Dear Search Committees of America who Plan to Interview at MLA/AHA/Similar,
There is literally no reason whatsoever you should not have met already and decided upon your semi-finalists. Your deadlines have all passed. You requested a reasonable amount of stuff (or, if you didn’t, that’s your own fucking fault). Get off your asses, read through that shit, and get back to people, now. I shouldn’t have to tell you why, but here goes anyway.
Conferences cost money and most job candidates will not go unless they have interviews. Most adjuncts and graduate students make under $20,000 a year. Adjuncts receive no professional support whatsoever, and grad students but a paltry few hundred dollars that usually covers about half a damn plane ticket (if that). Area hotels are expensive, official “conference hotels” extortionate.
The average cost of a trip to MLA is $1200. Add in the cost of a new suit (and it has to be a “nice” one, or you’re fucked), and make that $1500. I realize that most of you get travel money, so travel plans for you are all “academic,” as they say, and that you can’t wait to go to the conference and preen around at your old grad-school classmates, erm, I mean “see friends and listen to panels.”
But the annual convention for a job candidate is absolute torture. Honestly, it is agony. If you haven’t been through it, there’s no way to explain just how agonizing it is–though that won’t stop me trying in Vitae in a few weeks, so I’m going to can it here.
So, to review: candidates will not be attending this conference unless you beckon them there with your precious interviews. Candidates should be given the basic human decency of a few weeks’ notice before they blow whatever remains of their Christmas break to smithereens. By waiting until mid-to-late December to send out interview requests like you often/always do, you are being horrible, horrible people, and fuck you.
OH, BUT REBECCA, you say. IT’S THE END OF THE SEMESTER. WE’RE BUSY AND IMPORTANT. We just don’t have tiiiiiiiime. Yes, you do. Fuck you. Do you know how easy your goddamned jobs are? You really think prep, grading and research is a lot of work? I used to, too, until I had to take two additional jobs to support myself. Now I maintain a higher course load than most of you, and I write 7 articles per month (at least) for the national media, plus chug ahead on my larger research projects (at a faster rate than most of you, I imagine, since I don’t have the deadweight of existential misery slowing me down anymore), plus meet with and mentor up to nine clients at a time.
Each of my “part-time” jobs takes more time and effort than yours does, and yet I meet my deadlines with no problem whatsoever, because if I didn’t, I’d be fired. Only in academia is the deadline “optional” and a five-month delay on an article not grounds for permanent blackballing from the entire industry. And for what? What are you doing all day? I’m asking rhetorically, because I’ve had your jobs, and I know. You work a decent, full-time job, but a double-shift coal miner you are not. Spare time you have.
The entire idea that the last four weeks of the academic’s semester is this sacred torture-space during which a precious scholar can’t be bothered to do one minute more of Sisyphean work is patently ridiculous. I have been a full-time, well-paid professor before (and I was on the job market at the same time, which takes an additional ten billion hours a week). It is only “hard” because the socializing pressures of academia to make sure everyone’s “always working” (“How do you have TIME to sew? How do you have TIME for TV? How do you have TIME for anything that isn’t alcoholism?”) makes you think it has to be.
Yes, finals are a little bit of a crunch and grading is the worst. It is. I’m with you. But you know what? I have three times the grading you do, plus multiple deadlines every single week that are often pushed up, and my articles go through two, three, sometimes four revisions with my editor before they are published, each of which I have to get back to him in a matter of hours, not months. HOURS, NOT MONTHS. It’s exciting, it takes focus and effort, but it’s not that hard. IT WOULD NOT BE THAT HARD for you fuck-faces to just carve out a goddamned time to meet–today, tomorrow, the next day–and go through your applications already. If you requested too much stuff (“evidence of teaching excellence,” anyone?), that is your goddamned problem.
Search committees of America: the longer you wait to notify your candidates, the more expensive you make their plane tickets and hotel reservations, the more unsure their vacation plans, the longer you drag out their torture, the worse you are as human beings. Honestly, you should be incarcerated for violating the Geneva Conventions.
Currently in my discipline only two of the 20 active TT searches have sent out interview requests, and those are (hallelujah!) by Skype and not at the conference. The rest of you can go eat a bag of John Boehners, honestly. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for your selfish, self-important, preening, bullshit system (and I know it’s “standard practice” to wait until later in December, and that. is. bullshit). I have been you, I know your workload, I know your lives, and there is no excuse.