Rate My JIL, Oct. 18

Well, Germanists, this week we have four new actual, real tenure-track jobs, bringing the 2013-2014 to a grand running total of…20. Ugh. BUT–the big difference I noticed in this week was that these are by and large normal-ass schools, in perfectly decent locations, with perfectly OK teaching loads and requirements and whatnot. These are the kind of job that your U-Wisconsin Madison and UC-Irvine grads can actually get. If I were on the market this year, my utter, chasmic despair would be turned into regular misery at the sight of these jobs. If I were on the market this year (and hadn’t publicly imploded my academic self, obviously!), these jobs would be the only places I’d get a chance of making the short list (with the exception of the first). These will be the jobs that every Normal on the market this year fights for. So…what are these beacons of hope?

Bowdoin College, 20th and 21st C. Psych, this is a highly-fancy liberal-arts college that will hire a native speaker. But, I have to tell you–Bowdoin RULES. It is the coolest place ever, so much so that I would consider (but not carry out with) the murder of everyone else on the job market so that they’d have no choice but to hire me–also, since I had already committed mass-murder, the fraud of claiming native speakership would be mild (most Germans believe I am a native German until I’ve talked for a good three minutes and made two weird errors and pronounced one word in a way they’ve never heard–and then they just assume I’m Austrian–BURN, GET IT? BECAUSE AUSTRIANS HAVE A FUNNY DIALECT AND DON’T USE GENETIVE! HAHAHA. Anyway). Midway through my freshman year at Vassar, I visited Bowdoin with my then-boyfriend Jay (shout-out to Jay and Phil, my Maine men from college!), who had a buddy there. And I was so entranced I briefly thought of trying to transfer (Bowdoin is a better school than Vassar, so, fat chance, since I had a solid 3.3 GPA at that point, largely because of my B- in History of Western Philosophy I, which ZOMG Anaximander, WHAT A SNOOZER). I spend an evening at a “frat” there, which was co-ed and non-nationally chartered, and actually a giant, half-condemned mansion (for serious, you weren’t allowed to go past the second floor), where every room was covered in murals, and their grand old living room looked like a combination between a Victorian study and a 1970s rec room–they also had an actual rec room they’d converted into a “disco,” complete with ball. It was the most wondrous place I have ever seen, and I still dream of it. Every student at Bowdoin was nice. Every building was beautiful. They have the highest student-of-color population of any SLAC in their class. This job will be incredible, and I am legitimately, wistfully jealous of whatever native German gets it.

Gettysburg College, Assistant Prof. and Visiting Assistant Prof. of German. The preferred specialty in Film in the tenure-track listing should tip you off–check their roster, and indeed you’ll find that they have a current Visiting faculty who is a (very cool-sounding) film guy. They are creating a tenure line for him, and hiring to replace him. They have to do a national search because otherwise the college wouldn’t release the line. So here’s an idea that is sure to be unpopular and ire-stoking–in this blog’s current spirit of anti-capitalism, maybe don’t apply for the TT job. Maybe understand that this guy has put in the time with the students and the department, and they like him enough to make him the clear inside hire, and that anyone who swooped in and survival-of-the-fittest’d him would actually be ruining a life. So maybe, out of solidarity or just kindness, you know, opt out of applying and save him and everyone else the trouble of going through what should be a sham search.

SUNY-Binghamton, open specialization. A very solid job, at the very best of the SUNYs. Be prepared to battle it out against established tenure-track academics for this one, because even though Binghamton, located in beautiful upstate New York, is a good 180 miles to New York City, it still “counts” as Northeast, which the Academiverse snootily and incomprehensibly believes to be superior to all other regions in terms of higher learning (this is especially funny, since besides Rutgers most of the flagships are poorly-ranked, and it’s just the hoity-toity private schools that give the area its elitist caché–look, I’m railing AGAINST geographical elitism! What are you motherfuckers who think I’m an elitist coastal bigot going to complain about now?). When this job goes to someone who is up for tenure somewhere “worse” (i.e. a better flagship in the Midwest or South) you can cackle at the thought of his or her spouse spending eight hours in the car every day. “YOU SAID THIS COMMUTE WAS DOABLE!” It’s not.

U of Cincinnati, Media, Visual, and/or Performance Studies. [This listing has been edited on 21. October, after input from the search committee chair. DOES THIS MEAN I AM FAMOUS?] This is the second UC search in the past four years, which means either that their faculty is growing like crazy, or their turnover is high (which would be a warning sign that they denied someone tenure). A check of the website (and input from the SC chair!) reveals that it’s the former, so that means they do tenure people on the reg, which is good. My friend Zan insists that Cincinnati is the greatest city in the Union, and her house is made entirely of glass and sits on a ravine and is cool (although also cold), so that bodes well; also Cincinnati has an IKEA, which is where I got all my furniture when I lived in Columbus. BUT, also, “Cincinnati Chili.” Gross. SO gross. Therefore, I object to this listing purely on the basis of chili, and you will rip my accurate assessment of said chili from my grease-covered, bloated, dead hands.

And now, my favorite of all the listings…

Murray State U (KY), Assistant Professor of German and Spanish. This cracks me the fuck up. It’s not enough to have demonstrated mastery in both the language and literature/culture of one foreign tongue (something the vast, vast majority of Americans cannot come close to doing, because it takes 5-10 years to get a PhD). Now in order to get a full-time professing job in some Harlan-county  holler (Justified forever!) you have to know two. Like nobody is noticing that this godforsaken institution is trying to hire one professor to do what should be two professors’ jobs. I NOTICED, you assholes, I noticed.

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10 thoughts on “Rate My JIL, Oct. 18

  1. Haha, I get where you’re going with this, but I’m not sure if making fun of Binghamton counts as reverse geographical elitism. I am from a much smaller town in that area and living on the literal east coast right now. Most people here who know where it is think it’s essentially the midwest (it kind of is) and would hate to move there (I’d move back in a second, except for the job thing). But some others have NO CLUE how big New York state is, which I can tell when they say things like, “you’re from around here, right?”. Sure, if “around here” has a 400 mile radius? I would hope nobody would ever, ever assume Binghamton is commutable from NYC, or a pleasant weekend drive from Boston or DC, or has any nearby, convenient, affordable airports at all.

    That said, it’s nice that they’re hiring someone for a TT position, hopefully someone who actually appreciates the location gets it.

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    1. I’m making fun of the reverse-geographical elitism of image-conscious tt faculty in the Midwest and South with inferiority complexes. Because those are soooo rampant in academe. Work at a SLAC in the middle of nowhere? You’re a nobody unless you’re at an R1. Work at an R1 but it’s not in a state touching an ocean? Oh you must be SO aghast to live in a cultural void with no opera. It’s hilarious.

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  2. Just FYI — and despite the fantastic geographic liberties taken on _Justified_ (Really, Boyd, you’re just going to pop over to Corbin for a drink?) — there are no hollers in Murray. In fact, Murray is more than 100 miles closer to St. Louis than it is to Harlan.

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  3. Long-time listener, first-time caller, comin’ at ya all the way from beautiful Brunswick, Maine!

    Now, mein Schätzchen Rebecca, I simply loooove your show, but I do feel it necessary to point out that the last T-T hire, and now newest tenured member, of the German department here at Bowdoin, is *not* a native speaker of German! Neither does she, nor her remaining colleague, for that matter, have some fancy-schmancy. all-bling-no-bounce, Ivy-league degree. I’m not on the search committee, but I am sure that this department is looking for good teaching, good scholarship, and good citizenship, country of origin and so-called pedigree be damned! So, apply! Somebody has to get the job…

    And yes, Bowdoin is a GREAT place to teach, and our German department ist SUPER! So, best wishes to all of those who throw hat in the ring.

    — Eisbär

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    1. Well, like I said, Bowdoin sounds like a dream. Here are some issues, however:

      1) I’m married to a guy who would have nothing to do in the sublimely adorable Brunswick ME besides freeze his nuts off and go Jack-Nicholoson-in-The-Shining.
      2) I am un-marketable in my present state (see: this blog, Thesis Hatement, CHE, everything).
      3) it matters not how few jobs one applies to, being On The Market is being On The Market, and brings with it a level of psychological destruction and misery and year-ruining that I have decided is not worth it.

      I do hope that whoever gets the job loves it, but the idea that “somebody” has to get it is one of my Horrible Platitudes for a reason–it offers hope where there is none, especially not for me. Give your students a big hi-five for me, especially the ones in that crazy frat!

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      1. 1) I’m married to a guy who would have nothing to do in the sublimely adorable Brunswick ME besides freeze his nuts off and go Jack-Nicholoson-in-The-Shining.
        — Fair enough. Brunswick *can* be difficult for sig others.

        2) I am un-marketable in my present state (see: this blog, Thesis Hatement, CHE, everything).
        — As much as I’d like to argue for you, and as much as I would had I any say in the matter, I feel you.

        3) it matters not how few jobs one applies to, being On The Market is being On The Market, and brings with it a level of psychological destruction and misery and year-ruining that I have decided is not worth it.
        — Agreed! I should have made it clear that I was encouraging “you” as in “you, dear reader of this text,” whoever that may be!

        I do hope that whoever gets the job loves it, but the idea that “somebody” has to get it is one of my Horrible Platitudes for a reason–it offers hope where there is none, especially not for me.
        — Agreed as well, and I certainly do not mean to get one’s hopes up. But, if one is on the market, and fits the parameters of the ad, then one should apply. It is a long shot for all, but the evidence I have pointed to here suggests that pedigree and nativity will not be prime factors in the SC’s approach. This was my main point.

        Give your students a big hi-five for me, especially the ones in that crazy frat!
        — Will do! Say hello to Dogtown for me, and hoist a Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in my general direction.

        — Eisbär

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  4. On the University of Cincinnati job posting: this is indeed the second posting in the past four years (and alas, only the second posting in the past 10 years — we have in fact been remarkably stable and I was the junior colleague for a decade!). We made an excellent hire two years ago and have convinced the dean and the provost that we that we should have the opportunity to make another one this year. We look forward to welcoming a new colleague to our program in the fall of 2014.

    You are free to your widely-held opinion on Cincinnati chili (although my kids would enthusiastically defend their beloved Skyline!) But I assure you that there is nothing “dangerous” about our job listing. It’s an absurdly crowded market and highly talented people are not getting good positions, I know. And believe me, it breaks my heart when I look at an outstanding group of applicants (so many of whom are MUCH more qualified than I was when I was hired fourteen years ago) and know that we can offer the position to only one of them.

    But we are doing what we can by offering two new positions in three years. The job market is weak not because of those programs that are hiring, but because of those that are NOT making the case for new hires.

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    1. Thank you so much for daring to come on here, Todd! You are definitely right about one thing here (and it’s not the chili. GROSS. UNACCEPTABLE. I will take your kids to the MAT on that), and that is that departments with new hires are not to blame here. My thinking was that the interpersonal dynamic of a department is a) the most important thing about it and b) almost 100% unavailable to anyone looking to join that department, and a record of a lot of searches can be bad (yes, UC Berkeley, I am talking TO YOU, O decade-long search-killers), or it can be good. But even in its good incarnation, ie yours, it makes your department harder to read, and thus harder to know what’s really going on there, which is what leads to someone being a ‘fit’ or not.

      The good news is that your listing is one of the very few this year that is a) somewhere anyone with a spouse can come live happily, as Cincy has a lot of varied industries and opportunities, plus a zillion other colleges in the vicin, especially if someone can commute all the way to Oxford, b) somewhere that hires from the general population and not just a select group of Princeton grads, c) somewhere that actually tenures people. The bad news is that because of that, you’re going to get 300 applicants and not even know where to begin. Good luck! In the meantime I will edit my listing to remove some of the danger–of the position, not of the chili, about which I stick to my guns.

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  5. If you were somehow able to become a Germanist in the Pine Tree State, there’s a column waiting for you at the site covering hockey in Bowdoin’s league, The NESCAC. How does “Der Power Play” or “Kafkey in the ‘Cac” by Rebecca Schumann sound?

    http://www.nescachockey.com

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