Rate My JIL, Oct 10: Eins ist the einsam-iest Nummer

Grüße und Begrüßungen (an intentionally bad literal translation of Christian Slater’s “Greetings and Salutations!” from Heathers, in case any pedants are reading — who am I kidding, you motherfuckers are all pedants). It’s a truly grausam day here in St. Louis, and I just got back from grocery shopping in the rain (all right, not technically shopping in the rain, but going through the rain to get to the shopping. PREPOSITIONS!).

Because of the gloom and precipitation outside you will have to live without this week’s Fatass Fashion Glamour Shot, which is a look I am calling Liberté, Egalité, Maternité, because it involves a maternity dress with horizontal black and white stripes. You’ll just have to use your imaginations. Meanwhile, here is what I’ve got going on today, which is my day off.

Knitting a bazillion little hats for the baby (also on the agenda is teaching myself to crochet):

2014-10-10 10.55.13

Lately I have been feeling like my limbs are about to disconnect from my body, like there is nothing holding my skeleton up — so today also calls for some TLC in the form of, well, possibly some TLC, this hot water bottle, and my BFF the snoozing octopus…

2014-10-10 11.05.23

…which was lovingly knitted for the baby by a dear friend of the family, but which I have already taken to calling “my octopus,” so I’m actually not sure I’m going to give it to her. I mean, she won’t even be interested in stuffed animals for like two years, so…it would basically be cruel to leave the snoozing octopus all by himself until then.

And, finally, I’m mixing it up with my caffeine-free tea this week; sipping some vanilla rooibus instead of pumpkin spice (I don’t know, I realize that I am a middle-aged Caucasian, but I have serious pumpkin spice fatigue already, like ENOUGH with the pumpkins and the spice, give me an apple).

2014-10-10 11.01.26

This is my second (of three) Tower of Terror souvenir mugs. I got this one on a trip to Disneyland in CA during graduate school with my friend Erin. The ToT was our favorite ride, and we often called it The Nietzschean Abyss: The Ride.

Speaking of the Nietzschean Abyss, let’s look at the sole tenure-track listing for the week (keeping it company on the JIL are two non tenure track lectureships, and six jobs that are not in German at all. Stay classy, JIL).

Michigan State, Assistant Professor of German and Global Studies. Other than the fact that this sad, single job stands alone, bringing the year’s total up to a mind-numbingly awful 17 (will it reach 20 by MLA? Adjunct Nate and I have $20 riding on it, but I can’t remember which of us is the over and which is the under), it looks fine.

First of all, memo to all deans everywhere: This is what a dual appointment looks like. Global Studies is the kind of thing a Germanist would have a secondary specialization in, unlike, say, another totally unrelated foreign language. So, this might look like two jobs they are asking one person to do, but it’s pretty legit.

The only thing I don’t get is the admin-speak in the first paragraph: “The successful candidate with be appointed on an academic year basis.” I am assuming this does not mean that this is a one-year renewable NTT position. I am assuming. I am giving Michigan State, which has a PhD program, the benefit of the doubt here and assuming it would never adopt the odious trend of advertising a NTT position as if it were TT (Rhodes College, I am looking at you). But why put that? Because the new hire won’t have to teach summer school? Do any of you out there have to teach year-round as part of your base salary? Do tell!

But seriously, aren’t all jobs of this sort on an “academic year basis”? Is not every single person who responds to this ad going to know that? If someone allegedly has an earned doctorate but does not understand how the academic year works, are you sure you want the Brick Tamland of German Studies to work with you? ICH LIEBE LAMPE! LAUTE GERÄUSCHE!!!!!

I have read what feels like 600 jobs ads in the last six years (probably closer to 250, given how few jobs there have been), and I haven’t seen this weird-ass wording in recent memory. Anyone want to tell me why a search committee (or, more likely, the Executive Vice Associate Dean that micromanages them) would feel the need to include it? Is this yet another case of HR run amok, and of the growing disconnect between the people doing the hiring and the knowing of literally anything about what said people will actually be hired to do?

17 thoughts on “Rate My JIL, Oct 10: Eins ist the einsam-iest Nummer

      • But at Michigan State, they only pretty recently started paying faculty over 10 months (8 months full pay, half pay for May and August). I imagine that the change made explanation seem more necessary.


  1. “Appointed on an academic year basis” usually means ten-month salary. Some schools will let you spread that salary over twelve months, but in others, you need either to be very good at budgeting or to hope like hell that you can swing a summer teaching gig so as to eat and make rent for June and July.

    It’s actually better that they’re explaining this! After three years when I was a lecturer on a twelve-month contract, I snagged an assistant professorship that had a ten-month salary. And there was actually some confusion on everyone’s part when I was trying to negotiate the offer: they were matching my monthly salary (less June and July) whereas if you looked at the total less summer teaching, it looked like a pay cut.

    So it’s a good thing that there’s more precision in the postings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I said, if what they mean is that you cannot spread your $ 9 over 12 or 10 over 12, they should say that. I found that language incredibly imprecise because it didn’t mention money at all!


  2. That octopus is super cute! Your knitting skills are pretty darn awesome as as your dress-making skills.

    Also, please please don’t have pumpkin ennui yet … it’s only early October and we still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through! There were pumpkin products everywhere when I visited Trader Joe’s yesterday and I thought to myself, “A swarm of happy pumpkins has barfed all over this store.”

    They had: Pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds. Honey-roasted pumpkin ravioli. Pumpkin brittle. (Okay, I’ll stop now.)


  3. No idea about the actual language, but I assume that you’re right in that it probably comes down from above. It’s true that here, tenure-track faculty technically have 1-year, renewable contracts, and that it is therefore technically possible — in rare cases, I hope — to not renew, essentially firing someone while on the TT. Perhaps this language is included to register that possibility?


  4. @cyocum

    Non-EU citizens are mostly out of luck in terms of the UK job market (good luck getting a visa). The first post is for a ‘Professor’, which is an advanced post (Associate Professor or above in the States) and at St. Andrews no less (Scottish Oxbridge) whilst the postdoc in London wouldn’t really offer enough money to live (i.e. you’d have to be living in or near London already to make it work).


  5. I work at Michigan State and can confirm what others have said above.

    MSU has two classifications that apply to fixed-term and tenure-track employees. AY (academic year) means that the individual is only expected to teach during fall and spring, not summer – BUT health care and other benefits continue over the summer. Summer teaching is therefore above and beyond the salary listed and falls into overload pay. AN (annual year) means that the individual is EITHER employed for 12 months and expected to work all 12 months (with benefits for 12 months) OR, if the employee is on a fixed-term contract, works for a predetermined number of months – say, one semester – with pay for only those months (and is probably not benefits eligible, at least not until ACA kicks in).

    For most employees, AY would be preferable since it leaves summers free for research but includes year-round benefits coverage.


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