Rate the JIL, Sept. 20 List

Well, the good news is that there were indeed “more jobs” added this week–but the hilarious/bad news is that by “more” I mean “three.” I don’t mean to belabor the issue, but…this market is hardly even worth it. If I were you, I’d use this year to get my teaching credential or an MBA. But, you poor doomed intellectuals, if I were like you, just about to finish my dissertation, or it were my second year out instead of my fourth, I might still be living my days enshrouded in the delusion that one of the now-fourteen Assistant Professor jobs out there might just be for me. Here’s how this week’s paltry offering of searches appears before my cynical oracle countenance:

Georgetown, Applied Linguistics/SLA. In which I and every other idiot who decided to pursue literature smacks our collective forehead, wondering: why in the everloving fuck didn’t we do applied linguistics/SLA, the STEM of German? Soon the only foreign-language jobs left in the United States will be linguistics/SLA (which stands for Second Language Acquisition). And you know what the worst part is? My hands-down favorite course in graduate school was SLA. It turns out that I like Social Sciences. I could have done my PhD in Sociology and actually had a job market! I COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. Why do you taunt me with your awesome-sounding jobs, SLA? For ’tis a known fact that SLA has far fewer raging psychopath egomaniacs than literature does, and getting hired as a pedagogue, while still traumatic, is not as traumatic simply because the FULLPROFs attempting to rip you to shreds don’t actually have the first fucking clue what your research is about (although Lord knows they could use a pedagogical pick-me-up). If I were an employable SLA specialist, and I got this job, I could chill with my friends Nate and Lahela all the time, and live in DC, and when people asked where I lived and I said, “DC,” they’d nod appreciatively, instead of now, when they ask where I live and I say, “St. Louis,” and they ask, “Is that in Kansas?” and then they ask “Why?” Which is the question I’m currently asking myself. Why didn’t I go into SLA? WHY? Just because I didn’t know what it was, I mean, that’s no excuse. Also, I hate teaching grammar and generally just say I’m going to do it and then don’t really do it. Ad Grade: F, for reminding me of my poor life choices.

Old Dominion University. “Expertise in one of the following fields would be advantageous: Jewish Studies; Cinema Studies; Women’s Studies; Second Language Acquisition.” Oh hi, we’re a search committee of four people who hate each other and can’t agree on what we want, so we just put them all down here, and as a result we will just hire the Schiller scholar with the fanciest-looking pedigree, who we also think will actually stay in Nofolk, VA even after the market rebounds. Since the market will never rebound, we will have an excellent selection. But, you know, ignore those four categories, because fuck it. Job Ad Grade: C, for exemplifying the average search-committee harmony.

Princeton, pre-1890. I wonder which of their own PhDs they’ll hire. Ad Grade: “Amusing that you are under the mistaken impression that you have the authority to pass judgment upon us, Pleb. Now eat the dirt off our shoes.”

14 thoughts on “Rate the JIL, Sept. 20 List

  1. I had the worst interview of my life with Georgetown and now I can’t see the place named without shuddering. If I may, here are just two small stories from that horrifying interview:


    It was very obvious they had no interest in hiring me from the start. In fact, at the very beginning of the interview I was told that the specialist in my field I was hoping would be there wasn’t going to come because she had to be at a more important interview taking place at the same time. They actually said “a more important interview.” Why they still felt the need to torture me for an hour is a mystery.

    I just needed to share this.


    • AMAZING(ly depressing). In my “Demystifying the Interview” column for Vitae (which will go up right around MLA), I am going to spend a lot of time reminding people that even the most odious search committee member is but a fallible human with emotions and prone to poor word choice/decision making. I’m sure those assholes aren’t 100% bad people, but they could certainly have stood to be reminded of their humanity a few times that day. I’m only bummed I’m off the market/ineligible for that job/the market is so bad it doesn’t matter anyway, because I love DC.


  2. Princeton hired Joel Lande for their tenure track job last year, but he still has a fellowship through the Society of Fellows for one more year. They hired Michael Saman as a lecturer after Christiane Frey defected to NYU.


  3. Don’t worry, social scientists don’t have great job prospects either, with the exception of economists (seen as the only “useful” social science because $$$ is the measure of all worth), and sociologists, but only those who would like a career of teaching introduction to criminal justice at small branch campuses of far-flung state schools forever. And STEM job prospects in academia are rough right now because most fields require research postdocs and track records of grant funding, and with NSF having to chop its budget and prepare for government shutdowns, there isn’t as much money to go around as there used to be. (Just got a hint of the “if only I’d made better decisions!” logic behind the humor, and needed to pop in and say, “nope, still looks structural, we’re all in this together.)


  4. You’re a lady and a scholar! Thanks for your blog.

    I’ve been coming across ads on The Chronicle and Higher Ed Jobs that are for INSTRUCTOR positions — as in, never gonna teach beyond lower-intermediate-level language, ever — that are saying “PhD preferred” … UC-Boulder has one out that says they prefer a PhD AND *5* years of experience, for a salary of — ready for it? — $40,000/year!!! What are your thoughts on these ads? Texas A&M has a similar one out, as does Virginia Tech.


      • It’s sad, really. The person who gets that job will have spent 10-15 years getting their education, and will certainly have substantial teaching experience — perhaps even across the entire discipline — but will be teaching only elementary and intermediate language. I might add that it will almost inevitably be a native German, since obviously Americans have zero talent for language or language teaching. So I hope no non-native Germans bother applying for this position.

        The lucky person who does get the position? They’ll have no time to do research, and if they do, they’ll find themselves under review because they’re obviously not taking their teaching job seriously enough. Tenure will never be an option for them, nor will promotion from within, and after a year or two in that position, they’ll never again be an attractive candidate for a tenure-track job. Ten years of dedicated and meritorious service later, and they’ll be on 45k/year, living in one of the most expensive college towns in the country. And then, when Prof X retires, they’ll be looking for a qualified assistant professor, but it won’t be the person already under their noses. That person will know the department inside and out, and might even have published a few good things. But no. Not them. It will be another Harvard or Madison or WUSTL grad, someone with a pedigree, and reasonably fresh out of grad school. And since the department has probably been told to trim the fat if they want to hire that sparkly new assistant professor, guess whose non-tenure-track job will be eliminated first …

        For my education and experience, I think I would be better off finding something else I enjoy doing which will allow me to move up through the ranks.


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