I don’t think you’ve been able to tell, but since Saturday I’ve been blogging from an undisclosed location in the Rocky Mountains on a little mid-holiday vacation from my holiday vacation. (Hint: think vapor caves and hot springs, not snowboarding and skiing.) There are a number of bloggers and academic opinionators out there writing about MLA, so herewith is a little roundup for y’all. Enjoy, all you dudes and greenhorns! Don’t say we didn’t warn ya.
- Via Inside Higher Ed, MLA will release a new survey of mid-career professionals, and it will report that women spend 1.5 hours per week more on grading, while men spend 2 hours more per week on research. “Many women reported feeling hostility from many of their colleagues and a lack of support in research, even as many departments value it over teaching. This raises the potentially troubling question, she said, of whether women value teaching for the “magic” of the classroom or because “teaching can be a kind of refuge” in that the classroom is the place where women (and men) have the most control over their professional decisions.”
Historiann respectfully disagrees. At least in my experience, research is the only area in which I have near complete control–not in the classroom, where someone else designed the rooms, and someone else determines the number of students and the number of courses we teach. Although I dig the gender politics here, I disagree with “Joycelyn K. Moody, the Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio,” who “said that what most troubled her about the responses was that women reported feeling shame about their interest and success in teaching. Women should be feeling pride in their success as teachers, she said, but are ‘perceiving themselves as performing below expectations,’ because they aren’t doing more research. It’s time to ‘dismantle those institutional values,’ Moody said, so that the shame disappears.” At research universities, I think it’s A-OK to value research more than teaching. It’s what makes our work qualitatively different from teaching high school or community college. Research is part of the job. It’s why we have lower teaching loads than people at CCs or secondary school teachers. If you’re at a research university, find a way to turn those grading hours into research time, ladies!
- RYS posts another report from the field from “Schenectady Skeptinautika,” who writes that she “plan[s] on making extensive use of the hot tub, anyway. Can we say last-minute bikini purchase to combat the pre-interview jitters? I wonder if alcohol’s allowed in the pool area…” I like her style! She’s so right to complain about the lack of free wifi: “And now for the obligatory hating on the hotel: I have to *pay* for wifi?!? SERIOUSLY?!? (I’m stealing a signal now.) You mean my $400 wasn’t enough to get me access to a weak-ass Internet signal? Lame, Marriott. LAME, forcing me to go off in search of unprotected signals to poach.” Even deep in the snowy Rockies in a late nineteenth-century hotel near a giant steaming hot spring, we’ve got the free wifi, friends.
- Bing McGhandi from Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes reports on his first MLA job interview this year: “The interview was touch-and-go. Some questions I knocked out of the park. Other ones haunt me still. The funny thing is that I hit it off with a cute waitress at the coffee stand while I waited, and while we were talking, I thought I recognized a couple of the faces of a few patrons. It turns out that they were the people who were going to interview me. Yikes! I thought that they were, but, you know, tried to play it cool. I don’t think that will have any influence on the outcome.” It sounds like you’re overanalyzing it, Bing–if it’s meant to be, you’ll hear from that search committee again. There is so much that’s not in a job candidate’s control–and the cute waitress probably took your mind off of the interview for a few of those anxiety-ridden minutes, right? (You didn’t ask to borrow the search chair’s Chapstik, did you?)
- Finally, Inside Higher Ed has a new blog strictly for reporting on the MLA, “Intellectual Affairs.” (Do I hear a double-entendre? Wev. They liked my advice about not asking to borrow Chapstik during an interview.)