Comments on: Lucky Louie wins a fellowship but wants more, oh so much more http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:16:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-289592 Thu, 16 Apr 2009 00:58:20 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-289592 Well, that’s a mighty strange postdoc that would make a lecturership look good. It seems like a transparent bid to hire cheap labor, in fact.

Odd.

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By: Sisyphus http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-289562 Thu, 16 Apr 2009 00:25:22 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-289562 … there’s a 4-4 “postdoc fellowship” at Georgia or Georgia tech, I believe, that involves teaching a class on your research and 3 different “business writing” classes each semester. I don’t understand how anyone gets anything published on it. Or why digital humanities people would willingly go teach classes all about writing business memos.

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By: JJO http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-289138 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 15:44:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-289138 I agree that there are circumstances under which the lectureship might be preferable — a combination of just how prestigious the fellowship is, how much teaching it requires, and possibilities for renewal/extension over multiple years.

Although I read the description of the lectureship as meaning a reduced teaching load compared to Louie’s current position, I agree with Sisyphus and Flavia that a heavy teaching load masquerading as a fellowship is a far different proposition from a real fellowship. (And also consider the number of preps — it might seem like more fun and prestige to teach specialized, upper-level courses than a survey, but if it’s four different upper level courses over the course of a year versus four sections of the survey, you’re going to be devoting a lot more time and energy to teaching.) As Sisyphus points out with the Stanford example, the prestige of the fellowship itself, not just the institution, matters a lot.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-289075 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 14:34:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-289075 It would be a strange fellowship that required more teaching than a lecturership–but I suppose stranger things have happened. Maybe Louie’s comment about “a reduced teaching load” was in reference to his current position? I looked up the fellowship he was offered, and it looks pretty de-luxe, and not at all like a scam for buying a lot of cheap labor. (It’s not in my field, though, so I don’t have any intel that’s not on the program’s website, so I could be completely wrong!)

Postdocs were originally designed to offer their recipients an opportunity to teach their own classes, so as to buff that side of the resume in addition to providing support and time for research. This seems like a rather antiquated model of a postdoctoral fellowship, however, since I think it’s extremely unusual for people to have insufficient teaching experience these days. (Most of us have to adjunct or do VAPs for at least a few years before getting a tenure-track job, and many ABDs teach their own courses in their Ph.D.-granting departments.) Then again, teaching one or two classes a year is a small price to pay for a fellowship, if that permits the sponsoring institution the leeway to continue funding the fellowships.

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By: Flavia http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288582 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 03:51:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288582 I agree with Shane and Sisyphus that this does not seem a clear case of a more-prestigious, lighter-load post-doc versus a lectureship; indeed, from the wording I assumed that the bird-not-in-hand involved both more money AND less teaching than the post-doc. And like Sisyphus, unless the post-doc is very prestigious (which in the humanities usually means more money, and this isn’t a lot of money), I’m not sure there’s any difference between having “post-doctoral fellowship” and “lecturer” or “visiting assistant professor” on one’s C.V.

Louie should absolutely not give up a sure thing for the mere hope of something better, and money isn’t everything. But unless the post-doc is affiliated with an institution that has high name-recognition AND a lighter teaching load, I see why Louie is anxious not to act too quickly.

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By: Sisyphus http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288561 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 03:22:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288561 Hmm, when I first read this post I thought the person had multiple fellowship offers (and was feeling sorry for myself.) But now, on re-reading it, I notice that it is a “teaching postdoc fellowship.” Hmm. The differences between a “teaching postdoc,” a “postdoc” (in the humanities) a “lecturer” and an “adjunct” are actually really slippery in the humanities and I’m not quite sure if other academics rate them consistently. They all involve various levels of teaching (as opposed to the “we will hand you money” postdoctoral fellowship) and sometimes there is no objective difference between them.

I mean, heck, I’m labeled as a “postdoc” instead of a lecturer because that means I’m not part of the lecturer union and they pay me less! (at my school all of these positions have the same teaching load, different pay scales, except the adjunct is hired by the quarter and not by the year.)

I would suggest that the original poster look at the prestige and name recognition of these positions rather than the money. And if it is a standing postdoc that cycles generations of scholars in and out of it, can you find out about placement rates? Stanford I know has two “postdocs,” the IHUM and the IMAP (I forget which is the good one and which is the sucky one), and the one that is very high level of teaching at basically a TA level has _terrible_ placement rates. I know quite a few people who got extended a for a second “tour” and still never landed any interviews after 6 years. The other one requires no teaching. So prestige is good, but also see if you can winkle out some placement information.

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By: Rad Readr http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288477 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 01:44:28 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288477 Ah, the smell of privilege. Many years ago I worked with a very prominent reporter who won a Pulitzer and had a job offer from Columbia U’s J-School. This woman had never gone to college, but she had earned a national reputation as a tough police reporter. She had a knack for getting herself behind the yellow line. In an article about her — I believe it was the NEw Yorker or some such East Coast establishment publication — they described her as “hard as nails” — not the type of journalist who takes “cushy fellowships.”

I’m not advocating taking the tough road, but i just love the beautiful contradiction — the preferred choice of fellows is a privilege that is sustained by the other job, the lecturer. Perhaps the postdoc is supported by a foundation (Ford? I believe Naomi Klein has written eloquently lately about the Ford Foundation). But if it is a postdoc at Big State U, chances are that lecturers are part of the system that sustains such funding. Of course, the tenure-track and tenured fat cats (myself included) also benefit from these types of labor differentials, for lack of a better word.

Professionally speaking, of course, good advice.

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By: Shane in Utah http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288473 Wed, 15 Apr 2009 01:42:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288473 I mostly agree with the consensus here. But one point of clarification: If I read the original question correctly, the choice is between the bird-in-the-hand of a teaching postdoc, and the possibility of a plum lecturing gig that would actually entail a lesser teaching load than the postdoc. Is that right? If the postdoc is prestigious enough, then it’s still probably the right long-term career move. But in this case, it sounds like taking the postdoc would NOT free up the research time some of you seem to be daydreaming about…

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288166 Tue, 14 Apr 2009 19:09:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288166 Thanks, Indyanna and Matt for your thoughts. Matt’s got a good point about the perks and incidentals, which might be better in a postdoc than in a lecturership. (As a fellow, you’re the star, but as a non-tenure track lecturer, not so much.)

Bear in mind, Louie, that everyone who has written to contribute their 2 cents is either an Assistant or Associate Prof., and therefore currently employed. We dream of fellowships–whereas I realize that the unemployed may envy us our regular paychecks and (in some cases) tenure.

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By: Matt L http://www.historiann.com/2009/04/14/lucky-louie-wins-a-fellowship-but-wants-more-oh-so-much-more/comment-page-1/#comment-288156 Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:53:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=4627#comment-288156 Yeah, I agree with Histroiann, JJO and company… A fellowship in hand trumps a fixed term any day. Its hard to walk away from the money, but even a one year post-doc is a far far better thing for all the reasons mentioned above: Purina-Vita-Chow; time to write/publish; limited course preps; mentoring; chances to present at Department workshops…

Speaking as someone who started out doing in a fix term lectureship at Woebegone State University, the first year of teaching full time (4/4) was hell. It will consume all of your energy and you will not get any writing done, even if you only have a 2/2. So consider the first year teaching a lost year. Also, by the time you start teaching in August or September you will have to be on the job market again: another major time suck.

In terms of money, I would just say that you’ve already been a grad student for X number of years, stretch it out a little more if you can. The fellowship might help leverage you into a better job with higher earnings. Plus, check the fine print. Some post docs come with nice perks in the form of travel money for research and conferences, a computer, money for copying, books etc. This might alleviate some of the financial burden.

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