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.”

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.]
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.]
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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111 thoughts on “Rate My JIL 2015: Carnage

  1. The Michigan ad’s a sham — they have a visiting prof from Cornell whom they hired last year. The ad was written for her. Michigan’s glitzy Princeton hire came two years ago, when they conducted their last search. St. Olaf has two visitors, one of whom is bound to be a favorite. There’s another TT position you didn’t list, at Williams College, but it’ll likely go to a native German or a Princeton grad. Colorado’s interest in German extends about as far as the name of their department; in actuality, they aspire to be a department of theory. They’ll hire a comp-lit grad — from Princeton. Oh, and by the way, it didn’t appear in the JIL, but Berkeley is trying to resurrect its repeatedly-canceled search. It’s listed on hercjobs.

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    1. LOLOL BERKELY LOLOLOL that job LOLOL.

      Oh yeah I forgot about Williams! I’ll add it.

      Good to know about the Michigan ad. So that means UW is the ONLY marquis job this year. Do they have an insider, do you know?

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      1. The UMich visiting just started this semester. As for StOlaf, other departments have a history of effing over visiting from state schools in favor of TT hires from fancy schools.
        As a side note, I used not to believe inside hires had an edge, then I lost two jobs to insiders. Of course when I’m the insider, I get thoroughly Ph.ucke.D. So I guess insiders don’t always win.

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      2. I am generally rooting for the insider because they have made a commitment to the school and the students already. What I find unconscionable is going through a big national search with conference interviews, etc, for an inside hire. Yes, the rules specify you have to do a national search. They do not specify that you have to interview at conference or on campus. So don’t waste everyone’s time and money!

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      3. I agree that if departments are happy with their insider, they should try to keep him/her without putting on a huge dog and pony show. Wasting candidates’ money and giving them false hopes is, as you put it, unconscionable.

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      4. I also really object to this idea that less than a year later, they MIGHT find someone better ENOUGH, so it’s worth the whole rigmarole. I mean, often what they want is someone already on the TT, who wouldn’t bother with a VAP. Which is also shitty. But, like I said, why am I even upset about this? This is arguing over stowing away vs. steerage on the Titanic.

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  2. The wiki has 11 jobs, including the Berkeley job mentioned above and a newly posted position at UNC Asheville. The Colorado position is a pretty clear inside hire. They just hired an NYU grad as a lecturer. The ad mentions all of her specializations. I think Williams has a VAP. Baylor is asking for a statement of faith to accompany the application. The opportunity to write such a statement almost makes me want to apply.

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    1. If you do apply to Baylor, and can send me proof you did, I will give you a prize.

      LOL the Berkeley job LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL that deserves its own entry, which it will get next week, no prisoners taken.

      My uncle is the retired chancellor at UNCA, maybe he knows some dirt, LOL–I think they hired either last year or the year before, so I wonder if the person left or they cancelled the search. OR maybe they hired a VAP, in which case inside hire?

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      1. I applied at Baylor for a VAP (?) in German about 10+ years ago. The “statement of faith” wasn’t required then, or at least wasn’t mentioned in the JIL ad. I had an MLA interview, heard nothing for months, then their chair called me to see if I was interested in teaching there. I was then supposed to come up, meet the President of the university, and beforehand (IIRC), provide a written statement of faith. I told them very politely to go fuck themselves.

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      2. wow, a SoF as a LAST step?!?!? That is rich. Did you pledge allegiance to the Church of Satan? Today at Trader Joe’s they were out of a bunch of shit I like, and I was all like, “Trader Joe giveth, and Trader Joe taketh away. Blessed be the name of Trader Joe, amen.” If I applied to the job at Baylor I’d probably affirm my faith in Trader Joe then, too.

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      3. I know somebody that teaches at Baylor (different dept). A while ago, she told be that there had always been a tension between being a Research Univ and being a Religious Univ there. However, in the past 5 years or so, the religious side had won, and that the working environment for those who were not very devout was getting increasingly hostile

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      4. I haven’t heard about anybody being fired on religious grounds, but, if I recall correctly, there was a story some years ago where some science dept denied tenure to a creationist and some people on the BoT wanted to overturn it. My memory is fuzzy, but it might be worth looking it up.
        I really wouldn’t want to go to Baylor. I’d rather apply to BYU. Although they do give preference to Mormons, they do hire from other religions, and they are very clear about what behavior is allowed on campus and what is not. You take it or leave it. At least, they have always been very clear what the expectations were.

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    2. The fact that an ad matches the qualifications of a visitor doesn’t mean it’s fixed for the visitor — it means that the department needed to cover those fields, and since line requests take a while to go through, you hire a visitor into the position in the meantime. There’s nothing nefarious about that. The fact many people don’t get jobs isn’t that the jobs are fixed but that there are so many more people looking for jobs than there are jobs.

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      1. uh, that might be true for when the ad says “18th Century.” It is most certainly not true for “super specific thing/combination of things only this visitor does,” which is how some ads read, and what I am talking about here.

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      2. “The fact many people don’t get jobs isn’t that the jobs are fixed but that there are so many more people looking for jobs than there are jobs.”

        LOL, wut? The second part of this claim is true — there are more candidates than jobs. But the first — that jobs are not fixed or that ads are never specifically tailored for certain candidates — makes me curious if “Cassie” is ABD, a t-t prof with a job, or an administrator. Or, you know, somebody who has never been on the market in the past 15 years.

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      3. Anon, Cassie’s a TT professor who’s been involved in a dozen searches by now directly, far more indirectly.. The fear of “fixed” searches is one of those anxiety topoi that keep cropping up, but it’s largely nonsense — the fact that inside candidates often get jobs is because those folks were hired onto tentative positions that asked for the very same qualifications the tt job requires. And since the applicant pool for the tentative positions these days is pretty much the same as for the tt positions, it’s not surprising that the person who makes the cut in the first search also makes the cut in the second one. And, yes, of course, a department already knows that the person in question doesn’t seem to be a psychopath, which is important information, since you don’t hire people into tt unless you really want to have them hang around for a few decades. I’ve been part of searches where there were inside applicants, but I’ve never ever seen a search committee go nudge nudge wink wink we know whom we gonna hire anyway, right? Because a search is a huge time suck, and time is something folks on search committees rarely have to spare.

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      4. It’s still the dumbest way to do something I have ever heard of. You already have someone you like. Just hire them. If your admin makes you do a national search because of regulations, make it an obvious sham. Searches are expensive but not to you. You don’t pay a damn cent. You go to the conference for free. You get to brag to old friends about your search. Please.

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      5. Hm, this is getting a bit heated. But no, there’s nothing stupid about doing a national search right once you have to do it for legal reasons. Even if the best candidate _may_ be already sitting in your own department — but you don’t know that yet. And searches are incredibly “expensive” to search committee members — not in money, to be sure, but in time. Hundreds of dossiers to read, dozens of 30pp writing samples, four or five days in some miserable hotel just when you were supposed to have a break between terms to perhaps see your kids for more than an hour or actually prepare the next set of classes or lord forbid, travel for pleasure or see your parents. I realize that looks like privilege from the vantage point of those who don’t have a tt job and who have to do all that PLUS pay enormous sums to attend the MLA and undergo the anxiety and almost certain rejection of a byzantine process — and it most certainly is a position of privilege. But there seems to be some prevailing idea on this blog that the academy is populated by mendacious folks of ill will who love to lord it over contingent faculty, and that’s simply not true. Nobody regrets adjunctification more than the people who’d like nothing better than to hire the next generation into actual, well-paying, future-bearing, benefited jobs. To divide people who ought to be on the same side is not in the interest of us scholars — but it sure is in the interest of corporate-minded administrators everywhere. Oh, I just checked out the MI job description — looks like they’re looking for someone in transnational German studies. I don’t see anything ludicrously specific there.

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      6. Here’s the thing. The mythical “may be better” candidate will be so *marginally, infinitesimally* better in the end (or, appear bright and shiny at first but end up not being better at all). So “doing a search right” would be not putting your insider through the agonizing process of applying for the job she’s done and done well, just for the pleasure of seeing some Princeton snotnose with a fancier pedigree get it because the committee got stars in its eyes. “Doing a search right” is not just going, “Oh, well, the MOST FABULOUS BIG SUPERSTAR PERFECT PERSON MIGHT be out there so let’s totally torture the one we already went through all that trouble to hire a year ago, because the market has TOTALLY CHANGED SO MUCH SINCE THEN OH WAIT IT HASN’T, unless you want, again, some snotnose ABD because even your VAP is already stale. If that’s “doing it right,” I am very, very happy to advocate doing it wrong, thank you very much. Because again, your “superstar” is not guaranteed to be better than what you’ve got, and being so in love with the unknown suitor that you put yourselves through the mild inconvenience of a free vacation, and your candidates through the hell of a mostly-or-totally unfunded trip to hell, is for fairy tales and tween girls.

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      7. mm, transnational german studies is a pretty well established subfield, and larger departmetns tend to want to see it covered. otherwise, I suppose I will just have to bow to your greater experience in running searches and hiring faculty.

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      8. Ah yes, a “well-established subfield” with probably like 5 dissertations total in it this year. I mean, granted that’s a hearty percentage of the field, but nothing in German studies is “well-established” anymore because did you not see the single-digit job list? Meanwhile, everyone and their mom is getting told by their advisors to “apply for everything” no matter what speciality is listed–and if they are at a fancy enough program that isn’t bad advice. Anyway. On to your larger point, O Ye Great Real Prof Deigning to Learn Us Plebs:

        I fully understand that you have a lot of experience with searches. I also understand that searches like this — that don’t need to be done — are needlessly painful for almost everyone involved.

        Just because someone has experience choking kittens doesn’t mean I should defer to him as my cat-sitter.

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      9. “But there seems to be some prevailing idea on this blog that the academy is populated by mendacious folks of ill will who love to lord it over contingent faculty, and that’s simply not true.”

        Hi Cassie — I’d like to address this statement, because many of us on this blog have been burned by the job market multiple years in a row despite being outstanding scholars and dedicated teachers, all while we were still grad students drinking the ‘kool aid.’

        Just because we are all getting hit by the same systemic sh*t stick — search committee members such as yourself who are burning the candle on both ends running these exhaustive searches, and candidates such as myself who go into $1000+ in debt each January thanks to Interfolio, MLA flight+hotel+registration+interview clothes — does not mean this abusive system is working just fine.

        If there is a VAP or an advanced postdoc who is performing well and has no mental health issues (the risk of being a psychopath that you mention), just hire the person already instead of running a national search.

        The deafening silence of people inside search committees and the cognitive dissonance of professors who continue to tell their advisees, “the market is competitive but fair, there are plenty of good jobs if you just publish, publish, publish” — is hurting us all.

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      10. You know what IS nefarious, and I’ve seen it happen at least twice now in different departments? When you have a long-term NTT faculty who is doing an AMAZING job, students love them, and the dept specifically requests a TT line TO REPLACE that NTT faculty instead of converting that NTT to TT/tenured. And often the TT ad is written just differently enough from the current person’s profile so that they can’t apply for it.

        I agree with Anon and Rebecca here. do better by your current visitors.

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      11. I’m pretty much a tool for the man, but I sympathize with Cassie. The way things work in theory, FullProf A retires in March, a quick search finds VAP B, someone who can at least cover FullProf’s classes the next year, and a TT job description to replace FullProf A is written four months before VAP B sets foot on campus. Maybe VAP B is great, or maybe he turns out to be bonkers. In any case, it’s realistic to expect a different pool of candidates for a TT search, and maybe the department really will find the absolute bestest person ever for the job.

        I’m OK with that. I’ve only lost out to inside candidates and never managed to benefit from insider status on a search, but whatever. If the system works for the department, I can deal with it.

        I think where a lot of us end up cynical and bitter is when, for example, a department has a long-term lecturer who teaches 4-4, revamps the language program, and pushes out research like there’s no tomorrow, but when the department hires in the lecturer’s field, it gets dazzled by the shininess of a fresh Yale comp lit PhD (who’s never taught a language course or published in the field ostensibly being hired for). When experience is treated as a liability rather than a benefit for candidates, those of us with experience get grouchy.

        Or when an R1 brings in their favoritest person ever for a super-duper fellowship, then later decides to hire in her field, and hires her…but only after making her and 12 other people pay for MLA interviews, when Skype or the telephone are easier for everybody. If you’ve got someone you think you want, then go with Skype until you can pay the way for 1-2 other people to fly to campus.

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      12. Yay Adjunct Nate helps us all get along. Meanwhile, discussions like this are pretty much belaboring a moot point, don’t you think? I feel dirty for getting distracted from the real point, which is that our discipline is dead.

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  3. In my defense, I counted 14 TT jobs on opening day last year and predicted 24 total, so I was only 4 off. 2013 got off to a slow start. If we’re so lucky this year, there will be…18 jobs, rather than 16. It will still likely end up as the worst German has ever seen.

    Is German just a victim of fate, or did it do itself in somehow?

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    1. LOL I give, I give. I think maybe you counted some jobs I thought were too shitty to count ;). 18, huh. I’m going to bet an even 20 just to make it interesting. What should the prize be? Other than hot tears?

      As far as whose fault it is–I really don’t know. What I’d like to do right now is mourn and hope that people doing “public German” stuff like Eric Jarosinski and — yes — me might inspire more to do the same. It’s wrenching, though. Just wrenching. Not even talking about no jobs for good people anymore (though that is bad enough), but about the death of a discipline I really loved.

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  4. If it makes you feel any better, Russian has 9, Portuguese has 5 and Italian as – wait for it – THREE on the jil today. Western languages other than Spanish and French are done.

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    1. It makes me feel much, much worse. I have not heard anything about Spanish or French yet, and I’m also not sure the “non-Western” FLs are doing that great either. I think American monolingualist garbage manifest destiny is coming to fruition.

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      1. Yea, that was of course sarcasm. I am in Italian and it’s total carnage. We also have no medievalist jobs, which feels particularly gut-wrenching because it means that there is not one position open for a “dantista” – our lifeblood.

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      2. Spanish: 57 jobs total. I do Contemporary Latin America + Film. I counted the jobs I could apply for: 11. And I included everything, like one in Idaho I would never apply for in real life (weather + open carry laws ) There are 3 more that are a stretch, but maybe…It’s the worst JIL I have seen since 2009.

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    2. If you look at the Spanish jobs, many of them say “Plus Portuguese and at least one other romance language,” so they want to hire someone in the Spanish program who can ALSO teach classes in other languages so they don’t have to open lines. There may be more jobs total listed as Spanish Prof below said, but the jobs are increasingly shitty and unrealistic. For example, there’s a job at Berkeley for a “Hispanic Linguist” who has experience teaching pretty much every single goddamn subfield of linguistics AND can do literary translation AND speaks/can teach Portuguese AND one other romance language. Feh. Insulting.

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      1. @Lonely ABD: what, you can’t contribute to our Latin and/or Arabic programs in addition to teaching Spanish? What kind of low-brow grad school did you go to? Yes, there is a job asking that

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      2. HAHAHAHA…

        I mean, I could contribute. They might not like it. But I could contribute.

        So glad I am not going on the market.

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    3. The Portuguese box on the JIL returns five results, but only one of those is a TT job in Portuguese. The others are linguistics, lecturer jobs, or “Spanish and Portuguese,” which tend to go to someone specializing more on the Spanish side of Latin America. So one job for a Brazilianist to apply to: U. of Chicago. Not great prospects for someone still finishing their dissertation and whose advisor passed away last month.

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  5. Well, someone else already commented that it’s not a problem limited to German. And probably not to the languages. The recent NPR report on the sciences also seems bleak. Dark times for the life of the mind.

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  6. Might as well spread the Schadenfreude some more.

    French: 15 TT jobs.
    Chinese: 5
    Arabic: ca. 5

    I don’t know these fields (or Russian/Portuguese/Italian/Spanish via fps82 above) as well as German, but it looks like the United States of America has decided in unison to end the study of foreign languages and literatures at the university level altogether. Either that, or to replace all the professors with “repeat after me” talking heads on DVD.

    Didn’t we used to at least make a token effort to learn the languages of the people we were bombing? Give lip service to the idea that speaking the languages of our economic partners was a good idea?

    There hasn’t been a sudden economic shock like in 2008. The economy isn’t contracting. No, this is a collective decision to completely gut what used to be a core element of university education. We’ve progressed from slow poison to the blunt instrument stage of killing an entire discipline.

    Waiting for the MLA to be “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook for jobs in 2014 in 3…2…1…

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    1. Coming to this a week late, and only for Arabic –

      THIS is the purest form of adjunctification in action. Why hire a PhD (with appropriate salary), when you can get a mother tongue speaker of X language to run students through the SINGLE possible textbook? Arabic as a second language? Any pedagogy training? Or even full command of the grammar? Having even read a different textbook than the one you’re mandated to teach from?

      Uff, who needs that, when we have the social-worker partner of our new engineering prof who will jump in to teach Arabic 101, or a Phd Student in an entirely different field looking for teaching experience of any kind, or one of our former undergrads who got an A in advanced Arabic two years ago (all true stories, from 3 different institutions)? The most egregious was a mathematician, brought in under a “scholars in danger” program, forced to teach 101 in order to stay in the country.

      We can pay them less, without a long-term contract, and the students won’t notice anyways, since they’re only hear to get Intro Arabic on their CVs in time for their job hunt in govt/consulting/merchant of death-ing.

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      1. YES, and the same goes with Mandarin, the other language in vogue. People say those languages aren’t in trouble, but for exactly the reasons you say, they’re in worse trouble.

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  7. just fyi, the penn state lecturer job is an inside hire too. they’re looking to hire their person that’s been doing that job already as a grad student for years.

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  8. 6 jobs in my Brit lit sub-field. So by ANS’s 1.75 rule, I can expect a total of 11 job ads this coming year. “Carnage” is right.

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  9. I’m wondering about the “native speakers only at fancy schools” thing, which you’ve mentioned a couple times. Because I went to an Ivy League college, and took Italian from a (great) American teacher. In fact, I remember her talking about how her native Italian colleagues made fun of her difficulty with double consonants. Was that so rare? Or have things changed? Or is German crazier about this stuff than other languages?

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    1. It depends on if your dept is run by Germans or not. Some Germans (old-fashioned ones) tend to think that only native speakers should be in charge of teaching German. Also some parents of rich kids think native speakers are “the best” and that their kids deserve “the best.” At elite RESEARCH unis this is not the case, because people are hired for their research & not their language and, indeed, a foreign PhD is laughed out of the room. At elite LIBERAL ARTS colleges where it’s (nominally) all about the students, it’s about giving the students “the best hired help” there is. So I don’t say “native speakers only” at fancy schools per se, only at fancy SLACs like the one I attended.

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    2. The native speaker-only position is being forced to change a little in my field. I’ve seen more and more listings pop up that say the candidate must already have authorization to work in US to apply. Of course, there are still all the native speakers who married an American during their studies here. But I know a lot of students in my field who are here on visa who are unable to apply for these positions. Actually, an Ivy advertised a Lecturer position last year and noted that they would not be supporting visas, and it caused quite the stir. This year there is even a TT position that requires work authorization, which is weird.

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      1. The case of native speakers who are in trouble because they don’t have a work authorization is heartbreaking. I know many people who had to go back to their home country because they couldn’t find a job. And of course, US foreign language departments recruit PhD students in foreign countries without considering the kind of conundrum their students might find themselves in (lived six years in the US, get kicked out because no job, no visa).

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    3. I tried to post this earlier, but, and this is not based on any sort of data but rather my own experiences, parents and students sniff derisively at profs who are not native speakers. I heard it all the time in the late 90s-early 00s at my state school. Of course, many people think Rosetta Stone works and that immigrants can “pick up” English in about six months.

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  10. You know, I remember a long vanished time (the early 1990s) when German was a thing that was regularly taught in high school, even in the small-ish town I grew up in. Which meant that there were German majors, which meant that there was a field of German studies robust enough that even a small town had folks with German BAs. What in the f*cking f*ck is wrong with our elites that apparently the study of European languages is apparently a thing we don’t need? Do they just think that you really only need Spanish to berate the help and for everything else there’s Google Translate? I honestly don’t know!

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    1. Administrators at the secondary level, most of whom know no foreign languages themselves, are largely clueless and assume that for their schools to be competitive they need to keep up with the times, thus gutting German, French, and Latin in favor of Mandarin, or whatever other language seems pressingly important at the moment. This is not to say German is a better choice than Chinese, or Chinese better than German (as a Germanist, though, I’m appalled at witnessing its disappearance). It’s just that administrators with virtually no competence in foreign languages govern the infrastructure of American language study with such fundamentally flawed principles that no foreign language ever has anything more than a tenuous foothold in a curriculum. This is a particularly insidious problem in a field that requires tremendous commitment from students over a period of many years before they attain high levels of proficiency.

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      1. Oh god, yes. This. I recently interviewed for a PT gig where the language class cap was 28 students (because the admin averaged class size and if Econ and bio can have 60+ students in a class why can’t you have 28 in a language class?). And they reduced the requirement to 3 semesters not 4.

        Spanish Prof: w.t.actual.f.

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      1. Spanish is not safe. And it is not only administrators fault. I just spent a week fighting against a push from faculty in other colleges who are trying to reduce the FL requirement at my place. Even worse, most nursing profs try to dissuade their students from double majoring or minoring in Spanish (“too hard and it can affect your GPA). As a student who double majored said: “I knew not to listen to them [nursing prof] when I saw how those graduates who spoke Spanish where the ones who had no problems finding jobs”. Administrators deserve a lot of blame, but faculty in many areas are equally narrow-minded

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      2. Speaking Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, Tamil, Hindi or Urdu is such a HUGE ADVANTAGE to nurses I can’t even. I want to go to those nursing profs and curse them out in all those languages.

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    2. I took German in high school. The first two years, anyway. Then the teacher decided to leave, so German was cut. (This was 1989. Like, maybe there could have been some compelling reasons to study German language and culture? Ya think?) With a lot of effort plus summer school I moved right into literature classes in college, but yes, the present state of things is very disheartening.
      Part of the problem is, and has been for a while, that you can’t count on students taking German because their families were from Germany. It’s often said that German-Americans are the most assimilated ethnic group, and this does seem to be true. Although they will often come out of the woodwork, like when I’m out somewhere with my husband and people recognize his accent. They will often get really excited and say,”My ancestors are from Germany!” or something like that. But this recent stuff is mostly attributable to sh*tty administrators and their usual sh*t.

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  11. I know someone who got one of those Duke writing program jobs a few years ago – not even from a language and literature field. They’re pretty great jobs as far as postdocs go (I think it was a 5 year position), but you’re competing for them against people from literally every humanities and social sciences discipline.

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    1. and as far as going back on the market, they’re the same kryptonite as any other adjunct job. except possibly worse, since 5 years teaching freshman comp does not German (or whatever) experience make.

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  12. I remember back a year ago when I was still on the U.S. History job market. I applied for a position a small, Western Pennsylvania liberal arts college (which shall go unnamed), that was near my home town. I was excited at even the slim chance to work there since knew the place and I liked the area.

    So I applied. I spent, like, two whole days hashing out one of those bullsh*t letters that explains why you’re so darn passionate about working at THIS university. But in my case, I actually WAS excited at the chance to work there, which I couldn’t say about ANY other crappy position I applied for. So, again, I applied. ONE WEEK LATER I found out that they already hired someone. Now granted, I never checked to find out if it was an inside-hire, but then again, I’ve never seen gravity, either, but I know it’s real. I’m working outside of academia now, and it’s a decision that I don’t regret.

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  13. More depression:

    In Classics (and these are jobs for Latinists, Hellenists, Historians, Archaeologists) I count around 40 jobs so far of which nearly half are not TT jobs. If the ol’ Adjunct NS’ formula is right, a count of under 80 is very low, but if one controls for just TT jobs, it is truly abysmal.

    I do think that administrations are in a constant economic crisis mode (so there is fear operating here) but that they are also using the crisis to remake the professorate without a doubt. Our provost just published new hiring guidelines that take replacement hires away from the departments and colleges to be distributed to the university at large based on (1) how much grant money the position could bring in; (2) how said position affects graduation rates; and (3) to what extent the entire department is following rules like using Blackboard exclusively to record and compute grades.

    So, the end for humanistic disciplines is well nigh. We have a new chair who was shocked when the Dean of the college instructed chairs to just replace contingent faculty who caused “any problems”. Welcome to Walmart U., right?

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  14. So many other marvelous pieces of fruit in this year’s MLA postings. My favorite is this postdoc at Brown’s Pembroke Center:

    ‘In 2015-16, the Pembroke Center is awarding one-year residential postdoctoral fellowships to scholars from any field whose research relates to the theme of “Fatigue”.’

    https://www.mla.org/jil_listing?id=21296

    I also note that Dig-Hum is slim pickins. 4 or 5 credible TTs, all at random staties and Canadian places. Not that there’s anything wrong with random staties and Canadian places, but it’s clear the Ivies are galloping away from this sub-field just as fast they created a bubble around it. Grad students who started their PhD programs in 2008 and decided, on their departments’ advice, to do Dig-Hum rather than Shakespeare must be pulling their hair out in frustration.

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      1. I think I’d rather study my favorite author in grad school and not get a professorship than skip studying my favorite author, instead do digital-humanities because I was told this would be more “strategic” — and then still not get a professorship.

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      2. Yeah I agree. Every sacrifice I made in both grad school and postdoctorally — personal and professional — in the service of career is something about which I feel permanently, irrevocably bitter. I admire those who did it their own way the whole time, because at least they got to have some fun.

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      3. Rhet/Comp is going to be the next bubble to burst. Many folks who began doctoral programs in English in 2008-2009 either moved to Rhet/Comp or did Rhet/Comp dissertations because this is where the jobs have been in the past five years. But it’s a bubble, just like Digital Humanities.

        I’m in a small-ish Brit Lit field, 6 jobs in JIL. I remember a random conversation at a conference a couple of years back, advising me to “learn coding, it’s really easy, all the jobs are there.”

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      4. Yes, Rhet/Comp is already bursting b/c (IMHO totally unqualified and miserable-to-do-it) people from other disciplines are taking over freshman comp programs like that stupid one at Duke I made fun of. Which is a damn shame. Nobody–and I mean NOBODY–should teach freshman comp who does not feel it is their #1 soul’s purpose to do so & is not rigorously trained to (shudder).

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      5. On the topic of Rhet/Comp jobs, it would be apropos to mention a random conversation I had 4-5 years ago with a Rhet/Comp professor. Apparently, lit PhDs were “doctoring” and “manipulating” their cvs to look it like they were really rhet/comp scholars in disguise, that they really loved rhet/comp, that they couldn’t wait to teach rhet/comp, etc. because there were so many Rhet/Comp jobs in contrast with so few lit jobs. The prof. added, “We can see right through this ruse.”

        These days, I imagine the only people who get Rhet/Comp or Dig. Hum.. jobs are candidates with dissertations in these areas, not lit PhDs who want a standby position until the next market.

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      6. That’s the thing. The trend-followers think they’re being crafty and “playing the game” — but in the academic job market of the last 15, 20 years, there is no “being crafty”, there is no “playing the game.” And I confess to feeling a twinge of schadenfreude when I see the trend-followers hit a brick wall.

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      7. RS: “I admire those who did it their own way the whole time,”

        As someone who, for better or worse, did it my own way the whole time through grad school (in Philosophy), I find this somewhat gratifying. But there’s just not anything about the value of that experience that compensates for the horrible experience of working harder for less pay than I made on my grad stipend. (And this from a comparatively flush field that gave me 50+ tt jobs to apply for last year).

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  15. Rebecca,

    I’d like to offer one small broad criticism of your writing about academia generally. Take it or leave it, I’m not looking to start an argument (feel free to argue if you wish! not trying to shut it down either). But I think generally you have a tendency to be unclear about whether you’re taking aim at faculty or administration. I left academia in part because I couldn’t stand the people I was working with – meaning, fellow faculty members – but I also know that to a great degree they’re operating under constraints they have little control over. They don’t set staffing or salary levels. They often have a lot of interference in how they run a search, either from administration or faculty committees made up of people who aren’t actually in their field (yes, here, in a sense, faculty are to blame, but it isn’t actual department members in a particular field).

    More senior faculty members are in general overly disinterested in and unaware of the plight more recent graduates, whether we’re talking about people who toil in adjunct limbo or people who manage to get TT jobs. They certainly aren’t powerless and they could be a bit more humane in their dealings with the lower orders. But they really don’t have control over the bigger picture, just some of the smaller details (which they can do better on!).

    Anyway, I don’t mean this to be a defense of faculty. As I said, I left because I couldn’t stand them. But especially when you’re writing for a broader audience I think you’d do that audience a service if you were more clear (At times!) about just who has the power over certain issues.

    My 2 cents, meant to be constructive criticism from someone generally shares your basic set of concerns.

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      1. Arguably Rebecca is currently the most prominent person writing about this stuff for a general audience on a regular basis. Just a suggestion about what might offer more clarity from her writing, especially for a general audience. And, replying to Rebecca’s post below so as not to overwhelm thread, yes I agree that you can’t always know these things and they do vary from institution to institution. Think you can critique The System without always knowing precisely who the villains are, but if you can and do know it would be valuable to be clear about it.

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      2. I would argue that I am not prominent at all, but thank you? Seriously, though, if I feel like I know who villains are then I call them out–but honestly, there is no real villain a lot of the time; there is just a system with a lot of moving parts that happens, at present, to have a largely toxic outcome for a lot of its participants.

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      1. My general impression is that the deans have a smidgen of power, but even they’re pretty subordinate to the president’s/chancellor’s/provost’s office, which is itself usually subordinate to the Board of Regents. At least, that’s the way it looks in my own underfunded state school whose departments are fighting to keep every line that they have. (We’re in an area without a surfeit of PhDs so to some extent we don’t have the choice to just hire a bunch of adjuncts.)

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    1. My 2 cents? An awful lot of tenured faculty (not all) have internalized what they perceive to be the mindset, biases, and tics of administration. In my own department (which is a mixed-methods social sciences field) I’ve seen administration pretty much write us a blank check to hire whatever kind of scholar we wanted — and among most of the senior faculty the PREMISE was that this really meant we had to get a quant person who already had a $100,000 research grant. Anyone who suggested that maybe we could get someone who did something more pathbreaking, but less granty, was dismissed as “naive.” Even though, as I say, administration had basically given the department carte blanche!

      It seems like the equivalent in the humanities would be: “oh the administration’s giving us a blank check on this search? Better play it safe and get the latest PhD out of Yale.” When faculty is given top-down permission to take risks, they actually get MORE risk-averse. So, yeah, I blame faculty too.

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    2. Hi Tiny Tim: It is as Rebecca says — it varies from institution to institution. At my former institution, full profs were appointed as Chair and DGS, both of which were senior admin positions. I got the sense that they were basically steering a sinking ship, with very few resources in terms of funding, etc. It also continually amazed me how disconnected our associate and full profs were about the realities of the job market. Every single one of them was training ABDs for the job market of 1998.

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    3. We all have the power – it’s just too costly for any of us to use it.

      If young (and, sadly, not so young) scholars refused to take these shitty jobs, you wouldn’t be able to replace TT positions with adjuncts, postdocs, and VAPs. If department heads and committees refused to do searches for those shitty positions, they’d never get filled. If administrators at various levels refused to approve hires for such shitty terms, the jobs would never be offered. If students refused to attend universities that didn’t offer basic language classes taught by TT professors, schools would have to prioritize those positions. If state legislators, boards of regents, and private university corporate boards prioritized instructor salaries over budget items, there would be more funding available for tenure lines. If voters demanded real public support for higher education, there would be more funding available for tenure lines.

      But at each level too many of us find it too personally costly or inconvenient. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the power. It just means we’re not willing to exercise it. (Full disclosure: I currently work in a poorly paid part-time lecturer position and so am, in that way, part of the problem). So the idea that these criticisms require identifying some particular malicious bad actors is itself a bit of wishful thinking – if only it were so simple. But it’s also a convenient way for each of us to let ourselves off the hook and push the blame somewhere else.

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  16. Response to your response above, Rebecca. It seems like you stayed true to your passion for Kafka and Wittgenstein. You wrote a dissertation about them, then a book — you didn’t give a damn if the “strategic” thing was do “digital Heideggerian business German” or whatever. You’re not the straw man I’m talking about.

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  17. 90 comments on this post and it is only the first week of the JIL! Just imagine the conversation in January.

    I am going to pull up a chair, sip some tea, and watch the craziness go down (while sending a prayer of thanks to the Universe each Friday that I don’t have to be on the market again.)

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  18. My field is one of the biggest in English lit–we’re talking every single college offers at least one course in this field every single semester. The JIL, as of Friday: 11 jobs, +1 in a closely related subfield, +1 listed on the Chronicle but not the JIL (it’s a tiny, not-very-prestigious college: I think they’re trying to avoid the deluge, which, yeah right). A bunch of these are actually really good jobs, prestigious SLACs and a few R-1s, but still, not exactly a lot. I don’t remember the exact numbers at this point last year, my spreadsheet says that there were 20 TT jobs with pre-MLA closing dates. So yay, carnage?

    I keep wondering when someone will notice that slashing all of the foreign language departments doesn’t exactly jive with all of the “Let’s be international!” talk that every single campus administrator seems to be spouting these days. But that would presume that someone with some power might actually notice the contradiction….which again, yeah, right.

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      1. Re: STEM: hard to do a direct comparison right now because the jobs aren’t listed the same way. In CS they get posted daily or weekly for a couple of months to one (or more) of three-four mailing lists. Based on my very non-scientific impression, it’s looking slightly better than last year, at least in my field? Again, hard to tell, and doesn’t address the funding problems we’re having once we start writing grants (arguably the bigger problem).

        (The other big distinction is that we tend to end up in post doc purgatory rather than adjunct hell. Also a problem for the system over all, but at least there’s usually health benefits.)

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      2. STEM is fucked too. There are lots more postdocs to be had for us (in biology, at least), but that’s actually bad–even if you want to leave academia and go into government or industry they now tend to want 5+ years of experience, which adds up to 3 postdocs. So we’re supposed to move to three different red states in a 5-6 year span, making less than $40k, just to be able to leave the academic job market. The last time I was TA for undergrad genetics the professor (adjunct) was a cardiologist–she taught three sections of genetics, 100 students each, two classes at the local community college, and saw patients mornings M-F.

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      1. Of for let’s take Ss to. Western European country and not care if they live in a bubble surrounded by other Americans and the only contact they have with locals is when they go grocery shopping

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  19. I spent the whole day today counting TT job offerings on the MLA JIL from 1989. And I say “all day” because there were so many compared to the pathetic 2014 list. I’m so angry and depressed right now that I can’t work, can’t do anything. I’m practically paralyzed with rage. 105 TT jobs in French in 1989! 33 in German and 32 in Russian!

    This is absolutely insane, people. This is a rich country. Were the departments of Russian in anybody’s way? Were they all that insanely expensive? What was the need to destroy them in such a hurry? WTF is wrong with everybody? As an immigrant, I’m totally shocked that there were so many vibrant and amazing fields of knowledge in this country that were so stupidly destroyed. There was no reason or need for any of this. There should be more jobs in these fields, not less. This makes no sense!

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here but I need to get this off my chest if I am to continue functioning.

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  20. I am very sorry for your loss. I feel as if I should ask where to send condolences or donations. I’ll just be here, clinging to this island and my position for dear life, thanking the universe. I will refrain from griping about my snorkeling knee/hamstring injury.

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  21. One of the German profs at Portland State must be planning on retiring. There’s a transition between department heads at the moment, so the wording was likely left to a secretary, with the business department eager to get a couple buzzwords in there.

    Mainly, the primary responsibility of any language prof at PDX is language proficiency, and the other things–linguistics, lit, film crit, are secondary, are left to the prof to design the other courses. But if you try to explain this to someone from one of the ‘public ivies,’ their heads would explode.

    Like

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