Comments on: Black Friday blogging: agony column updates http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 28 Sep 2014 05:09:30 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-137147 Sun, 30 Nov 2008 19:22:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-137147 Hi, Rad–it’s been a while! Welcome back. That’s some distressing news from your college. But, I suppose it’s better to be prudent with new hires than to have to consider cashiering new faculty you’ve already hired.

And Rose–I’ll keep updating on Tenured Tammy’s situation. I get the sense that the attention and interest of the Provost at her university is an unexpected and very welcome new development.

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By: Rose http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-137012 Sun, 30 Nov 2008 12:42:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-137012 Excellent news for Tenured Tammy! I hope she’ll keep us posted about the progress on this front. Regardless of how it turns out, it’s heartening to know that some administrators consider quality of life issues important.

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By: Rad Readr http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136618 Sun, 30 Nov 2008 04:38:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136618 Hi Historiann and co. I have been swamped (bet you have also) and haven’t visited lately. In any case…the School of Humanities at my u, which has hired about 12-15 new faculty a year for some time, recently cut our searches this year from 9 to 4. Unfortunately, they had been advertised already. This was painful for us, but (of course) worse for applicants. (When I was on the job market in 97, one university canceled a search after they had bought me a ticket for a campus visit.) The job market in California affects the rest of the country, so I think this will be a tough one.

In terms of search committees, Dr. Crazy hit it on some of the reasons for the make-up of committees. But I also think Candy Man is onto something: departmental conditions can affect who is in and who is out.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136177 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 18:19:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136177 Candy Man, thanks for the clarification. If I were of a conspiritorial frame of mind, I’d think that the people who muscled their way onto the committee ahead of more qualified colleagues were bent on setting the search up to fail. I know some people teach at rich institutions and in large departments that always get whatever they want from their deans, but there aren’t that many departments like that left, are there? My sense is that departments that mess up searches repeatedly stop getting lines to search. (If there’s any justice in the world, that’s what would happen!)

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By: Candy Man http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136165 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 17:35:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136165 Yes, Dr. Crazy is right; sorry for the vague comment! I would understand about other obligations, etc., but in two of the departments I’m thinking of I have friends in my period-field who would have been very happy to be on the search committee but were pointedly not invited. You’re right about applicants needing to spell out clearly the relevance of their work. Still, something odd is afoot, and those friends not invited to serve on the search committees are justifiably outraged at the choices their colleagues have made.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136154 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 15:43:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136154 Dr. Crazy, your reading is clearly the correct one! I misunderstood it. I think your explanation for why people far from the intradisciplinary field of specialization is right, too–there are always a lot of people who are on leave, or they’re chairing other major committees & so can’t serve on the search committee, etc. Of course, as a candidate for a job in X department where the person whose work is closest to yours is not on the search committee, one should try to suss out why this is. It will probably be due to rational reasons, but it may be due to the fact that the faculty member in question is a terrible malcontent, or untrustworthy in fundamental ways, etc.

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By: Dr. Crazy http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136139 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 15:07:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136139 I took Candy Man’s comment to be about field of specialization within the discipline and not about having search committees comprised of faculty outside the discipline, i.e., that the search committee for, say, a hire in Early American specialist, in a department where there are Early Americanists on the faculty, is made up of, say, an Early Modern person, a Victorianist, a 19th century Americanist, a Contemporary poetry person, and a Postcolonial person.

My answer to that is that it may be that those people who seem most qualified are a) on sabbatical, b) served on search committees outside their field of specialization most recently and so were due for a year off, and/or c) have other current service obligations that are taking precedence over serving on (or chairing) a search committee (like serving on the university-wide tenure committee, faculty senate, or serving in some administrative post).

In my department I know that we try to have at least one person who works in the advertised field on the committee, but that doesn’t always work out. I suppose at the end of the day, though, this goes toward the very good advice that candidates need to make sure that they are good at communicating the value of their work even to non-specialists, especially in early rounds of the job search, although this comes into play even more crucially when one gets to the campus visit stage (an entire dept. and sometimes outside folks will attend job talks and weigh in on them – it’s not enough to have people within the field get what you do).

That said, if I read that wrong, and Candy Man is talking about search committees made up of people outside of the discipline of the hire, then I have no clue what’s up there. Sounds very strange.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-136116 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 14:38:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-136116 Candy Man–how weird. I haven’t heard this, and it’s certainly not the practice in History departments. Usually, English is the largest department in any lib arts college, so I don’t know why any English department would want their applicants screened by historians, anthropologists, political scientists, etc. Let’s hope this is a short-lived fad. (Is staffing the search committee a booby prize that goes to departments who didn’t get lines to search this year? I can’t figure it out.)

K.N.–I’m sorry to hear you’ve been pre-jected from two jobs already (although it’s clearly nothing personal.) Thanks for the heads-up on San Diego and N.O. I might not feel so bad about being roped into a search committee next year if I could go to San Diego in January…!

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By: K.N. http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-135703 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 02:44:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-135703 Two of the six jobs I’ve applied for have already sent notices canceling their searches due to budgetary constraints. It is shaping up to be a bleak interview season. I’ll be attending the AHA in NYC, but only because I’m a 90-minute bus ride away and don’t have to foot a hotel bill for three days.

Historiann, I’m in total agreement regarding meeting places. The AHA is branching out somewhat in the coming years: 2010 is in San Diego, and 2013 is in New Orleans. Of course, the usual suspects of Boston, Chicago, and DC are in the mix as well. I’m sure the AHA gets an off-season deal for meeting north of the Mason-Dixon in the dead of winter, but given the importance of the conference, it strikes me that we can do better. The question is, would we be willing to pay higher registration fees for warmer sites? Or could we think of a different time of year? This is taboo, I know–it would upset the entire apple cart of job searches. But somehow other disciplines fill their faculty lines just fine without schlepping through ice and snow during the first weekend in January.

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By: Candy Man http://www.historiann.com/2008/11/28/black-friday-blogging-agony-column-updates/comment-page-1/#comment-135520 Sat, 29 Nov 2008 00:46:08 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=2088#comment-135520 I think this job season is just making everyone a bit loony. I’m not on the market, but several friends are, and they’re all having terrible times of it. What most baffles me are the handful of departments — all English literature programs of good stature — who are hiring in my field and have put together search committees comprised entirely of faculty in OTHER fields (and not because they lack the appropriate faculty). I just don’t get it, and seeing my friends all fail to get MLA interviews, I can’t help but think part of the reason behind the rejections is that these committees just don’t know what innovative work in my field might look like. Is this common? I don’t remember it happening when I went on the market some five years ago.

Anyway, I for one am relieved not to be going to San Francisco, much as I love the city. MLA is bound to be a complete sharks’ nest this time around.

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