Well, friends, the MLA Jobs Information List has sputtered to semi-life this year, and the grand total for beginning (OR open rank, gah) tenure-track positions in German studies is…
That wasn’t a typo-riddled ellipse, it was Morse code for how many jobs there are.
eight nine. 9. Single digits. This is utter carnage.
I’m honestly too depressed by the death of what I still believe to be a worthy and good discipline to be glad I’m not out there fighting for one of those
eight nine anymore. “But lots more will be added in the coming weeks!” Uh, only if this year is a complete statistical anomaly. According to the largely-infallible Adjunct Nate, a reliable indicator of the total TT jobs at the end of the season is, give or take a few jobs, the first-day offering x 1.75. Last year’s first-day offering was eleven and the season-end offering was in the mid-20s, so sometimes (if the numbers are so small to begin with) it is closer to 2 or 2.5, but let’s say that this year is a complete statistical freakshow and we end up with — as (back me up Adjunct Nate) has never happened before — three times the initial offering, that will still be a heartbreakingly paltry 24 jobs, which is about 1/3 as many as there should be on the first day to indicate a healthy market.
The discipline of German studies is in the final throes of asphyxiation. It’s shot itself in the head from heartbreak and, being that it shot itself with an 18th-century musket, will take a few more excruciating days to die fully. It’s drowned itself in a pond. It’s sentenced itself to death and jumped off a bridge. If you get any of the allusions I just used, that means you have read Goethe and Kafka, and (as such) should be as heartbroken as I to see one of the most interesting disciplines in the world — one with a complex and at times wrenching history, but never a boring one — die in the United States. In future weeks, depending on how maudlin I feel, I may write a multi-part elegy for German Studies, wherein I explain what makes it special and why it’s so sad it’s dying. But for now, let’s look at the sad lack-of jobs. Just to have some more to talk about, I’m going to expand to the NTT jobs as well (also, to chastise them, as I said I would, for advertising on the first-day JIL like they’re somebody — YOU AIN’T SOMEBODY). Looks like Rate My JIL this year is going to be a bare-bones affair. Trust me, I wish it were not this way. Not just because I’d have more fodder, but because I want you all to get jobs. I really do.
All right. First of all, the You Should Not Have Advertised Your NTT Job Here crowd:
- Amherst. Lecturer. Seems like a perfectly nice job — sort of what we want adjunct jobs turned into (full-time, multi-year, benefits, etc). A perfectly nice job, that is, to be advertising in February and interviewing over Skype. “The Search Committee will conduct Skype interviews of select applicants in December, before interviewing top candidates at the MLA convention in Vancouver in January.” Thumbs down. This job will, by the way, go to a native speaker of German. You think the parents of Amherst students will stand for anything else for little Ashysson Glouchester Brixton?
- Baylor. “Regular Lecturer in German.” This being Baylor, I assume by “regular” they mean heterosexual. In their defense, they’re not interviewing at MLA. However, this might be because they believe that crossing the border into Canada will infect them with Satan.
- Dartmouth. “German Language Program Director (Senior Lecturer/Research Assistant Professor).” In their defense, I don’t even know what the fuck kind of job this is. Maybe this is how you fudge an almost-tenure line when the admin won’t give you one? I don’t know. I just hope the faculty initiation process at Dartmouth is a little less invasive (and a little less bodily-fluid centered) than the frat initiation process.
- Duke. “Thompson Writing Program Lecturing Fellow.” Oh, you lacrosse-playing motherfuckers get the serious booby prize for having the cojones to list, on the FIRST DAY of the JIL, in a discipline that is far and wide from composition, a freshman fucking composition glamour-adjuncting job. You have GOT to be fucking kidding me. To be fair, this year’s Germanists won’t be too terribly busy, what with so few applications to send out, so why not spend 35 extra hours putting together an entirely new course just for them based solely on their precious little guidelines? The best part of this ad is that Duke “anticipates” several “postdoctoral” positions — even these non-tenure-line glamour-adjuncting piece-of-shit jobs might be killed by the admin. Priceless.
- Penn State. Lecturer. AGAIN. I applied for this job like three years ago and I was a finalist for it! And the search was cancelled! AND I’m going to see all the people who interviewed me for it in like two days when I give a talk at Penn State’s “Alt-Ac” conference — at which point I can chastise them TO THEIR FACES for advertising their NTT job on the first day of the JIL. To be fair to them, they aren’t going to drag anyone to Canada to interview for it. But still. Come on, guys — you can’t wait until at least the October list for this?
Now, the moment you’ve all been not at all waiting for. Here are the first TT assistant professor jobs in German this year. I excluded comparatists (because PLEASE), other extradisciplinary stuff and Medievalists — oh wait THER ARE ZERO JOBS FOR MEDIEVALISTS THIS YEAR, so I didn’t even have to. *Sob* All right, here goes. So, general thoughts. The “good news” is that all
eight nine of these jobs are in primo locations where a whole family can move really happily. The bad news is “all eight nine.”
- Boston College. There is no specialization listed in this ad. Reading through the ad, in fact, I see several indicators as to why, the clearest being this: “build our growing business German offerings.” There’s no specialization listed because the person who wrote said ad probably doesn’t even know what people who teach German might specialize in. Ye, it is my hunch that this ad was written damn near 100% by some sort of Executive Vice Dean, and that this search is being highly micromanaged by a “business-friendly” (i.e. humanities-averse) administration. Just a hunch. Don’t yell at me. Also, if a search committee wrote this ad, I commend you people on your corporate-speak because that is just classic. Grade: “A” — for Administration.
- MIT, “contemporary German studies.” Again, this appears to be 100% written by an administrator or HR person, as that’s not usually the parlance one would use to describe any sort of scholarship a Germanist actually does. An almost-pro to this ad is “Preference will be given to candidates with two years of academic teaching experience at the college or university level.” If they’d only said “five,” then that would send a clear message that they will not be discriminating against adjuncts and VAPs. But at least they seem to care about experience at all. I’ll give it a solid B+, though it might be quite a thing to teach in one of the few humanities programs in the most powerful tech school in the world. You will get bragging rights over Harvard, though — and still be allowed in to their precious fortress of a library.
- Portland State, no specialization. In fact, this person should show expertise in “film, language, literature, culture and language pedagogy,” i.e. be anyone who has a PhD in German. If I were still on the market I’d be collapsing into tears of pre-disappointment anguish and desire, as this is the first such job in Portland that has appeared on the JIL in the entire time I have been in the discipline (or out of it) — that’s eleven years. If the person who gets this job complains about the weather in Oregon for even a fucking minute, that should be immediate grounds for termination. [UPDATE: I forgot about that job at Reed a few years back. Reed had this one dean that everyone hated and it made it the worst place to interview for AND work for, so I must have blocked it out. Second. The second such job in eleven years. There might have been something at Lewis & Clark recently too, so, third? My trauma blocks, they are strong.]
- Saint Olaf College, no specialization (again!). Even this job, in frigid-ass Northfield, MN, is close enough to the Twin Cities that someone’s spouse could manage something. Howevs. This is a repeat of a search from a few years ago, so something’s up at Saint Olaf. Not sure what. A huge Germanics boom in rural Minnesota? Someone left? A search got cancelled? Only Rose from the Golden Girls knows for sure. This ad still looks like it was written by a dean. I haven’t seen, like, any evidence of actual German scholars being involved on the German JIL yet. What gives?
- CU-Boulder. Post 1750. This is definitely one of the most perplexing programs in the country. They have a Kafka specialist who only publishes in Italian.They just started a new PhD program a few years ago. For graduates to do what, I might ask? This is also their second TT hire in three years, and their last one did hire someone (a friend of mine, actually! Nice guy!), so either someone left or died, or some admin is actually letting their program grow. Way to be, Colorado. Of course, whoever gets this job needs to stay the everloving fuck away from the philosophy department, and watch out for Title IX and Clery violations up the wazoo. Also, insider’s tip: Last time they listed a bunch of “preferred” specialties in their ad (just like now) and then went and hired a guy who did none of those things, so just go for it. I actually have an insider I’m rooting for in this sitch TBH, because I know everyone and everyone knows me.
- University of Michigan, “cross-cultural inquiries such as migration and diaspora studies, ethnic and minority studies, or transnational and comparative studies.” The sole marquis R-1 job in this crop. They will aim very high and since the pickins are so plentiful, they will get it. Elitism will reign. Princeton or nobody. [UPDATE:
This has been pegged as an obvious inside hire sham search. Waste your time applying at your own risk.DOUBLE UPDATE: I have some conflicting info on this now that insists it's a "real job," but again, it's really the only marquis job this year so far, so if you aren't the elitist of the elite, I still wouldn't bother. Plus these days R1 admins all think they're Ivies, and deny everyone tenure anyway (ABOVE the desires of departments, just so we're clear), so it could be a bloodbath, too. I don't know. You might as well apply just because you have so few jobs to apply to anyway. Sigh.]
- U of New Hampshire, no specialization (AGAIN!). This is just the sort of job I really would have wanted back in the day. Not a super cutthroat top-tier super R-1 grad-program bloodlust department, but researchy enough that I wouldn’t be stuck teaching 101 for the rest of my life. Plus, it’s in a goddamned idyll. No complaints here — I just wish this JIL had about 30 more jobs listed exactly like this one, so that anyone out there had even half a fighting chance. This job’s going to be overrun with like 400 applications and they’ll end up doing what I used to do when I lived in New York and went into bodegas hungry and was just so overwhelmed by choices that I’d freeze up and just walk out with some Combos and a Mr. Pibb.
- University of Washington, “late Eighteenth-, Nineteenth-, or Early Twentieth-Century German Literature and Culture.” Another PacNW job. 2011 me just had a full aneurysm. Slightly lower profile than Michigan but still one of the very few marquis jobs this year. Princeton or nobody.
- UPDATE: Williams, 18th C to present, “significant language teaching experience.” Nice, Williams! This means that Williams is not completely averse to hiring an adjunct. Hire an adjunct, Williams! Be the only one on this list to do it! You can do it!
All right–so, there you have it. If you can even read it through the cloying pall, the veritable funeral shroud for an entire discipline. RIP German. We hardly knew ye.