position as the Contract Academic Faculty Caucus Representative (2016-18) with the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE). The position continues his interest in labour activism that he cultivated at Western, and builds upon his growing interest in precarious academic labour in the Canadian university and college system. In particular, Ross points to the need for further public engagement on the issue, both within and beyond the university system. Restructuring PhD programs towards the non/alt-academic job market may invite models that are already being provided by other degree programs. Instead, Ross would like to see a greater focus on advocacy for reliable, permanent academic positions for PhD graduates.

 

Discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

OR AS GUEST

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Participer en tant qu’invité