About

Josh Roiland is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism and a CLAS-Honors Preceptor of Journalism in the Honors College at the University of Maine. Roiland is a cultural historian of the American news media, who holds a Ph.D.in American Studies from St. Louis University. He researches and IMG_7288teaches both content and practice courses on the history and practice of literary journalism in America, the historical relationship between journalism and American politics, the future of news in the digital age, and depictions of journalists in popular culture. He is currently working on two book manuscripts The Elements of Literary Journalism: The Political Promise of Narrative News and The Rest is Silence: The Unexplored Nonfiction of David Foster Wallace. In addition to his scholarship, Roiland has published in a number of popular venues including the Washington Post, Longreads, Nieman Storyboard, and A24 Films (in conjunction with the release of the David Foster Wallace biopic The End of the Tour). He has been a guest on Maine Public Radio’s “Maine Calling” and has appeared with his class on the popular DFW podcast “The Great Concavity.” Before coming to Maine, Roiland was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies and the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy at the University of Notre Dame, and prior to that he was a SAGES Teaching Fellow at Case Western Reserve University, where he was a 2012 nominee for Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

10 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Josh – I came across your review of “The Last Love Song” in the Washington Post. It was lovely! I’ve never read Didion, but I plan to now. Thanks so much for an enjoyable read!

  2. Hi Josh –

    I just read A Shot in the Arm” after my fiance sent me a link to it. I can totally relate to what you’ve experienced. While I didn’t end up going the PhD route, I have two MA’s and the student loans and credit card debt that go along with them. In the mid-1990s, I opted not to continue on and earn a PhD in English (my first MA) because I was seeing how few positions – and how many applicants – were out there. I opted to get a MILS because I thought there were more job opportunities. There are – but you certainly aren’t in danger of getting rich. I thought going to the #1 school for my program would allow me to name my job (it didn’t).

    Growing up in rural PA and living in MI for my final degree program didn’t prepare me for the extraordinary cost of living in New England – first MA, then NH. Had I not been married to someone who earned twice what I did (despite not having even finished his BA), I don’t know how I would have survived financially. In fact I came very close to filing bankruptcy following my divorce several years ago.

    While we might have it difficult, I worry about today’s students who are heading off to college. Tuitions have increased so much since I was in grad school that I don’t know how these kids are ever going to be able to get out from underneath their student loan debt.

    I don’t know what the answer is. But I at least wanted you to know that I can empathize with your situation. If you haven’t already done -or considered doing so – I would encourage you to pursue this topic in your writing. I haven’t seen a whole lot out there in the way of books written about this problem. There are a few out there, but you could write one from the perspective of someone living the problem – not merely studying it.

    Wishing you all good things –

  3. I just read “A Shot in the Arm.” Thank you for your candor; I can relate to much of your story. I thoroughly enjoyed my education in the Humanities but had difficulty finding work in that field. Eventually I chose a different path for graduate school. One source of extra cash for me is tutoring on-line, specifically students in China. It’s more fun than plasma donation, I imagine. Best of luck to you.

  4. As a bankruptcy lawyer, I am pleased that you found your way to Chapter 13 as a way to ameliorate your debt situation. I am struck, however, by what seems to me an appallingly bad cost/benefit analysis for your plasma donation trips. Being generous, I will overlook — unrealistically — a slew of costs: the gas (apparently you never planned to pay for it); fixed automobile costs like insurance and interest; and the unpleasantness/wear-and-tear on your body. Even treating those as “free,” there is no way around 214 miles of wear and tear on your vehicle, and at least four hours of your time. For $50. You would have been better off with any minimum wage job for those hours. If this article boosts your resume and leads to future income, maybe it changes. If that was your thinking, however, it undercuts the premise of that article.

  5. I appreciated the honesty of this article. It was engaging and presented a glimpse into a slice of the world of academia many of us do not see. I was taught to get as much education as I could with no regard to cost. My millennial children were cautious and only enrolled in fully funded programs. I hear (from them) that one’s career in academia is tainted if one enters programs that do not offer stipends etc.

    The piece’s message reminded me of an article that appeared in Harper’s in 1998: “Reflections on the Art of Going Broke.” They both present scenarios and the struggles of people who ostensibly “have it all.” It is good for us to be mindful of the cost and investment made by some of our brightest people.

  6. Josh–Your Longreads piece deserves to be read by every university president, athletic director, etc. Brilliant, heart-breakingly honest and w/o a trace of self-pity. I’m a former newspaper reporter who took a buyout when I concluded the $9-million-a-year CEO had no incentive to cease the relentless cutting, layoffs. Was offered adjunct job and did the basic math. No thank you. What made my decisions possible? My husband is a well-paid lawyer.
    Keep writing.

  7. Must agree with ken, above. I think Josh does a disservice to the academy to describe this as somehow symptomatic of academia. This story is more a case of an individual following bad advice from a undergraduate mentor and a number of very poorly thought out financial decisions.

    Would we be as sympathetic if Josh took out 200k to go to a midlevel law school, specialized in a not very lucrative area of law, and then wrote about his difficulties coping on a $100,000 salary in a major metropolitan area.

    $52,000 is a very good salary in Bangor. The problem here is his decision to take on almost $50,000 in credit card debt and finance most of a PhD program with student loans–something nearly everyone tells you NOT to do.

  8. Josh, dude you chose poorly. You may have a Phd but you are an idiot in the sense that you bought the tripe of never ending education for the sake of education by professors who are paid to keep the circus going. Amateur race car drivers call it the “Red Mist” and it involves the suspension of disbelief that yeah I can make it around the track one more time on just three wheels. There’s a book titled “Fast Guys, Rich Guys and Idiots.” You should read it. It will help you the next time a phase of education strikes.

  9. I know my opinion in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant however I do want to propose to all critics of Josh’s new piece that criticism is never about the person you criticise. The fact that Josh gets 98% positive feedback in and of itself means he has accomplished something. If he has enlightened or helped even one person out there that means he is doing something right. That means he is worth something. Maybe even worth more than someone writing nasty comments for the simple reason of feeling inadequate themselves or reveling in other’s misfortune. Personally, I liked the piece. The story is honest and relatable. It is thought-provoking and elegant. Shot in the arm… The metaphor is simple yet effective, (DFW anyone?). I hope there is more to come.

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