Dead Poets' Society: Teaching, Publish-or-Perish, and Professors' Experiences of Authenticity
Within social psychology, the concept of authenticity of the self has traditionally suffered from lack of definitional clarity. In this article, after conceptualizing authenticity as the phenomenological emotional experience of feeling true to one's self, the author empirically examines the diversity of emotions associated with various degrees of authenticity and inauthenticity. Data for this study are from semi-structured in-depth interviews with forty-six faculty members employed at a public research university in the United States. Professors' experiences of and dispositions toward teaching, and their experiences of authenticity and inauthenticity, are examined against the background of structural and cultural forces and changes in American higher education. Data interpretation shows that teaching is mostly a source of authenticity for professors in the humanities, and less for those professors who identify themselves primarily as researchers.