Paul Jay did his undergraduate work at UCLA and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his MA in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD in literature in 1980 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has taught at Caltech, Emory University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the faculty in Loyola’s English department since 1985. From 2000-2002 he served as President of Loyola's Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He served as Chair of Loyola's Committee on Faculty Appointments from 2002-2003, and as Chair of the Faculty Affairs University Policy Committee from 2003-2004. He also served the English Department as Graduate Programs Director from 1990-1994, and as Assistant Chair from 1996-1999. In 1998 he was chosen as Graduate Faculty Member of the Year.
Professor Jay’s areas of academic specialization include modern and contemporary literature and theory, cultural theory, visual culture, the relationship between literature and globalization, and the future of the humanities in twenty-first century higher education . His books include Being in the Text: Self-Representation from Wordsworth to Roland Barthes (Cornell, 1984), The Selected Correspondence of Kenneth Burke and Malcolm Cowley (Viking, 1998, nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in biography), Contingency Blues: The Search for Foundations in American Criticism (U. of Wisconsin Press, 1997), and Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies (Cornell UP, 2010). His essays on literary and cultural theory, modern and contemporary literature, globalization, and border studies have appeared in academic journals including PMLA, Callaloo, Cultural Critique, and Modern Fiction Studies. His interview with the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Junot Diaz appeared in March of 2008 in In These Times.
His most recent work has focused on debates about the future of the humanities in higher education. He has just completed a new book on the subject entitled You’re Majoring in What? The Future of the Humanities in the Age of the Corporate University. His article on how best to defend the value of the humanities in debates about higher education, “The Fear of Being Useful,” (co-authored with Gerald Graff), appeared in the January 5, 2012 issue of Inside Higher Education. On May 1 he appeared on the Telly Award winning TV program, Higher Education Today, to discuss the future of graduate study in the humanities. Professor Jay is also the editor of The Future of the Humanities: A Think Tank, where he writes about the future of the humanities.