So déjà vu all over again. I started assembling materials for a related "literature of whither U" post. Looking for more about Donoghue and his book, I hoped for a page, found more reviews, but hit pay dirt on YouTube, with a series of 4 short videos of an interview that I added to the New Faculty Majority playlist (above), BYOP.
In Academic Matters (Canada), Emily Gregor Greenleaf calls The Last Professors: "a eulogy to Stanley Aronowitz' 'last good job in America'" (2011). She notes that,
Although Donoghue values the disappearing fields and the type of work they provide, his goal is not to argue for their continued relevance. Donoghue is distinct from others who have discussed the marginalization of the humanities in that he sees this disappearance, not as an assault on the values of the liberal arts, but as an unintended consequence of much larger changes in the academic system.
The tenure-track professoriate will never be restored. Two factors seal its fate. First, the hiring of adjuncts continues to outpace the hiring of tenure-track professors by a rate of three to one. It’s silly to think we can reverse the trend toward casualization when, despite a great deal of attention and effort, we can’t even slow it down. Second, the demographics of American higher education don’t help us either. For 40 years, students have been moving away from the humanities toward vocationalism. This trend has been accompanied by an equally pronounced shift in enrollments from four-year schools (with English and History majors) to community colleges, where the humanities have never had a strong presence. Tenure-track professors don’t have a place in this new higher education universe. Much as it pains me to say it, I never considered putting a question mark at the end of my title, The Last Professors.Back at the Chronicle, Bousquet blogs Last Professors? (with a question mark), describing the book as a "vigorous, approachable, and often angry book that seeks to hold the tenurable minority responsible for the steady flowering of multiple tiers of labor" and criticizes professional associations and graduate programs. Quoting Donoghue in Last Professors,
This take-charge, self-help approach is perfectly pitched to an audience of job-seekers who have survived graduate school and earned the Ph.D., and who cannot bring themselves to admit that the academic labor system is rigged against them. Instead, they deny it, or, more accurately, they don’t believe that the system will personally victimize them. If they fail, it is because they were “underprepared.” Ideally, they believe that their personal merit and thorough preparation will override the workings of the ‘market.’ … If you believe that success or failure is largely up to you, the job search itself becomes an intense personal drama about individual distinction and merit (p 37).…Marc did not want to believe it either.