I have a little TINY SHRINER contribution here, all links on the job market, for the many of us who find ourselves caught up in the hunt. From Wormtalk and Slugspeak we get the (hilarious) complaint that the MLA interview process and the processes of culling that lead to it "probably could not be worse if you hired Dr. Evil, Stanley Fish, Newt Gingrich, Sideshow Bob and Stalin to put together a process that is simultaneously bureaucratic and subject to the whims of insane people, tedious and capricious, utterly stressful and incredibly boring." The Ancrene Wiseass declares, contra conventional wisdom, "using clothes and jewelry as props to help you pretend to be someone you're not in a job interview is a very bad idea." Given my resistance to getting a "real" hair cut for MLA (i.e., one not done in haste in my own bathroom, straining somehow to get the back of my head right without lopping off an ear), I'm highly sympathetic. Jodi Dean offers hints in poisoning your chances: wearing sweatpants to your job talk (I suppose this means I have to retire my tweed sweats?), and this, too, "Answer[ing] questions during the office interviews with one word. This makes you seem mysterious. When asked about your research agenda, stare blankly at your interlocutor. If pressed, talk only about your dissertation until your interlocutor falls asleep." Oso Raro, at Slaves of Academe appalls me (with his details) and thrills me (with his style) about the job hunt, one of a set,
"The Voluptuous Horror of the Academic Job Market (Part One): The Beauty Secrets of Searching," where he describes the "racism, colorism, potential GLBT issues, as well as plain old unpleasant revelation of fear and intolerance" that's (apparently) all too common in the hiring process and suggests that certain offers should be met by "pack[ing] it up now and open[ing] a hot dog stand in Finland, cause dollface, you will be eaten ALIVE!" On a related note, Slouching Towards Extimacy likens the acculturation to the academy to boot camp, which I imagine rings true especially for anyone (like me) who's the first member of their family to go to college:
We are willing to undergo an incredibly lengthy, often alienating and disorienting, and sometimes very mysterious process of 'professionalization' to get into that office behind closed doors in 'the academy,' and while it’s true that we don’t have to do pushups or shoot anyone, it’s also true that we are willing to pay a significant amount of money for the privilege. And we may very learn that we can, in fact, put up with just about anything in order to hang onto our developing senses of professional identity.I'm sure there are tens if not hundreds of other guides to and stories of the market and becoming an academic: I encourage our readers to throw up a few more links, and share their own stories, below.
Here I am in the present, with a few of my worst moments from last year. If I remember correctly, one school wanted someone who covered England 900-1300. That's the job for me! I do trilingual England. Well, they wanted, as became apparent only during the interview, an Old English person, and they found it merely a lagniappe that I did French. Nowhere in my material did I lie by claiming any ability in Old English, but, well, I faked it in front of a committee of, I kid you not, 10 people. "How would you teach Old English?" "Oh, well...I'd start with the riddles and work my way toward longer pieces" (thinking, too obviously, so I could have time to learn the goddamn language). "We have a very strong interest in Old English here. It's a year-long course." "Huh. Wow. Seriously?"
At another interview, I talked about a class in Warriors (!) I wanted to teach that would run from, oh, the Aeneid to Coriolanus. The Early Modernist in the room got a bit excited because he just loves the play. Me too, I gush, and I burst with my favorite line in it: "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!" I may have added an extra "kill." Or two. No doubt my slavering red-faced excitement helped me lose the job.
Someone elsewhere asked me how I'd teach the hunting scene in SGGK, because, you know, I'm an expert on animals. Now that I've finally taught it, I know, but then, I just mumbled something about Dinshaw and just waited to slip away. At another, they spoke of the community service component of tenure, and all I could offer was my work on the grad student union at Columbia and, er, this blog, because ITM saves the world. !!
Your turn if you want it.