Monday, January 1, 2007

Past Performance...

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics:

Hiring and Applicant Data from 2006-2007

See the latter half of the classics wiki for the most up-to-date information regarding last-year's placement on an institution by institution basis.

This is a less-frequently-updated list for the same.

177 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, this application and search data is interesting, even if it isn't exactly right! I work on Latin Prose, so I am hopeful, but at the same time it has put even MORE pressure on me! AGGGHHHH! If I worked on Homer I might have more of an excuse when I couldn't get a job this year. Thanks bunches! Hah!

Anonymous said...

I dunno. The numbers seem low to me. I wonder if the APA doesn't have access to more data. I wonder if the Placement Committee would be able to release it?

Anonymous said...

The APA has difficult getting departments to respond to requests for search results. Data would require a cultural change beyond one wildest hopes

Anonymous said...

So, according to that chart and link, having a CV in the Placement Book doesn't help. It's not a detriment, is it?

Anonymous said...

no, i think it just means that most placement book cvs are from the young and inexperienced, while a lot of jobs go to those who are older and more experienced, hence do not use the placement service. thus defeating the purpose of the service.

the apa really needs a way to enforce its own rules, especially placement service ones. did you know it's an apa rule that no job applications can be required to be due before nov 15? yet every year there are a lot due before then.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for crunching these numbers; it's valuable, although I do wish there was more definite data.

Unfortunately, it seems like one of the lessons is that life is difficult for folks with geographical/family limitations who can't start off at a t-t job in Nowheresville and then abandon ship a few years later for a t-t job someplace better. It also seems rather unfair to the poor people and students at Nowheresville College, who can't count on the long-term stability of their faculty anymore.

Anonymous said...

If we think that having access to this sort of data is a good thing, what can be done about it if the culture of the APA is such that getting access to it is unlikely?

Do departments typically keep close track of application numbers, and breakdown those numbers into useful categories (at least with an eye towards this sort of analysis)?

For those of you who have sat on search committees: Do you keep statistics, or is it pretty much a mad rush just to get through the process, with little analysis or reflection afterwards?

Maybe a system of anonymous self-reporting would work. There would be no incentive to falsify the data, though there would be little incentive to do the work of organizing and reporting, either.

Anybody have any ideas out there?

Bitchin' Camaro said...

As a former search committee member, I don't remember keeping track of things at all. We had so many files to go through that we had neither the time nor energy to deal with anything than coming up with our interview list.

The departmental administrator is also required to shred all of the application files at the conclusion of the search, so getting past data would be impossible.

Too bad, because it would be interesting to compare it across fields and departments.

Anonymous said...

Lots of the requests here for more data are completely understandable and completely unrealistic. Juniors have no real idea how much work goes into the department's end of a search. Lots of us, but not all, try as hard as we can do the best job communicating with candidates, obeying various rules, etc.

Departments cannot break down their applicant pool into any kind of subsets other than gender because such efforts could easily become a full-time job in itself.

I really don't think that more data would help anyone in any meaningful way. The APA worked very hard to eliminate the most humiliating parts of the process (the blackboard notification system). It can't force departments to report. It can't force departments to notify interviewees in a timely manner.

On the Nov 15 rule: what if an evil university president REQUIRED all department searches fall early? This does happen. What is the department supposed to do: refuse the line? Lose a position to the profession as a result?

It's an imperfect system in an imperfect world. We can keep trying to make it better, but there are limits.

SC Member said...

Since this is anonymous I will lay out the numbers from our search.

We are looking for a tenure-track Latinist. We received a total of 107 applications. We interviewed a total of twelve at the APA and have invited two to campus thusfar. Only four of our APA interviewees were ABD, and about that same number had been in visiting positions for at least two years.

Anonymous said...

A question about the future of the job market: I've sensed a certain optimism about the state of the job market in Classics, perhaps driven by the numerous ads last Fall and the good percentage figures for, e.g., Latin lit. However, if 1) most of the desirable positions fill up in the space of, say, five years 2) the recycle rate of retirements and tenurings is slow, and 3) programs continue to pump out as many graduate students as they currently do, then is the situation a few years down the line actually very bleak indeed?

I'll be only too happy for someone to explode this scenario.

Anonymous said...

The retirement rate is slow, but that is not the primary problem, IMHO, nor will it be the primary solution when all the boomers start retiring/dying in 5 years. The Ph.D. production is a bit problematic but the linchpin is the increasing irrelevance placed upon classics by upper administration. Other than a few programs with a long-storied history like Berkeley, Harvard, Duke, etc., most are viewed as inmutable relics in an increasingly pragmatic world - dodo studies, if you will. This perception/trend has to be changed, but the ones in a position to do so, are the most conservative and least willing to do so. Well, the captain always DOES go down with the ship, eh?

Anonymous said...

That's really not the comfort I was fishing for! Let's face it, even with an optimistic estimate of potential growth, dept. expansion alone is never going to solve the problem (unless it suddenly becomes compulsory to do a humanities post-grad degree!). I can see that there may be just enough jobs in total out there; but I can't see there being enough desirable jobs. I know, I know, horses for courses, but still, we all have a collective sense of the parameters of "desirable", and I'm worried that the middle, let alone the top, will soon be squeezed. Can we really be sure the baby boomer retirement will be enough for a sample as small (and possibly non-standard) as Classics?

Anonymous said...

Well, healthy departments in the liberal arts and sciences at a R1 typically have 10-20 faculty - English, Anthropology, History, Biology, etc. usually have this. Classics? 10-20 is usually at one of the dozen elite programs - Princeton, Chicago, Michigan, Berkeley, etc. Regardless of an absolute number, the more important evaluation is how a classics departmenet, if it still exists independently, compares in size to other departments at the same institution.

Why the languishing number of faculty? Tradition and prestige. Classics is a philological club and the gateway, initiation courses are Greek 101 and Latin 101. Anything else would be considered less. There is no way you can grow a department in the 21st century with this philosophy. Yes, many departments give token lip-service to a "classical civilization" track, but how serious is it? It SHOULD be the flagship track in a department if it is to grow, but it's almost always the red-headed stepchild. Proof? Look at the distribution of faculty and their primary speciality of research. With all the recent craze in popular culture with Gladiator, 300, Troy, etc, classical studies should be going gang-busters. But instead of history and culture, potential majors get handed Wheelock and Hansen/Quinn. THAT is why 500 applicants each year fight for 50 tenure track jobs.

notanon11:39 said...

I agree to a large extent. Don't forget that many of these other disciplines have non-academic options after a Ph.D. Outside of teaching Latin or Greek at one of the diminishing number of high schools, there are few other options for classics Ph.Ds. If culture and history were supported better, it would also create more interests, and therefore jobs, in the museum sector and whatnot. As it stands, even classical art curatorial positions are under siege and increasingly marginalized at many museums. You snooze, you lose...

Anonymous said...

I made the two original posts about the future of the market. Thanks for the replies. I agree that a more aggressive positioning of Classics is a good idea. I do get the sense, however, that you're comparing Classics **unfavourably** with other disciplines, which is actually the opposite of what I originally implied (at least currently). Supervisors in other Humanities subjects are sometimes **discouraging** their students from going into academia. English, e.g., may have more faculty, but they also have a disproportionately larger field of candidates. I'd rather be in Classics. You're of course right, though, that increased enrollments at good institutions is the way forward. I have never understood why professional Classicists (as opposed to undergrads) see Classics as either a populist or prestige subject. Clearly it is both, depending on your audience at the time. A top graduate program should be able to produce Ph.D.s who can operate in both modes.

Anonymous said...

Well, with the increasing pressure and trend of combining classics into foreign languages, near eastern studies, and even anthropology outside of the dozen elite programs, it's obvious that classics will have to cast its net out further. The question now is whether it will be voluntary or involuntary. Would you rather have more "fringe" person in the department who do medieval latin, byzantine archaeology, Linear B, etc. or someone who does Spanish, Mayan archaeology, Arabic, etc.? I guess you could always pray you land a job with one of the elite programs who will march on into eternity mainly studying Catullus et al.

Yet Another Anon said...

Outside of teaching Latin or Greek at one of the diminishing number of high schools, there are few other options for classics Ph.Ds.

I'm not sure the "diminishing" part is correct. I thought Latin was actually growing in popularity, and that secondary schools are having trouble finding good Latin teachers.

Oughtn't one tactic, among many, be to encourage this growth? If students come to college already interested in Classics thanks to Latin or civ classes (Greek, I admit, seems unlikely) then these students help our enrollment numbers, and to a lesser extent our concentrator numbers.

Anonymous said...

Classics has many advantages in not being reducible to a single skill like a modern language, but rather a set of skills requiring an institutional framework. It cannot, for instance, simply be farmed out to adjunct instructors fluent in the relevant language (well, it can, but only in the full knowledge that this will be completely ineffective, which isn't the case for French, etc.). If the national languages ever get out of their utilitarian doldrums we may be in trouble though. And even more so when East Asian and South Asian area studies get off the ground, as they inevitably will. Is the only way for Classics to maintain its privileged status to become the master discipline for a Western civ. area study (which it used to be once upon a time)?

involuntarilymovedintoforeignlanguages said...

I agree - we should be working on making the pie bigger rather than serving as gatekeepers of some disciplinary ideal that results in us losing our institutional "keys."

truth about charlie said...

This might be of minor interest to most, but perusing through the lists of last year's jobs, if you isolate the TT positions at the elite schools, i.e., those that grant PhD's, one notices that candidates from a very small number of PhD programs tend to dominate those jobs.

According to my less than scientific reckoning,of 23 TT positions, grads of just five American depts filled 11 of them: Harvard (3), Princeton, Michigan, Berkeley, and Chicago (all 2 each). 4 were taken by Oxbridge grads, 3 by German PhDs, and 1 Australian. That leaves just 4 positions filled by the rest (in this case Cornell, Columbia, UNC, and Minnesota)

This is just one year, but it seems to correlate with conventional wisdom - that a super-elite dominates these kinds of jobs. Given that these positions are in the departments that produce graduate students, is that worrisome? Is it like hiring like? Or do the best quality people simply come from the best places?

Anonymous said...

On a slightly different note, 2 things:

1) The evidence confims anecdotal remarks that Princeton and Berkeley did exceptionally well last year (7 tt positions each).

2) The evidence also squashes overly rhetorical comments about some major schools doing surprisingly well or poorly. The other schools look as if they're all grouped roughly together, especially when one takes into consideration the natural deviations built into any single cycle (quality of candidates, jobs available, etc.).

The previous poster's remark about exclusivity, however, remains highly pertinent, and perhaps we should follow his/her lead in assessing this year's market (and other years' too when the info becomes available).

Anonymous said...

It seems that the real concern would be a fallback to the days of trading grad students - you hire mine and I'll hire yours. I suspect everyone would like to feel that they are not simply tokens of exchange in a network of alliances, like wives in Republican Rome.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7.50pm here. I wasn't suggesting dodgy trading, but rather that we should follow these trends in order to establish which programs were doing well not just in total jobs but also with regard to the most desirable jobs. Ideally, information would spread, competition would increase, and the problem of exclusivity would be reduced (it will never go away). A lot of our conclusions could probably be drawn from casual observation, but it's nice to have the figures when baseless arguments get trotted out (which occasionally happens on this or indeed any forum).

Anonymous said...

The data shows:

"According to my less than scientific reckoning,of 23 TT positions...4 were taken by Oxbridge grads, 3 by German PhDs, and 1 Australian."

I.e., 8 positions - nearly 30% of the jobs - were taken by people trained at foreign institutions! I hate to sound xenophobic, but rather than gripe about how these institutions hire from a small number of American schools, we should view the crisis differently. These schools are happy to produce PhD students, yet when it comes time to hire people to teach the students, there is a overwhelming preference for the outsider.

I'm shocked by the evidence, though I knew it already from personal experience. Far too often the departments I've been a part of (as a student and now as a teacher) have passed over perfectly well-qualified Americans for the foreigner who has no idea what constitutues academia here. (I once witnessed a German PhD ask what a master's degree was.) The foreigners who do come here flee the States the moment summer break begins, never learn English well and show disdain for their American students, who are never as good as the pupils "back home."

Cut down on the number of foreign PhDs in our midst and you'll see American schools going for PhDs from less-than-elite Stateside schools.

Personally - though I'd never admit it to anyone - I pass right over the applications of foreigners.

Anonymous said...

The American attitude to the free market is so wonderfully consistent...

Call me weird, but I like to hire the best candidate for the job. Probably makes me a communist. You can't trace my IP address right? Christ, I'd better make sure my papers are in order...

Anonymous said...

Maybe the post before last was a joke? Right? Please.

Anonymous said...

I'm with anonymous March 29th @ 6 PM. I think we should build big fences around our universities to keep these foreign academics out. They ruin our campuses, they don't even bother to learn English (especially the ones from England), they use all of our white-out and rubber cement, and they bring everyone's Greek-teaching wages down. When I see a run-down '87 Cutlass Ciera struggling through campus, blasting ranchero music, packed with eight or nine tweed-clad Dutch Classics professors, well, honestly, it just makes me sick. What has happened to our country?

And don't even get me started about the ones who get American Ph.Ds but aren't even American! Many of them are Islamofascists and the ones who aren't want to ruin our marriages with their sexy foreign accents. Sexy foreign accents = bad for American families.

Personally, I don't even like the idea of accepting out-of-state students to our Ph.D programs—why should the Great State of Texas pay to educate some prancing, America-hating vegan from Massachusetts?—and I think that should be our next battle, after we do the fence thing.

Anonymous said...

Quite a few people on this blog are anxious about a handful of American PhD programs dominating the market (11 of 23 positions last year).

Yet when someone points out that foreign institutions did nearly as well (8 of 23) people protest. "Hire the best candidate." "American attitude to the free market." Etc.

How can one be a problem and the other not?

Anonymous said...

A simple question - how can you tell from someone's application that he/she is a foreigner? It's not as if you are required to state your citizenship status anywhere in your application. What about Americans educated abroad? Or "foreigners" educated here?

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ March 30, 2008 9:44 AM is right. Hiring people from a few elite U.S. programs results in faculties that lack diversity of outlook and training, and so does hiring people from a variety of institutions in different parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

What I have noticed about European vs. American Ph.Ds is largely that European students often start with an advantage of many more years in Latin and Greek, as many European primary and secondary schools offer or indeed require these languages whereas they're unavailable at many American high schools.

Thus, in my experience a typical European Ph.D, in addition to being completely fluent in several of the required modern languages, may have 15 or 20 years of Latin schooling in comparison to the 8 or 10 of the American student. I'd be shocked if this didn't mean that they were often stronger philologists, especially if they learned Latin and Greek at more receptive ages.

So I don't fault search committees for being impressed by the language skills of these candidates; I am too.

It does seem a little frustrating from the American student perspective, though. I had no opportunity to take Greek until my freshman year of college, for instance, and while I started taking it then and continued through grad school courses, there was still a necessary limit to my amount of coursework. It also meant that much of my college career was spent on learning basic grammar and vocabulary rather than analyzing literature, rather a waste of the talents of my teachers.

In grad school, I often felt like I was playing catch-up to my European colleagues; while I was spending my summer studying Intensive German, they were free to work on more advanced projects.

The only solution I can really see is for American students to specialize in areas that our educational system may favor more, like history, archaeology, and material culture, or else to know at quite young ages that they want to be philologists so they can seek out the one school in their city that offers the requisite language training.

Any ideas? Am I totally wrong about the philological advantages of French/Dutch/Italian/German educational systems?

Anonymous said...

When I see a run-down '87 Cutlass Ciera struggling through campus, blasting ranchero music, packed with eight or nine tweed-clad Dutch Classics professors, well, honestly, it just makes me sick. What has happened to our country?

I have no comments on the merits of this debate, but I did want to say that this post made me spit out my coffee and pee my pants, at the same time.

This is one of the three greatest posts on this blog. Quick, give me directions to the Hall of Fame, 'cause I'm tacking this post to the doorframe.

Thank you, dear 4:13am, you made my morning!

Anonymous said...

When I said I like to hire the best candidate, that was regardless of whether they were foreign or from Antarctic Community College. One shouldn't be surprised, however, if the successful candidate comes from Cornell or Munich etc. - those institutions produce good candidates for a reason. As I've said before on this blog the repeated elision of Stanford with Chicago with Michigan with Harvard is simply misleading. They are quite different institutions all competing at a very high level.

Americans are already better trained in certain areas than their European counterparts. Just to take literature as an example, continental classicists *tend* to be less well-versed in theory than their American (and now British) counterparts. If a top hiring institution wants to get the best young philologist in the world their longlist *may* consist of more Europeans (though there are many excellent American philologists, so it's hardly a done deal). Conversely, if the institution is looking for a theorist their longlist *may* look very different (but again, there are many excellent European theorists, so there are still no guarantees). Why are some people so appalled by the idea that different countries and institutions follow different practices, and that there's a natural ebb and flow to national education and institutional success and failure? The best American universities, like Oxford and Cambridge, are global universities that seek to employ the best talent. If someone has something meaningful to say about our assessment of such talent then go ahead, but I've yet to hear it from the protectionists.

How on earth someone thinks that departments consisting of Americans, Europeans, and occasionally Australians are *not* diverse is beyond me (better a dept. consisting of personnel from ten American states?). We should all know perfectly well what the most pressing diversity issue is, and it's sure as hell not what institution one comes from...

Anonymous said...

When I see a run-down '87 Cutlass Ciera struggling through campus, blasting ranchero music, packed with eight or nine tweed-clad Dutch Classics professors, well, honestly, it just makes me sick. What has happened to our country?

This is absurd. No, worse. This is completely misleading.

Everybody knows that Dutch philologists prefer Buicks, particularly the 1972 Riviera Boattail. The '87 Ciera must have been on loan from an Italian Archaeologist.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's very easy to attack the person who raised this issue about foreign Ph.D.'s, and nobly state that you want the best candidate to get the job, regardless of country. But let me tell you: when you can point to an excellent job that very likely would have been yours, but instead went to someone from another country who got a Ph.D. overseas as well, this will NOT be such a black-and-white issue for you. (And not only that, but I can point to another job that I would have had an excellent shot at, though I can't be certain I would have gotten it, if not for foreign Ph.D.'s.)

I'd add that in my case it's far from clear that the other candidate was "better" than I am; it's just that the department was more interested in what he/she does. And I'll bet that's the case quite often when a foreign Ph.D. gets a job -- so the "best person for the job" argument crumbles a bit when one considers that hiring committees are making subjective decisions.

Again, I'm not trying to say "keep the foreigners out" or anything like that -- just that this is a more complicated issue than some of you appear to recognize.

Anonymous said...

"When I see a run-down '87 Cutlass Ciera struggling through campus, blasting ranchero music, packed with eight or nine tweed-clad Dutch Classics professors, well, honestly, it just makes me sick. What has happened to our country?"

I thought I was funny. I was wrong. You win.

Anonymous said...

Listen Anon 12.20am, no one begrudges you your personal irritation at not getting the job or jobs. And it may be that the committee made a poor decision. In which case I'm sorry for that. However, let's just look over your first email for a second:

1) "The foreigners who do come here flee the States the moment summer break begins, never learn English well and show disdain for their American students, who are never as good as the pupils "back home.""

Apart from the rank generalisation, what precisely is wrong with foreigners returning to their home country when they're not required to be here? And as one wag pointed out, who of the English and Australian students doesn't speak English well? And the Germans and Dutch whom I'm familiar with speak English fluently. Perhaps you're thinking of a problem more common in the sciences, but that doesn't concern us here. And perhaps you're mistaking foreigners' disdain for the fact that your public education system is *awful* and I don't use that word lightly. I have to make up for your college students what I was doing in high school - and this is the worrying thing - I'm not talking about language work, I'm talking about the ability to write and argue.

2) "Cut down on the number of foreign PhDs in our midst and you'll see American schools going for PhDs from less-than-elite Stateside schools."

But what if you're simply handicapping those universities with your protectionism? You haven't argued that your preference is better for them.

3) "Personally - though I'd never admit it to anyone - I pass right over the applications of foreigners."

I think it was at this point that you just plain asked for it. Please continue to ignore our applications so that we don't end up in your bigoted, second-rate department.

Anonymous said...

I've lost out on jobs to foreigners with foreign PhDs, foreigners with American PhDs, and Americans with American PhDs. In the future I'm going to try to lose out to an American with a foreign PhD for completion's sake. In each and every case I thought, and will think, that I could have done the job better. In some cases I may even be right. But you know what? The criteria of assessment will not include foreignness. Nor will they include Ivy League bias or similar suspicions unless I have good grounds for thinking that something fishy's going on (which does, sadly, happen from time to time).

SCs make all kinds of stupid decisions. Let's stop short of accusing them of outright and systematic prejudice without a single shred of evidence, which is effectively what you're doing with your accusations against blinkered SCs and bad foreign PhDs. (And no, the figures alone do not indicate prejudice, they indicate preference - there's a difference). And by the way you'll find out that forcibly reducing the number of foreigners will not miraculously improve the eyesight of SCs. Instead of getting beaten by a better foreigner, you'll probably just get beaten by a worse domestic. But if that makes you feel better...

anonymous 12:20 said...

Anonymous 12:53,
You jumped to the incorrect conclusion that the earlier post on this issue was mine. It wasn't.

But to state my own opinion, which I didn't do in my other post, I think that U.S. search committees have every right to hire a foreign Ph.D., but I think that it's their responsibility to do so only when that candidate is clearly the best. If it's only a matter of a marginal difference, and there is no other compelling reason to hire the foreign Ph.D., then I think committees should "Buy American."

As we all know, there is not a level playing field that lets Americans easily get jobs in Europe or elsewhere. And Canada, as I understand it, has a law that foreign Ph.D.'s can only be hired when there is not a qualified Canadian available for the position. I'm not sure if Europe has such laws, but in several countries there appear to be other systemic forces working against it. To my thinking, this is to the detriment of those countries, and we benefit by draining away their brains. But committees should at least think about the effect this is happening on American Ph.D.'s. There must be an ideal balance.

(By the way, in the second example I gave in my other message, about the job I'm not sure I would have gotten, it so happens that I know of a fellow American who is arguably better than I am, who also lost out to the foreign Ph.D. And while I am not familiar with the foreign Ph.D.'s work, I do know the work of the other candidate, and can state without hesitation that the foreign Ph.D. is unlikely to be better. Different, sure, but certainly not much better.)

Anonymous said...

Well, apologies for ascribing his/her ridiculous comments to you! (I suppose we should all have nicknames). To answer your own arguments, with which I still disagree (but less vehemently):

1) "If it's only a matter of a marginal difference, and there is no other compelling reason to hire the foreign Ph.D., then I think committees should "Buy American." At my own (fairly traditional) institution no important search (senior, t-t) has taken place where the committee has had to resort to this - American and foreign candidates have stood out and have won their respective jobs by their own merits. I'm sure there are more difficult cases, but I can't believe committees are so bereft of discernment they have to resort to nationality to decide them. If there were a dearth of Americans in the discipline I would be more inclined to agree with you - of course one can't let the tradition of Classics in the country disappear. But that's hardly the case now is it? As I said in an earlier post, there are more serious diversity issues getting lost amid what I take to be personal rancour about fundamentally less important issues.

2) I take your point about imbalance. However, I'm not actually sure how many American students *really* try (or want to try) the continental European market. Let's face it - we all fear their system's a mess, face considerable linguistic and cultural hurdles, and, frankly, want to get paid more. Britain does hire Americans, though again many are disinclined to pay the higher taxes and cost of living and to assume the greater administrative burden. Do we really know how many plausible American candidates (i.e., good ones) are applying abroad? Remember that most of those will be confident of finding work at home. The foreigners hired to good jobs here tend to be of good quality. You yourself make the point that American universities, especially the best ones, take advantage of that foreign talent. If continental universities are impoverishing their research by a lack of diversity (and funding), if Americans are flourishing in Classics (which they are in general), and if American universities are the premier institutions in the world, it's difficult to see the substance behind your concern.

Again, I'm sorry for the searches you've faced, especially if they transpired as you say (though it's of course hard to be sure). I'm certainly more sympathetic now that I know you were not the one who reacted by simply ignoring the Ph.D.s of foreign applicants.
I am curious about one thing (mentioned by an earlier poster) - how would you class foreigners holding American Ph.D.s?

Anonymous said...

A simple question - how can you tell from someone's application that he/she is a foreigner? It's not as if you are required to state your citizenship status anywhere in your application. What about Americans educated abroad? Or "foreigners" educated here?

You could probably guess from the undergrad institution.

I'm not clear on whether the Buy American brigade has a problem with the numbers of jobs given to foreigners educated here. I don't think anyone's even gone into those figures yet.

Anonymous said...

A simple question - how can you tell from someone's application that he/she is a foreigner? It's not as if you are required to state your citizenship status anywhere in your application. What about Americans educated abroad? Or "foreigners" educated here?

I have always let my nose be my guide in these matters. It's easy and it's fun! If an application is redolent of delicious Sauerbraten, it's from one of our good friends in Germany! On the other hand, if it makes you think of scrumptious chicken tikka masala, why, you can be sure you have an application from Dear Old Blighty in your hands! And of course, if it smells of Gauloises and ennui, you might be seeing a lot more berets and sailor shirts around the department next year, if you know what I mean!

That's how I decide which applications to ignore, anyway, and although I hate to speak for him/her, I bet our good buddy at March 29, 2008 @ 6:00 PM uses a system that's just as good, if not better, like maybe s/he tastes the applications, too, just to be sure.

Anonymous said...

"When I see a run-down '87 Cutlass Ciera struggling through campus, blasting ranchero music, packed with eight or nine tweed-clad Dutch Classics professors, well, honestly, it just makes me sick."

This is mildy offensive.

Anonymous said...

At first I found it mildly offensive as well, but then I wised up.

The poster is doing a very good job of pointing out how those who are worried about foreign PhDs coming over here and stealing our jobs sound like academic associates of Tom Tancredo. The "87 Ciera" post is a clever way of co-opting quasi-racist language in order to expose all this talk for what it is: academic xenophobia.

I thought it was a well-made point, personally.

Anonymous said...

Go back and read (some, at least) of what was written by those three or four posters. To dismiss everything written by those with whom you disagree as xenophobia is simplistic and narrow-minded, and unbecoming someone whose career presumably requires some amount of mental alacrity.

How low can you go, Cholissimo? said...

Go back and read (some, at least) of what was written by those three or four posters. To dismiss everything written by those with whom you disagree as xenophobia is simplistic and narrow-minded, and unbecoming someone whose career presumably requires some amount of mental alacrity.

Well, I went back and read the posts. Twice. I confess to remaining simplistic, narrow-minded and indolent of mind. But since you're such a keen and clever chap, maybe you can enlighten us!

Please, if you would be so kind, strip out the xenophobia and sour grapes, and illuminate the nuggets of wisdom contained in those posts. I just don't see how it can be done. Hiding behind a screen of faux-thoughtfulness just doesn't quite do it for me. However, as you've already pegged me as having a few plugs short of a good chew, I beg you to be patient, and prove me wrong.

anonymous 12:20 (of 3/31) said...

Anonymous 3:04 a.m.,
Good to see that some people can keep this discussion civil, without accusing others of xenophobia. To respond to your various points/questions:

Regarding your statement that “If there were a dearth of Americans in the discipline I would be more inclined to agree with you - of course one can't let the tradition of Classics in the country disappear,” I see it differently. In general, as anyone hanging around this blog knows, there are not enough jobs in classics/archaeology/etc. for all of those on the market. Foreign competition simply makes it harder for Americans to find jobs at American institutions. And I think that the lion’s share of jobs in this country should go to people who are its citizens. (Since obviously some people will misread that statement, I’ll state unambiguously that I am 100% pro-immigration. Obviously, it benefits this country immeasurably, especially when we draw off talented people from other countries. And saying that I want most classics jobs in the U.S. to go to U.S. citizens is NOT the same thing as saying I want to keep foreigners out, even if that’s what some people assume I think. I’m not some crazy standing on the border with binoculars and a shotgun.)

You are right to question the claim that many of us have that it would be difficult to impossible for Americans to apply for jobs in Europe, and thus to question my statement that the playing field is uneven. (Socrates would be proud.) I have no personal knowledge of this, not having tried. I do know that I keep hearing stories about how junior scholars in countries like Italy and Germany are unable to get jobs there because of the convoluted ways their systems work. I also can tell you that I have a friend from Europe who got his/her Ph.D. here and has been unable to find a teaching position in Europe (despite being quite good), and now is considering going back on the U.S. market next year. So regardless of whether the imbalance against American Ph.D.’s is deliberate (e.g., Canada) or a bi-product of being screwed up (e.g., Italy), I believe it to be a fact that there is not an equal opportunity for American Ph.D.’s to get jobs in other countries.

Your final paragraph was: “Again, I'm sorry for the searches you've faced, especially if they transpired as you say (though it's of course hard to be sure). I'm certainly more sympathetic now that I know you were not the one who reacted by simply ignoring the Ph.D.s of foreign applicants. I am curious about one thing (mentioned by an earlier poster) - how would you class foreigners holding American Ph.D.s?” My responses would be: 1) I would not have made those claims about my own job searches if I did not have a very good reason to believe I am right; 2) I am completely opposed to automatically rejecting candidates simply because they are foreigners; 3) I have absolutely no problem with foreign nationals who have U.S. Ph.D.’s getting jobs here.

I do want to say something about #2, since the other person posting on my “side” made a comment about how foreign nationals often do not communicate well in English. This can certainly be the case. I know someone who used to be at Johns Hopkins who told me that Marcel Detienne’s French accent was so thick and his way of speaking so impenetrable that undergrads could not understand his lectures, and it was decided that he would ONLY teach grad students. (Because he was Marcel Detienne that was acceptable.) I am sure that there are other non-native speakers whose lectures can be just as difficult. But the solution isn’t to look at an application, see the person is Italian/French/German/etc., and assume that he/she will be a bad teacher: the solution is to invite the person to campus and see if his/her job talk is communicated well, and perhaps put him/her (and the other candidates, too, of course), in front of the classroom. If there appears to be no problem, then it’s a non-issue to me.

Anonymous said...

And I think that the lion’s share of jobs in this country should go to people who are its citizens.

What policies would you advocate implementing in order to reduce the number of non-citizens hired at American institutions?

Anonymous said...

What policies would you advocate implementing in order to reduce the number of non-citizens hired at American institutions?

None.

Anonymous said...

What policies would you advocate implementing in order to reduce the number of non-citizens hired at American institutions?

None.


Is there anything short of policy that you would endorse to effect this end, then? In other words, is there someone doing something wrong right now and if so what should they do differently?

I'm trying to figure out if you think that things are unfair as they are but the alternatives are worse, or if you envision some course of action leading to a state of affairs that you find more just.

Anonymous said...

No, of course there shouldn't be a policy, nor is there a need for one, nor is justice an issue. Please read my earlier posts over a bit more carefully and you'll see that the only recommendation I've made is that search committees take into account this issue, and have nationality be one of the factors they consider. This would have the effect of perhaps preserving a few more jobs for American candidates, which because of the domino effect would mean that ultimately there would be a few more Americans who can stay in the field because they find a job.

I should also point out, and this has been in the news today, since 1996 the nation's immigration law has placed a limit of 65,000 "skilled" immigrants per year. This shows that it is NATIONAL POLICY not to accept an infinite number of foreign Ph.D.'s, engineers, etc., but to place some limit on the number and thus preserve jobs for Americans. So what I've been saying is actually in lockstep with with the philosophy behind a law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Republican president.

Anonymous said...

In response to the above posting, may I point out that institutions of higher learning are legally exempt from the H1-b visa cap. Turns out the government does not want to shut out foreigners from being hired at the university level.

Anonymous said...

On this entire discussion about foreigners:

a) It is wrong that foreigners are worse teachers than their American colleagues just because they aren't Americans. It is true that universities in America, like universities in all other countries, have their peculiarities; but frankly these aren't so impenetrable that they could not be learned by a willing foreigner. SC's will check if a foreign candidate is willing to learn and in general compatible with America, and I know that they do check. This is an additional hurdle that foreigners have to pass; but it is one that makes much more sense than the one suggested earlier, namely that SC's dismiss candidates just because they're foreign.

b) I don't understand all the fuzz. We're talking about a few individuals getting jobs at a very select range of institutions. I haven't done an exact count, but the number of jobs that go to foreign candidates is well below 10 per cent. And the institution where they get jobs are almost exclusively research institutions. Very very few foreigners teach at SLACs or State universities, and few I think would want to, because, frankly, teaching Latin (say) at an Italian Liceo classico is an intellectual more rewarding experience than teaching Latin at a less-than-average American state school.

c) Those institutions that do hire foreigners define themselves as the top institutions in the world, and it is only fair that their pool of candidates includes the best PhD's not just of America, but of the world. They don't do that in order to exclude anyone; they do it in order to abide by their own standards.

d) Nothing defines the great American way of life more than immigration; but nothing diminishes that greatness more than the petty fear of immigration. We all know that the immigration fear-mongers exist in both parties: in the Republican party, they're the likes of Tancredo; in the Democratic party they gather around the labor unions. It is only to be expected that congress and president at times have to bow to that lobby. But those who post on this blog about foreign scholars should consider whether or not they want to intellectually fraternize with the likes to Tancredo and the labor unions; whether they want to be with those who make America great or with those who make America petty.

e) This has an intellectual component. It's just true--and everyone who's done it can confirm it--that moving across national boundaries is intellectually enriching. Classics is being done in different ways in different countries, and it is better to have been exposed to, say, three such ways rather than one. It's true that some American grad students go abroad; but by being exposed to a different system I don't mean spending a year at the American Academy amongst other Americans without ever meeting your colleagues at La Sapienza; I mean to subject one's research to eyes trained in a different tradition, to teach in a different system and by different standards, and to apply for that other system's jobs.

e) No issue benefits from heated discussion; but none is damaged more than immigration. It is easy for those who did bad on this year's job market to blame their experience on foreign competition; and it is easy for those who take a different view to accuse them of xenophobia. My post indicates on whose side I am; but I think we'd all benefit from some verbal disarmament and mutual respect.

Anonymous said...

nor is justice an issue

I wonder if you have a preferred term? "Fairness?" For the principle being violated by the aggregate decision-making of search committees? The implicit principle, that is, enabling you to say that in your judgment more jobs "should" go to U.S. citizens?

the only recommendation I've made is that search committees take into account this issue, and have nationality be one of the factors they consider.

Do you have in mind a mechanism for causing search committees to take this issue into account? That is, each individual committee presumably is currently doing what it believes is in its department's best interest (except in "dysfunctional" departments). By what means do you think we could cause any given search committee to recalculate its interest? For my part, I would imagine that the spectrum of possible actions varies from, say, an "awareness campaign" appealing to the plight of American Ph.Ds to a system of caps or quotas. I'm not sure however that there is anything within that spectrum that would both (a) have any kind of effect and (b) not be draconian and self-defeating and the sort of thing I join with you in rejecting. If there is such an option, people might like to know about and discuss it. If there isn't, people might like to know that as well, so that they can try to think of other things that might work.

I should also point out, and this has been in the news today, since 1996 the nation's immigration law has placed a limit of 65,000 "skilled" immigrants per year. This shows that it is NATIONAL POLICY not to accept an infinite number of foreign Ph.D.'s, engineers, etc., but to place some limit on the number and thus preserve jobs for Americans. So what I've been saying is actually in lockstep with with the philosophy behind a law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Republican president.

Given that in this moment few people in any part of the political spectrum are very happy one way or another with U.S. immigration policy, appealing to it as a standard of wisdom or of what is broadly politically acceptable seems to me ill-advised.

In principle of course the federal government can do this. The question is whether this should be extended to cover colleges and universities in order ultimately to affect the behavior of search committees. But this would very much fall under the rubric of policy, I think, and so I don't think you support it.

Anonymous 12:40, etc. etc. said...

Even though I disagree with some of the points and nuances of Anonymous 1:16's position, I'd be happy to let the debate end there, since it is a moderate, balanced statement. But since Anonymous 1:39 asks some questions of me, I'll answer (briefly):

1) Fairness and justice have nothing to do with it. It simply is what it is, without moral dimension.

2) No, of course I don't have a mechanism. Half of this blog is devoted to people sharing their opinions about how things could be better, and hardly any of those suggested improvements can be imposed on the field, or academia as a whole. This is no different.

3) Saying that people are unhappy with the government and therefore federal law is a poor justification misses my point. At least one person called me (along with the other person posting) a xenophobe, so I was trying to show that that's an absurd claim to make when our national body politic holds that position. (And in response to another poster, I did not know that classics professors were exempt, though I suspected it. But it doesn't take away from my larger point, which is that I don't think I should be called an extremist when my position is demonstrably mainstream.)

Anonymous said...

Even though I disagree with some of the points and nuances of Anonymous 1:16's position, I'd be happy to let the debate end there, since it is a moderate, balanced statement. But since Anonymous 1:39 asks some questions of me, I'll answer (briefly):

Oh, no. You're not getting away that easily... :)

1) Fairness and justice have nothing to do with it. It simply is what it is, without moral dimension.

Surely you are not saying that you have no reason whatever for believing that American Ph.Ds should receive a larger share of tenure track positions. Don't you mean that as citizens Americans have a right to preferential consideration of some kind and degree for positions in American universities? This is not an ethically egalitarian position, but it is an ethical position all the same, not to mention a common one.

2) No, of course I don't have a mechanism. Half of this blog is devoted to people sharing their opinions about how things could be better, and hardly any of those suggested improvements can be imposed on the field, or academia as a whole. This is no different.

True. But if I am not mistaken you began by defending debate on this matter on the grounds that it is a serious and complicated issue that merits consideration, not as a question of wishing in vain that things were otherwise. In that case your defense of the cat who ignores applications from Frenchy should have been that he can say whatever he wants without objection simply because he is an angry guy who doesn't like foreigners and feels frustrated and needs to vent, not because the matter he wants to talk about is a serious and complicated issue that merits consideration.

3) Saying that people are unhappy with the government and therefore federal law is a poor justification misses my point. At least one person called me (along with the other person posting) a xenophobe, so I was trying to show that that's an absurd claim to make when our national body politic holds that position. (And in response to another poster, I did not know that classics professors were exempt, though I suspected it. But it doesn't take away from my larger point, which is that I don't think I should be called an extremist when my position is demonstrably mainstream.)

I do not think that you are a xenophobe or an extremist. I do not however think that showing that something is enshrined in U.S. law demonstrates that it is ipso facto not xenophobic (indeed our history argues strongly against that) or even necessarily mainstream. Its presence there may or may not mean that xenophobia is mainstream and not extremist, however I would tend to think that xenophobia is bad whether a mainstream or an extremist position, and that extremism might be fine if xenophobia is mainstream. In any case a thing is not "xenophilic" or neutral simply because it is mainstream.

However I do think that your having implied that you thought that this was a serious matter inclined people to think that you might want to propose steps to prevent foreigners from getting hired, and that this may have appeared to them to be in the neighborhood of xenophobia. But now that we know you don't want to do any of these things and were just talking in a fantasy counterfactual about how it would be better if fewer foreigners were hired in the U.S., I don't doubt but that fewer people will be inclined to regard you as a xenophobe.

And now we can all go back to mocking and marginalizing the guy who covers his eyes when he sees a many-vowelled name on an application, if that has not been done adequately already.

Anonymous said...

As an observer of this debate who has not yet participated and who has not yet taken sides in my mind, I wanted to ask about a particular aspect.

Let me pose two questions.

1) Do parents have an obligation to provide their own children basic but adequate nutrition BEFORE feeding other children?

2) Does a government have an obligation to take care of its own citizens before taking care of other citizens (think resources for Katrina victims before aid to foreign nations)?

I ask #2 knowing that it is a simplistic question -- the US has to balance all sorts of needs, and it is not simply a question of channeling resources to our own poor before sending them abroad. Yet I can't help being put in mind of it by one poster's claim that it is not nearly as easy for Americans to get employed in European/Commonwealth universities as it is for Europeans/Commonwealth to be employed here. If this is true, the reasons are as much about institutional norms and fear of unknown territory as they are about EU or national regulations. Even so, do we feel any obligation to take that into account? I suspect that even given barriers EU/Commonwealth universities might put up against hiring Americans, that American Classicists still have a better shot at getting a job than their European/Canadian/Commonwealth counterparts. After all, they are already here, networking and making a name for themselves, in the country where there are (presumably) more jobs offered in Classics each year than all European/Commonwealth nations combined. Does that sort of negate the advantage Europeans/Commmonwealth citizens might have in being able to access all available markets? Does that even matter? Do we have an obligation to help out our own needy PhD students? Or do we let market forces sort things out?

Honestly, I'm just thinking out loud. I don't really know what I'm talking about. Feel free to trash any/all of this post.

Anonymous said...

I don't think well-educated, mostly privileged, academics who could easily get jobs in any number of fields should be compared to people who need charitable support and who have been deprived of opportunities and resources most of us would consider basic. The free market - if it has any value - should have greater reign amongst people and institutions which have the luxury of much choice and wealth (whether in or out of Classics). Harvard or Yale or Michigan should be allowed to employ whomever they want - they are multibillion dollar insitutions competing with a small group of peer institutions for an proportionally small sample of eccentric personnel. To be honest, I'm not sure I even agree with protectionism for call center staff, but it really is ridiculous to apply trade and industry arguments to something as boutique as Classics (especially when there are plenty of excellent Americans employed entirely on their own merits).

Anonymous said...

I think the question is more if you are from Gondawanaland, how do you feel about losing out to a candidate from Pangaea, when you have no chance yourself of ever being employed in Pangaea. I guess you can argue that employment in Gondawanaland is more desirable than in Pangaea (always debatable unless Pangaea is racked by plague, despotism, or war), but still, those from Gondawanaland don't get to decide that for themselves. Obviously if Gondawanaland is very free-market, we shouldn't make its universities prioritize Gondwanaland candidates, but on the other hand, and likewise we can't demand that Pangaea universities stop hiring only Pangaea citizens. That doesn't mean that we can't see a problem there.

I actually thought the trade/aid/industry analogy was fine, because obviously the poster was not saying that privileged academics are equal to society's weak and neglected -- it was just a way of thinking about things in a different light. The "I'm more liberal and socially conscious than you" retort was a little unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what people mean by 'privileged.' I have a family to support and don't have any sort of trust funds or investments or family to fall back on. I need a job. Maybe some of you are in this for the hell of it, but many of us also need to actually make a living at it and are ill-suited or even, dare I say it, un-hirable outside of academia.

Anonymous said...

As you might guess, I flatly disagree. The fact that anyone would even draw on such an analogy is revealing. It reveals how poor our sense of proportion and context is when dealing with the rather peculiar status of academia, and the even more peculiar status of something as small as classics within academia. The analogy may have been intended to get us thinking in a "different light", but it got me thinking precisely how misleading much of the protectionist rhetoric has been on this blog. I mean no "holier than thou" retort - my point was not that the analogy was in poor taste, rather that it was just plain misleading.

Top universities have a mission to make the best research and teaching happen in the US. One of the ways they achieve this is by hiring the best candidates. What goes on in Pangaea may be irritating, but it has nothing to do with what US institutions do or should do. The US (and indeed foreign resident) taxpayer is paying for their universities to be the best, not to hire five worse American classicists for five better foreign classicists.

On the trade imbalance issue, perhaps the US govt. should take the inequality up with Pangaea? But let's not pretend that even in ideal circumstances there would be a significant change in the US / Pangaea balance of trade (a hell of a lot would have to change both in Pangaea that had nothing to do with classics and in the desires and goals of US classicists). I suspect the govt. has more important things to attend to.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what people mean by 'privileged.' I have a family to support and don't have any sort of trust funds or investments or family to fall back on. I need a job. Maybe some of you are in this for the hell of it, but many of us also need to actually make a living at it and are ill-suited or even, dare I say it, un-hirable outside of academia.

I suspect the point of contrast was underprivileged people who need protection and those who do not. I don't think the post had anything to do with owning yachts, etc.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I suspect none of us are actually "un-hirable," even if we would strongly prefer jobs in academia. Believe me, there are tons of jobs out there in the secondary education system, in tutoring, in libraries, and in community colleges, not to mention the regular business world where people would be delighted to hire someone with the skills of anyone on this list.

As someone who temped for extra money several summers during graduate school, I can state that my managers thought my writing and creative skills were impressive and I got offered multiple jobs in secretarial/ad design firms. That's not because I happen to be good at making Powerpoint slides; that's because college and grad school taught me useful sets of transferable skills.

Now, that's not what I would _like_ to be doing, and I certainly think, like everyone else on this list, that I'm best suited to a job in academia. But have a sense of perspective, folks. We are all highly skilled, trained professionals, and there are many jobs out there that would use at least most of our brains.

Your options are not either teaching at Princeton or reciting Homer on the streets for nickels, easy as it is at this point in the season to sink into the morass of despair.

May April bring bouquets of job offers to everyone who needs them.

Anonymous said...

We should all know perfectly well what the most pressing diversity issue is, and it's sure as hell not what institution one comes from...

Out of curiosity, would the person who posted this originally care to elaborate? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ethnic and socio-economic diversity.

Anonymous said...

"As you might guess, I flatly disagree. The fact that anyone would even draw on such an analogy is revealing."

Actually, I'm the one who made the analogy, and I am from a very poor background. I don't know what you think it reveals. Maybe you think I've been brainwashed by the establishment. I was "raised" in a home where pests were more prevalent than regular meals, and I worked my way through high school and college as a janitor. I went without dental or medical care for years. I'm not trying to lay my sob story on you -- I'm just pointing out that your assumption that my comment is revealing about my understanding of my place in the world is ill-founded. I was just trying to provoke discussion.

Anon 10:47pm said...

Ethnic and socio-economic diversity.

Bingo. I completely agree. We are losing sight of this need here.

Classics has been the preserve of the elite for far too long. Now that higher education is itself (much too gradually) becoming more widely accessible then the professoriate should begin to reflect that socio-economic diversity. This is in the interest of the field, as well as in the interest of the institutions in which we work and teach.

[warning: mini rant] The most difficult thing about graduate school for me was the enormous class divide between me and 90% of my classics classmates. I didn't go to a tony high school, and I didn't go to a tony college. I don't have access to the sort of capital (financial and social) most classicists do, and it makes my position in the field that much more difficult. Now that I am on the market I don't have family resources that will enable me to survive the failure to find a job. No job equals no food and no shelter, so if nothing comes up then I will simply have to find something to do in private industry. Now, I do think that won't be much of a problem, but doing so while going through the market again will be very, very hard. So when people talk about the field "losing" people due to external factors (foreigners, etc.) I think they are missing the larger group of individuals at real peril. [end rant]

Sorry for hijacking the thread. Blech, this all sucks, so good look to whomever needs it.

Anonymous said...

In simultaneous discussions with multiple anonymous people things can get a little mixed-up, so first, apologies for any offence caused, and second, let me clarify:

I took issue with the analogy between parents/charitable aid and classicists not because I thought it was in poor taste nor because I thought you had no knowledge of the former, but because I thought the very fact of drawing the analogy might get people thinking the wrong way about the employment of a few classicists at a few universities. Whatever your personal background you must agree that most classicists are likely to be middle class and all are sufficiently intelligent and well-educated to choose from a number of possible careers. So given the small scale of the employment area in question, its relative lack of importance, and the particular capabilities of the people involved, the slightest hint of a governmental duty of protection seems (to me at least) *wildly* out of place. If I seemed a little short I'm sorry, it springs from an anxiety and a frustration that people are using already poor arguments in the world of trade and then compounding the problem by inappropriately applying those arguments to classics. I see the consequence as almost unequivocally negative. I wasn't, however, taking issue with your questions. As it happens your story is timely, since it touches directly on the socio-economic and ethnic issues I've been hinting at for some time. Now, that is a problem.

Anonymous said...

"the slightest hint of a governmental duty of protection seems (to me at least) *wildly* out of place"

Okay, although I would never ever think that the government should step in. I was merely musing whether we as a community felt any responsibility toward American graduate students. I'm certainly inclined to say no -- let the market sort it out, even if we don't have a shot at European jobs. It really was just a brain exercise that did not reveal anything about what I feel I'm owed.

Anonymous said...

As it happens your story is timely, since it touches directly on the socio-economic and ethnic issues I've been hinting at for some time. Now, that is a problem.

Well, if we shouldn't establish a formal system to encourage the protection/preferment of Americans, what mechanism can the field use in order to advance the cause of candidates from a lower socio-economic background, or those from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds?

Anonymous said...

if we shouldn't establish a formal system to encourage the protection/preferment of Americans, what mechanism can the field use in order to advance the cause of candidates from a lower socio-economic background, or those from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds?

Is this something that happens at the hiring stage? That is, in pools of candidates are search committees showing a marked preference for rich, white candidates? It seems to me that the problem is that we have too few non-white people and too few people from backgrounds low on the economic ladder pursuing Classics in the first place. Although I may be wrong about this, I don't think that non-white Ph.Ds are having things any worse than white ones once they have their Ph.Ds, and I doubt that many search committees can tell much otherwise about the social background of candidates. So I think what we have is an *attraction* or *retention* problem earlier in the academic process. Not enough color on faculties may be part of that attraction and retention problem, though.

In other words, I think the real fixing is to be done at stages that precede anyone being a candidate at all.

Bigger_Thomas said...

"Although I may be wrong about this, I don't think that non-white Ph.Ds are having things any worse than white ones once they have their Ph.Ds, and I doubt that many search committees can tell much otherwise about the social background of candidates."

Spoken like a white person. The humanities in general are much more subjective in it hiring practices. With it's dearth of jobs and severe inbreeding among a few programs and a thousand or so tenured faculty with one degree of separation, classics is especially prone to subjective factors. Much depends on how you smooze and fit in during the interview process. You don't believe that being white gives candidates an edge? If not, classics really is in worse shape than I thought when it comes to outlook and diversity.

Another factor is Greek and Latin - you have a much better chance of being exposed to the languages at an early age by attending white-dominated schools, private and public. Even at the college level, the best programs to learn the languages are at largely white schools in the Northeast. Do you believe a black person attending Florida A&M has equal footing with someone attending Florida State when it comes to Classics? How about the American Indian attending the University of Montana or the Pacific Islander attending the University of Hawaii?

Bigger_Thomas said...

Before someone mentions a black person attending Mighican, realize that many non-whites matriculating at a school of this stature are usually the first in the family to do so. For those of you with no clue, when you've "made it" as the first person in your family to attend college or at least one of Michigan's stature, you are likely heading for a practical career choice - law, medicine, engineering. Even if a black person somehow ends up in classics, it's like going to school in a foreign culture. You're not only surrounded by white people, but largely homogenous white people who come from middle or upper-middle class, suburban backgrounds. You will also not get sympathy from folks back home who don't understand why you're wasting your money and time on the whitest of endeavors. THAT, among many reasons, is why there are so few non-whites in classics.

Anon 10:47pm said...

Well said, Bigger. A tiny bit of infelicitous rhetoric with the opening salvo/sentence, but I hope that doesn't encourage people to side-step the important truth in your two posts.

Rather than worrying about "hiring" strategies, we need to think about more basic recruitment strategies. More Latin in the secondary schools, extending the franchise beyond the rather narrow elite, be more bold about showing how Classics can be a "practical" degree? I suspect that this tails into the philology vs. mc/culture debates, but I won't go there. Gotta run to class now, but am looking forward to how people respond to these posts. Thanks for speaking your mind without a lot of hemming and hawing.

Anonymous said...

In other words, I think the real fixing is to be done at stages that precede anyone being a candidate at all.

When I'd initially raised the point this was actually what I was thinking of: outreach, making the case for the practicality of any degree (but also for the particular benefits of classics), etc. Diversity hires, as cack-handed a temporary solution as one can find, should still be recognised as that - temporary solutions designed to lead into better solutions in the future. As for the discrepancy between protecting Americans wholesale and increasing the presence of the under-represented - well, there you have it: Americans are not under-represented in classics (at the faculty level) in the same way as ethnic minorities and those from the poorest backgrounds. We can expect some inequalities, but the current imbalance is alarming, no?

Anonymous said...

"Diversity hires, as cack-handed a temporary solution as one can find, should still be recognised as that - temporary solutions designed to lead into better solutions in the future."

As fraught with difficulty as your suggestion might sound, is it that preposterous? We're not engineers - the difference between someone graduating from Berkeley vs. Howard University is not nearly as crucial or significant for a classicist. We don't need nuclear reactors, fancy labs, or nobel laureate advisors, just a decent library and a good classics advisor, of which there are plenty. Would there really be a significant drop-off if Michigan hired a black Latinist or a Chinese-American Roman archaeologist? They would surely be as qualified but bring the added advantage of luring minorities into the discipline - give it "street cred" just as Tiger did for golf. Like always attracts like. So what if they can't make white faculty feel comfortable. EEO offices should tell classics and other minority-deficient departments that they get a "free" hire IF the person is a visible minority - take it or leave it. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if many classics departments "leave it."

Anonymous said...

The fault, dear Brutus...

In fact, I think a lot of both issues does fall on the shoulders of grad programs, but it is not how they make their choices in *hiring* that is the problem. It is how they make their choices in recruiting studnts, and how they train and support those students doing the degree. (This goes for minority students and ALL students too)

If - as is true in most places - students are coming in with less Latin or Greek, we should not lower the requirements for getting the PhD but rather come up with ways for them to make up the ground and be competitive candidates on their own merits.

The answer is NOT that students should specialize in areas where US schools might be 'stronger' already. It is for grad programs to assess themselves and make themselves as strong as any program out there, by hiring good people regardless of the stamps on their passport and asking those people to take responsibility for training the next generation. Schools should study how the 'best' candidates are being trained, and think about how their students can compete in today's market. They should also probably admit fewer students so that they can really cultivate those they've got.

Anonymous said...

Bigger_Thomas,

Spoken like a white person.
Right. Uh. OK, moving right along, then...

The humanities in general are much more subjective in it hiring practices. With it's dearth of jobs and severe inbreeding among a few programs and a thousand or so tenured faculty with one degree of separation, classics is especially prone to subjective factors. Much depends on how you smooze and fit in during the interview process. You don't believe that being white gives candidates an edge? If not, classics really is in worse shape than I thought when it comes to outlook and diversity.

I call your attention to the reports of the APA Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups for 2000-2004, the latest data available. At the bottom of this page are two big pdfs breaking down the cumulative data from that committee's annual survey of the job market for those years. In the first pdf look at figs. 46-49 on pp. 25-26, "percent of candidates with minority status," "average number of interviews by candidates' minority status," "percent of candidates obtaining academic positions by minority status," and "percent of candidates obtaining tenure-track/tenured positions." In the second, look at Cumulative Tables 48-50 on p. 2: "average number of interviews by candidates' minority status," "percent of candidates obtaining academic positions by minority status," and "percent of candidates obtaining tenure-track/tenured academic positions."

In brief, what these show is that 1). in any given year there is a minuscule number of minorities on the market (4.1% to 5% of the pool) 2). minorities and non-minorities receive about the same number of interviews each and are hired at about the same rate into both all academic positions and into tenure-track/tenured positions. Some years it's less, some years it's more, and the main variable is minorities, whose sample size is consistently so small that the percentage of minorities getting a position can vary a lot from year to year.

Now, you can say that these numbers don't matter because the sample size is so tiny, but that itself serves to support my suspicion that our primary problem is in recruiting minorities to Classics and in retaining them in the field up to the point at which they go on the job market. Whatever is going on after Ph.D. seems—again, seems from a small sample—to be a pretty even distribution of positions across the pool, without regard for minority status.

I agree with everything else you said. I think that all of those things you brought up are extremely important and consequential; all of them take their toll well before it's a question of anyone being on the job market, and that's why I think efforts should be focused there. I mean, consider that as things are now even if every single minority on the job market was hired into a t/t-t positon every year, because there are so few on the market in any given year there would still be a minuscule number of minorities on Classics faculties, and too few to keep the representation of minorities at a level even approaching minority representation in the general representation.

Now *that* is one Hell of a big problem.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, "Cumulative Tables 48-50 on p. 22" not on "p.2."

Anonymous said...

"Would there really be a significant drop-off if Michigan hired a black Latinist or a Chinese-American Roman archaeologist?"

While I agree with you, I want to propose that there is a significant drop-off...that is, in the point of view of your average SC. Bear with me here.

While departments such as computer science and kinesiology use metrics that are largely void of culture, humanities departments are almost always inherently "white," Western disciplines, and classics is arguably the worst offender.

You are rewarded for your rhetoric and loquaciousness - characteristics that are largely a part of the white, western tradition and not usually as cherished by other cultures. So in essence, "whiteness" is a vital metric when it comes to judging how suitable a candidate is for most classics positions.

Anonymous said...

EEO offices should tell classics and other minority-deficient departments that they get a "free" hire IF the person is a visible minority - take it or leave it. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if many classics departments "leave it."

To the contrary. If this were instituted nationwide, there wouldn't be an unemployed minority Classics Ph.D. in the country, so few minorities are there in the hiring pool and so many departments would give their right arm to have a tenure-line that didn't count against their cap, whether minority-specific or not. You can tell departments that they can have a "free hire," but you can't conjure candidates out of thin air. We are literally talking about only 12-16 minority candidates interviewing at the APA in any given year between 2000-2004, and some of those are of course, as many of the readers here know all too well, the same people from one year to the next.

Anonymous said...

"So in essence, "whiteness" is a vital metric when it comes to judging how suitable a candidate is for most classics positions."

And also in picking a presidential candidate. That's why Hilary is so pissed - she's being "out-whited" by a black person who could bury her using any rhetorical metric.

Anonymous said...

"You can tell departments that they can have a "free hire," but you can't conjure candidates out of thin air."

No, but it would encourage minorities to enter the field. Before anyone says it is stealing jobs from white people, this policy would likely make the "pie" bigger by luring more students into the discipline. More students=more faculty.

"and some of those are of course, as many of the readers here know all too well, the same people from one year to the next."

But why are these people coming back year after year? Surely they graduated from a decent program? Do they have less potential for producing scholarship? Could it BE that not being white gives others an edge over them? An edge that is crucial in such a competitive market?

Anonymous said...

humanities departments are almost always inherently "white," Western disciplines, and classics is arguably the worst offender.

You are rewarded for your rhetoric and loquaciousness - characteristics that are largely a part of the white, western tradition and not usually as cherished by other cultures. So in essence, "whiteness" is a vital metric when it comes to judging how suitable a candidate is for most classics positions.


Look, we don't have a lot of minorities in faculty positions in Classics. Minorities seem to be hired proportionately at about the same rate as non-minorities, but represent a small amount of the total candidate pool. If degree of "whiteness" determines which 1/3 of minority candidates is hired in any given year, what determines which 1/3 of non-minority candidates is hired? Would the other 2/3s of minority candidates also be hired if they just were more "white"?

By the way, I would very much like to see you explain to current minority faculty members in Classics that their "whiteness" has been one of the keys to their success.

Finally, I'm intrigued by your contention that language is a big deal to white people but not so much to other people, and I wonder if you'd like to elaborate on this hilariously wrong notion at length.

Anonymous said...

"Diversity hires, as cack-handed a temporary solution as one can find, should still be recognised as that - temporary solutions designed to lead into better solutions in the future."

As fraught with difficulty as your suggestion might sound, is it that preposterous?


Sorry, I was trying - a little too concisely, I guess - to imply both the unsatisfactory nature of the solution and at the same time its temporary necessity. I wasn't suggesting that diversity hires should be ruled out - the opposite in fact - merely that when they are put into play we should all acknowledge the problems:

1) The hires themselves, while happy about getting a job, are of course tarred with the "you only got the job 'cos you're not white" brush. No matter the quality of the candidate.

2) Other classicists are suspicious about the quality of the candidate and call into question the fairness of the whole system.

3) It's not always clear what the diversity candidate is supposed to do. Just be a coloured face on campus? Be more invested in recruitment / outreach than his/her white colleagues?

4) Diversity hires at this current stage often have to be from outside the US because, frankly, if colour is what matters (and not nationality or socio-economic background) good non-white classicists are sometimes going to be middle-class candidates from abroad. Now that may have some value, but it's clearly going to be different from hiring, say, an African American candidate.

5) Why not hire white candidates in diversity positions if those candidates are strenuously committed to all things "diverse" (in their scholarship, teaching, outreach, etc.)? Sometimes the face may be less important than the community efforts the individual might make.

Does anyone know of administration-sponsored diversity hires? One Ivy League institution is certainly trying to make some moves (as opposed to vain wailing about frustrated efforts to recruit). Recycling the same non-white people from one top institution to another is, let's be honest, a little amusing (or at least it would be amusing if it didn't mask the more serious problem below). I'd be interested to hear what people have to report.

Anonymous said...

But why are these people coming back year after year? Surely they graduated from a decent program? Do they have less potential for producing scholarship? Could it BE that not being white gives others an edge over them? An edge that is crucial in such a competitive market?

I would assume that minorities are on the job market multiple years in a row for the same reason that non-minorities are: in the previous years, they weren't offered a tenure-track job. The only data we have, which I cited above, suggests that minorities and non-minorities are hired (and therefore also not hired) at the same rates into both all academic positions and tenure-track/tenured positions. So every year about the same percentage of minorities and of non-minorities has to go back out there and look again.

The one, significant caveat, as I have said, is that the sample size of minorities is so small. Maybe that tiny sample is concealing a far more hostile (or more friendly, for that matter) environment out there. So yes, it could be that not being white is putting non-white minorities at a disadvantage in hiring decisions. But some data is better than none, and what we've got tends to suggest that, in the aggregate (a question completely apart from that of individual cases), it isn't.

Anonymous said...

"You can tell departments that they can have a "free hire," but you can't conjure candidates out of thin air."

No, but it would encourage minorities to enter the field. Before anyone says it is stealing jobs from white people, this policy would likely make the "pie" bigger by luring more students into the discipline. More students=more faculty.


I am not persuaded that the difficulty of getting an academic position is what is driving away minority candidates from Classics. It's even harder to get jobs in other fields of the humanities, and minorities are better represented there. And the difficulty of getting a position certainly doesn't seem to drive people in general away from graduate education: the market is horrible, everybody knows this, and yet lemming-like we march onwards.

There is rather, I think, something about and/or going on in Classics in particular that is causing it not to find and connect with minority students, and so minority students disproportionately pursue things other than Classics. I think that we should try to fix that.

I also don't understand why we are focusing on an element of the profession in which things actually seem to be equally sh!tty for everybody, with minorities and non-minorities not getting jobs at roughly the same rate, and ignoring all the incredibly important and much more lopsided matters big_thomas raised above at April 2, 2008 10:44 AM and April 2, 2008 10:52 AM (well, not so much the part where he dismisses me as a white person, but after that).

Anonymous said...

"I am not persuaded that the difficulty of getting an academic position is what is driving away minority candidates from Classics."

No, it might not be a disincentive, but it's not actually serving as an incentive either. And the tougher the competition gets, it's usually minorities who have historically lost out, even in the best case scenario when all other things are equal. Blacks, Irish, Chinese...it doesn't matter. In the worst case scenario, you were just screwed like the American Indians. I think Classics falls somewhere in between the best and worst case scenarios - a daunting task we should not underestimate for a minority. You think you have a tough time getting a job? Multiple that at least 3X for a minority.

Anonymous said...

No, it might not be a disincentive, but it's not actually serving as an incentive either.

We're talking about a decision that students are in effect making early in their college career. It's not as though even a guaranteed job as a Classics professor would be enough to cause anyone at all to submit to 10-12 years of education in Greek and Latin. You won't do it unless you view it as interesting and valuable, period. There are far faster and more painless ways to secure reliable and moderately-paid employment doing things you aren't interested in or dislike. For me, that would have to be a guaranteed job plus one that paid several times what corporate law does, since it's only three years of boring law school. Plus, show me somebody writing a dissertation they're not interested in, and I'll show you somebody who's never, ever going to file anyway.

Really, I'm telling you, we're not getting too few minorities into Classics because of a lack of ironclad job prospects. We're not getting them because they are disproportionately getting sh!tty education before college, because we're disproportionately not getting them into college, because we're disproportionately not attracting them while they're in college, and because they're disproportionately going to colleges where there's not enough Classics presence. See here, again, bigger_thomas above. This is where the historic and current weight of racism in America affects who goes into this discipline, not, by all the evidence I can find, at the very last stage when Ph.D.s are being hired.

I think that diversity should in fact be taken into consideration in hiring decisions. I would be happy with the "free hire" scenario. What I am saying is that these amount to a piss in the ocean unless we do something about this colossal other problem, and that what is keeping us from having strong minority representation in Classics is what is going on when kids are 10, 15, and 20.

And the tougher the competition gets, it's usually minorities who have historically lost out, even in the best case scenario when all other things are equal. Blacks, Irish, Chinese...it doesn't matter. In the worst case scenario, you were just screwed like the American Indians. I think Classics falls somewhere in between the best and worst case scenarios - a daunting task we should not underestimate for a minority. You think you have a tough time getting a job? Multiple that at least 3X for a minority.

As I have now said many times, all of the data I can find suggests that in the first half of the 2000s there was no identifiable advantage or disadvantage to being a minority in Classics hiring decisions. Please see my comment above at April 2, 2008 12:57 PM. That however says nothing about real and historic wrongs, and it may be appropriate to remedy those with hiring preferences. Again, though, hiring a couple more people a year isn't going to make much of a difference to anybody but that couple of people, to whom admittedly it will make a very great difference.

Also as I have said before, I do not see why we are deploring the manifest injustice of the only stage of the process at which minorities aren't actually patently getting screwed coming and going.

Anonymous said...

This is a quick suggestion/comment which will be met with derision by many, but here goes.

We have identified two crucial issues. We need to improve early recruitment, ideally at the secondary school level. We also all think the job market sucks, and would like to make it better. Let's do something that addresses both of those problems.

Cut down the number of PhDs being produced and ramp up the number of terminal MA programs. PhD programs (at least mine and one other that I know of) are increasing acceptances and enrollments! This is unconscionable. There should be fewer PhD students and more MA students, but at different institutions (we need more programs like the one at U. of Georgia, imho). Strongly encourage students to get an MA first (this used to be the model). If they want to go on after that, fine. They will be better prepared for it. If they don't, fine as well. Start to acknowledge the importance of secondary school teachers. Include them in the APA, come up with better outreach, etc. We could have more people out there with a graduate degree in classics, but at the same time have fewer people competing for jobs on the university level. I have a few friends who actually finished up at Michigan, and are now teaching in various private schools. They love it, are great recruiters, and should be thought of as our colleagues. But there is a huge cultural divide between "mere" high school teachers and we "academics". Maybe those same high-school teachers who have gone through the terminal MA track in classics could be the ones that make a difference in diversifying the pool of potential classicists. If so, we need to treat them as our equals and encourage students to look at that as a viable career.

Anonymous said...

@ April 2, 2008 5:45 PM

Amen.

Anonymous said...

But given the scorn heaped on school teaching on this site by several people, isn't it a bit naive to think that improved secondary teaching will magically appear? Everyone wants there to be more and better Latin teachers, but that's for other people. Or so one would conclude.

Some posters have led me to believe they'd rather say "would you like some fries with that?" than teach high school. Such attitudes are really depressing.

I'm not young. I am not on the market. I might thus have a sliver of objectivity. I'd like to see stop the new trend of SLACs hiring Europeans with no experience in this country. I'd also like to see more of you consider teaching in high school.

Anonymous said...

If you build it, they will come.

Yes, the problem is introducing classics at an early age, but it's also directly tied to faculty recruitment.

Classics faces the same problems that golf suffers from. Like golf, having visible minorities at the top creates interest at the bottom. All aspiring golfers look up to Tiger, but he means something extra for someone who is black or Asian.

Overall, there has always been high interest in golf among Asians, but success by Asians at the highest levels, especially on the women's side, has created an explosion of interest. Despite these inroads, golf still has a problem not unlike classics - accessability. Unlike golf, classics has the ability to reinvent itself so that it is accessible to a broader audience. Whether it will do so willingly is highly dubious, as it will mean more history and archaeology and less philology.

Yeah, you're right, who are we kidding - it won't happen any time soon. I suspect women will be allowed to play the Masters sooner than a recentering of classics away from philology to reach a broader audience.

Anonymous said...

But given the scorn heaped on school teaching on this site by several people, isn't it a bit naive to think that improved secondary teaching will magically appear? Everyone wants there to be more and better Latin teachers, but that's for other people. Or so one would conclude.

I didn't realize there was a previous thread on this. So the reaction to high-school teaching among the readers here has been overwhelmingly negative? That's a shame.

Anonymous said...

"But given the scorn heaped on school teaching on this site by several people, isn't it a bit naive to think that improved secondary teaching will magically appear? Everyone wants there to be more and better Latin teachers, but that's for other people. Or so one would conclude.

I didn't realize there was a previous thread on this. So the reaction to high-school teaching among the readers here has been overwhelmingly negative? That's a shame."

I don't think so much scorn as the attitude that these jobs are undesirable. In many instances they are. If you can land a job at a very good prep school or some exemplary Boston or NY public school, then you can have a great existence as a secondary school teacher. But most secondary school teachers are more overworked and more underpaid than most T-T faculty. Yes, I would take a job teaching Latin and Greek at Exeter before I'd take a $34K 3-3-3 at a college or university with disgruntled faculty. There are exceptions. And there are very good reasons for choosing secondary school teaching over college teaching. Yes, the tenure pressures are fewer. And I wish that secondary school teachers got the kind of respect and treatment here that they do in other countries. But many of them don't. I think most of the people who have expressed a desire to avoid teaching secondary school are doing it not out of scorn but because they perceive that college teaching is an easier row to hoe.

Anonymous said...

Some posters have led me to believe they'd rather say "would you like some fries with that?" than teach high school.

High school teaching can be an excellent choice if your really want to teach Latin but the Hellenists are sort of left out here. Very few high schools offer Greek and not many with Latin programs are willing to start Greek up.

My grad program had/has a special MAT/MEd for training Latin teachers and typically accepts 2-3 people per year just for that program. The university also requires all students to sit an exam for the MA before they can be accepted for the PhD. This is a good 'getting to know you' period for everyone and gives all parties involved a chance to back out. Maybe more programs should consider this.

Anonymous said...

I guess I must be the one "philologist" on this blog. Probably explains why I find myself in so many arguments - at one time I'm a raving liberal, at other times I'm an arch conservative - oh well. Anyway, I've expressed my sympathy with MC people before but let me just set the record straight on what philology is and can be for those who were sleeping in class. It is not textual criticism; it is not antiquarianism; it is not dead (as some of you clearly think). It is one of those umbrella words that covers a range of practices from the conservative (e.g., commentaries) to the most modish (reception studies, film theory, etc.). People in other disciplines are jealous of both: the rigorous resources, and the fantastic literary tradition. Yes, people, we have range, just like any other field, and that range makes it possible, though not automatic, to have very large classes (yes, of course it depends on the professor - just like any other class). Talking about philology as many of you MC people tend to do on this blog makes you look well, frankly, primitive. It would be as if I thought all you did was work on the Parthenon and brush off pots in Rome. More and more Romanists know and care more about culture than about literature. Times are changing. Sure, we'd all like to see greater balance (some depts have that) and less stuffy professors (again, some depts have that), but please, let's not pretend an entire sub-discipline is retrograde, especially if our sharpest literary tool is a shovel. The old generation is on its way out, I promise, just be a little patient and "philologists" may be more inclined to see your point of view rather than getting into a dirty fight (which you'll win, with your excavation-honed muscles and mattocks, oh, except if you're distracted getting drunk and having sex all the time...).

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10.34,

Holy non-sequitur, Batman!

Anonymous said...

"Philology always leads to crime."

-- Eugène Ionesco

Anonymous said...

Very much sequitur.

"Unlike golf, classics has the ability to reinvent itself so that it is accessible to a broader audience. Whether it will do so willingly is highly dubious, as it will mean more history and archaeology and less philology."

"I suspect women will be allowed to play the Masters sooner than a recentering of classics away from philology to reach a broader audience."

And if you've been paying attention to this blog (or maybe it's just one relentless, slightly schizophrenic poster?), you'll see a trend of attacking philology for being the bane of the discipline.

Finding solutions to the difficult problems discussed above is going to require more than a few poorly aimed MC molotov cocktails.

Anonymous said...

let me just set the record straight on what philology is and can be for those who were sleeping in class. It is not textual criticism; it is not antiquarianism; it is not dead (as some of you clearly think). It is one of those umbrella words that covers a range of practices from the conservative (e.g., commentaries) to the most modish (reception studies, film theory, etc.).

Right. In fact, the only people I hear using the term "philologist" these days are archaeologists and art historians, who use it to describe "everyone who works on antiquity but isn't MC or a historian." I think that people so described by some in MC would be correctly called "literary critics," "cultural historians," "historians of literature and/or philosophy," "linguists," and in some few cases "philologists." Hell, hardly any actual philologists get trained in the U.S. anymore, and when somebody uses the term of me I assume that they don't have any idea what goes on in non-MC Classics these days.

Anonymous said...

High school teaching can be an excellent choice if your really want to teach Latin but the Hellenists are sort of left out here. Very few high schools offer Greek and not many with Latin programs are willing to start Greek up.

Well, right, but thankfully given the nature of Classics training a Hellenist should be pretty well equipped to teach high school Latin, in the same sense that they should be well equipped to teach undergraduate Latin. So, a Hellenist might not want to teach Latin, but their ability to do so should prevent them from being at a disadvantage on the market, and so they're not "left out" in that sense.

Anonymous said...

As a philologist I believe in the innermost depths of my heart that true philology consists of editing unknown texts (e.g. papyrology, epigraphy) and emending known ones (i.e. textual criticism) - commentaries, historical studies, comparative literary studies, reception studies, film studies, history of scholarship etc. all belong to soft-core, possibly false philology, it seems to me - although I grant that people who have the ability to be true philologists often have to do these other stuff in order to get money and survive in this modern world. Am I a dinosaur?

Anonymous said...

In fact, the only people I hear using the term "philologist" these days are archaeologists and art historians, who use it to describe "everyone who works on antiquity but isn't MC or a historian." I think that people so described by some in MC would be correctly called "literary critics," "cultural historians," "historians of literature and/or philosophy," "linguists," and in some few cases "philologists." Hell, hardly any actual philologists get trained in the U.S. anymore, and when somebody uses the term of me I assume that they don't have any idea what goes on in non-MC Classics these days.

ALCA?
ACHA?
AHL/PA?
ALA?

Call me an archaeologist, but I thought you were all members of the American Philological Association. And I thought that you all loved languages, whether as literary critics or linguists or cultural historians.

I won't assume that you don't know anything about what I do if you don't call me a survey archaeologist or a ceramicist or some other specialized title. I'm pretty comfortable with myself, so I won't be offended if you just want to call me an archaeologist.

Anonymous said...

As a philologist I believe in the innermost depths of my heart that true philology consists of editing unknown texts (e.g. papyrology, epigraphy)

I don't know of any papyrologists or epigraphers who call themselves philologists. They call themselves papyrologists and epigraphers.

and emending known ones (i.e. textual criticism)

These people would be philologists.

- commentaries,

Some of these people would also be philologists. Others may be historians or literary critics.

historical studies,

Historians.

comparative literary studies, reception studies, film studies

Literary and cultural critics.

history of scholarship

Intellectual or cultural historians.

etc. all belong to soft-core, possibly false philology,

Well, OK, but only if you're willing to describe everybody in an English department who doesn't edit texts as a "false English philologist," which seems pretty silly. Really, most people in Classics departments do with Greek and Latin texts what English professors do with English literature, what French professors do with French literature, etc. That is, they are literary critics, and they do not claim to be "philologists" any more. Rather, that category of people working in MC that has no idea what Classicists who work on literature do calls all of them "philologists" for no better reason I can see than that was what people who worked on ancient literature in the 1950s and before in fact *were*.

it seems to me - although I grant that people who have the ability to be true philologists often have to do these other stuff in order to get money and survive in this modern world.

Or maybe these people want to be literary critics?

Am I a dinosaur?

I assume you're speaking metaphorically? Still, it would be kind of neat if you weren't. Too often we go through life not even stopping to ask whether we might in fact be a giant prehistoric lizard.

Call me an archaeologist, but I thought you were all members of the American Philological Association.

Which was founded in 1869, when everybody who worked on Classical texts was a philologist. Just because it's in the name doesn't mean that's what you call the organization's members, and if you suppose that it is you might have a very uncomfortable time at an NAACP meeting.

And I thought that you all loved languages, whether as literary critics or linguists or cultural historians.

Within the discipline it has a much more specific meaning than its etymology suggests, as does archaeologist. If we're to go by etymology, we all just magically became "archaeologists" because of our "study" of "ancient stuff."

I won't assume that you don't know anything about what I do if you don't call me a survey archaeologist or a ceramicist or some other specialized title. I'm pretty comfortable with myself, so I won't be offended if you just want to call me an archaeologist.

Is "archaeologist" a broadly accepted self-description among people who work on material culture? "Philologist" is not a broadly accepted self-description among people who work on ancient literary texts. I am not offended to be called a "philologist," only confused.

Anonymous said...

Within the discipline it has a much more specific meaning than its etymology suggests, as does archaeologist.

What is the discipline?

Are you all part of the same discipline?

Does it have a name?

Anonymous said...

What is the discipline?

Are you all part of the same discipline?

Does it have a name?


Now you're just pulling my leg. I hope.

Anonymous said...

Now you're just pulling my leg. I hope.

If people are offended if I say philology/philologist, what am I supposed to say instead?

Anonymous said...

Now you're just pulling my leg. I hope.

If people are offended if I say philology/philologist, what am I supposed to say instead?


I have no idea if people are offended if you say this. I am saying that it is comparable to calling all archaeologists "ceramicists," which would be confusing and weird, I hope you'll grant.

As for the term that people who work on Greek and Latin literature—the philologists, the literary critics, the literary historians, the Classical linguists—conventionally call themselves by, are you really, in all seriousness, asking me what it is? You couldn't even begin to guess?

Anonymous said...

I'll take "Classicists" for $500, Alex.

Anonymous said...

I'll take "Classicists" for $500, Alex.

Nooooo!!! What are you doing?!? You revealed our secret name!!!

Anonymous said...

Since I opened this can of worms, let me clarify: my problem is not so much whether you call me a philologist or not (although traditional philology only represents part of what I do), but rather that people are using the old-fashionedness of the term to cast aspersions on anything that isn't MC. 'It's all outmoded because the APA was founded in the 19th century.' Shit, the NAS was also founded in the 19th century - let's be done with all that outmoded 'science' stuff too. Come on, people. This is about MC people perceiving, perhaps rightly, that there's an imbalance in priorities and emphases. But there's no reason to marshall embarrassingly bad arguments to make that relatively simple point.

Btw, loved this:

Just because it's in the name doesn't mean that's what you call the organization's members, and if you suppose that it is you might have a very uncomfortable time at an NAACP meeting.

Anonymous said...

So if I want to refer to my colleagues who are not archaeologists, I should differentiate them from archaeologists by calling them... Classicists?

And here I thought I was a Classicist too....

Ok, I'll stop now. I didn't really intend to provoke a pointless debate about nothing. I posted my original message because I thought the initial message from the person who was worked up about being called a philologist instead of a historian of literature and/or philosophy or some such was ridiculous and bizarrely defensive, and I was very sorry to see the discussion turn from topics that are worth debating-- about foreign candidates on the US job market, about recruiting minorities into the field of Classics-- to being defensive about the traditional, conventional, many-people-use-it name for the area of Classical studies that focuses on languages and texts.

Anonymous said...

On a related but less personal note, do folks have any thoughts about "Classics" versus "Classical Studies" versus "Ancient Mediterranean Studies" or some such thing? I've been noting the wide variety of department names during this job search; frankly, it's been a bit irritating because, for instance, you'll miss jobs on Chronicle searches if you just look for "classics." (Useful tip there; also search for "ancient.")

I also think here that some people may perceive a hierarchy between "Classics" majors/Ph.Ds and "Classical Studies/Civilization" specialists. How can you be a true classicist without having taken Advanced Greek Prose Composition, one faction says, while their opponents mutter "at least we know a krater from an amphora."

That's one of the things that leads to tension between different subgroups in our field, in my experience - the sense that the other group somehow has it "easier" with regard to exams, total material, etc... The Loeb is always greener on the other side of the department?

Anonymous said...

Ah, don't be so coy now, you know perfectly well there was good reason to be defensive. Let me spell out the connectedness of all the above discussions: 1) identify problems with Classics 2) make the solution out to entail fewer "philologists" and more MC people. Subtle as dynamite. You don't get to say "oh, let's just get back to 1 now". You and your MC colleagues opened the door by linking 1 and 2. When I said that the necessity of that connection was rubbish, the discussion suddenly became a matter of offence. It wasn't principally a matter of offence - it was a mater of linking ideas for improvements in the field of Classics (hooray!) to cack-handed attempts to elevate MC over "philology" (boo!). You don't get to smuggle 2 past me 'cos I was busy standing with you on 1.

Anonymous said...

Ah, don't be so coy now, you know perfectly well there was good reason to be defensive.

Wow.

No, I didn't know that there was good reason to be so defensive or feel so embattled. I'm still not sure I do.

Anonymous said...

I love it when white people from relatively priveleged backgrounds argue about inane issues.

Earl Grey goes with lemon, you idiots, not milk!?

Anonymous said...

So if I want to refer to my colleagues who are not archaeologists, I should differentiate them from archaeologists by calling them... Classicists?

You may of course call them whatever you like. I would call the ones who work on language and literature "Classicists," the ones who work on the archaeology of the Greco-Roman world "Classical archaeologists," the ones who work on ancient history "ancient historians," and the ones who work on history of ancient art "art historians." It goes without saying that a person may work in more than one of these categories. The existence of these disciplinary distinctions is in fact suggested by the widespread but by no means universal existence of separate Ph.Ds in each of these disciplines. At some institutions, most or all of the ancient historians are in the History department and the art historians in the Art History department; at Princeton, if I'm not mistaken, all of Classical archaeologists and the historians of ancient art are in the Art History and Archaeology department and not in Classics at all.

"Classicist" does not suggest or imply that ancient historians, historians of philosophy, historians of art, or classical archaeologists are any less a part of a "Classics" department than the "Classicists." In origin, as you know, "classicist" suggests someone who in art or literature emulates classical forms or aspires to a classical aesthetic, then came to mean an advocate for the study of "The Classics" (i.e, ancient Greek and Latin literature), and by a very easy move has been adopted as a term to describe those who study "The Classics."

And here I thought I was a Classicist too....

I'm certainly not going to tell you that you are not. I infer however that you aren't what people who work on Greek and Latin literature would refer to as a Classicist when distinguishing between disciplines that work in the ancient world. However, you might be referred to as a "Classicist" in another environment, say in which a bunch of people who work on the ancient world are around a bunch of people who work in other periods or other geographical areas. What other easy way is there of expressing that distinction, after all? "Ancient people"?

Anonymous said...

"And here I thought I was a Classicist too..."

You are. To say that people who focus on literature and language are classicists and classical archaeologists are not is like saying that a resident of NYC is an American but a resident of LA is a Californian. People in the modern day can try to construe a broader significance to their studies, but the fact remains that a classicist is someone who studies the classical world - historian, archaeologist, etc.

Call an archaeologist a ceramist is not the same thing. For one, it never ocurred to call the AIA the CIA, lol. "Philology" is not nearly as narrow as ceramics studies. Outdated, maybe, but the analogy does not hold.

Anonymous said...

I love it when white people from relatively priveleged backgrounds argue about inane issues.

I would think that anyone interested enough in Classics to read a blog about it would have to be pretty strongly committed to arguing about inane issues.

Earl Grey goes with lemon, you idiots, not milk!?

Thanks for the tip. I'll take your word for it.

Anonymous said...

Interlocutor A.

No, I didn't know that there was good reason to be so defensive or feel so embattled. I'm still not sure I do.

How much clearer can I be? Okay, here goes: "Classics is in the doldrums. Let's fire all the MC people with their sticks and stones and instead employ cool gender studies and reception theory people who can be in touch with the youth of today. This will clearly result in a more diverse student and faculty body, infinite jobs, an economic upturn, and possibly peace in the Middle East." DO YOU GET IT NOW?

(Barely) Interlocutor B.

I love it when white people from relatively priveleged backgrounds argue about inane issues.

1) If you don't see why the make-up of the field has consequences for the field, you shouldn't be in it.

2) Are you even on the right blog? Hell, I might agree with you if you were talking about global trade or something, but you're not, you're talking about Classics and you're an idiot. Come back when you have something meaningful to contribute.

Anonymous said...

Call an archaeologist a ceramist is not the same thing. For one, it never ocurred to call the AIA the CIA, lol. "Philology" is not nearly as narrow as ceramics studies. Outdated, maybe, but the analogy does not hold.

In as much as both are instances of "genus/species," it holds perfectly well. Philologists are a subset of Classicists (Classicists in the sense "scholars of Greek and Latin literature"). Ceramicists are a subset of Classical archaeologists. There's your analogy. It's holding. Wait... wait...

Wait...

Still holding...

Wait...

Actually, could you just sit here for a while and watch it for me? Call me if it stops holding.

Sigmund_Freud said...

The only call you need is from your shrink.

Carl_Linnaeus said...

No, ceramicist would be a subspecies by your reckoning. So Classicist philologist or Classicist archaeologist. There is no such thing as Classicist ceramicist. Classicist archaeologist ceramicist, yes.

Anonymous said...

Sigmund, you almost had coffee coming out my nose!

Anonymous said...

The only call you need is from your shrink.

Wha? Why... ((splutter)), ((gasp))... what can I say when confronted by Sigmund_Freud, swordsman of wit?!? Defeated, I retire.

Anonymous said...

No, ceramicist would be a subspecies by your reckoning. So Classicist philologist or Classicist archaeologist. There is no such thing as Classicist ceramicist. Classicist archaeologist ceramicist, yes.

Please reread what I wrote: "Classicists in the sense 'scholars of Greek and Latin literature'" not "all people who work on matters involving the ancient world."

This is not hard.

The_Rock said...

Naw, Sigmund just ribbed you a bit. Carl, he's the one who cracked open the can of pansy-white-whup-ass.

Anonymous said...

Sigmund, you almost had coffee coming out my nose!

Really, that works here?

Easy crowd.

Maybe a slightly tipsy crowd?

Harriet_Tubman said...

"This is not hard."

It is hard when you arbitrarily choose to redefine a word that has been understood to mean a broader concept for centuries to suit your fantasies and proclivities.

Okay, starting tomorrow, all white people will now be called black. Ha, problem solved about getting mroe black people into classics.

Anonymous said...

Look, let's face it, one of the reasons this debate is so frequently repeated and volatile is precisely that lit. people and MC people are in such different structural positions within the academy. Classical Lit. people have their home in Classics (few CompLit people, with some notable exceptions, work on Classical material these days - the time of Adam Parry et al. is long gone). Archaeologists, for instance, have more than one home, whether that's Classics, Art History, Arch. & Anth. So, the situation within the modern university simply isn't the same for both groups. Maybe a productive discussion about what to do (that doesn't simply involve deriding "philologists") should take the institutional facts into consideration.

Anonymous said...

Naw, Sigmund just ribbed you a bit. Carl, he's the one who cracked open the can of pansy-white-whup-ass.

Thank you, Nelson Munz.

Look, if a deliberate refusal to understand plain English is going to be the new standard of awesomeness here, there's not much more I can say. If you look at what I said, you'll see that it was right.

For Linnaeus, perhaps it will be clearer if I write:

scholar of classical antiquity-classicist-philologist

scholar of classical antiquity-archaeologist-ceramicist

not_Linnaeus said...

For Linnaeus, perhaps it will be clearer if I write:

scholar of classical antiquity-classicist-philologist

scholar of classical antiquity-archaeologist-ceramicist


Not he, but it still doesn't make sense. I agree with others that "scholar of classical antiquity" is the same thing as "classicist." You're attempting to move "classicist" into a lower order classification category and at the same time booting archaeologists out of the genus. It doesn't fly, I'm afraid.

Nelson_Munz said...

HAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Anonymous said...

Wow, having given the "white people argue about tea" guy a hard time, I'm now not so sure...

Can we get back to the argument at hand about 1) advancing Classics 2) resolving the MC / lit. problem? Much as I love textual criticism and literary interpretation I'd rather do it on Homer than on your posts.

The anonymous poster who has been silent latelt said...

To Anonymous of April 1, 5:19 p.m.:

I’ve been too busy to respond (let alone keep up with this rapidly growing thread), but didn’t want to ignore you for too long. So, even though the thread has moved on, here are my quick replies.

Surely you are not saying that you have no reason whatever for believing that American Ph.Ds should receive a larger share of tenure track positions. Don't you mean that as citizens Americans have a right to preferential consideration of some kind and degree for positions in American universities? This is not an ethically egalitarian position, but it is an ethical position all the same, not to mention a common one.

Okay, I guess I can see it that way, but I myself wasn’t viewing things as a matter of morality vs. immorality.

True. But if I am not mistaken you began by defending debate on this matter on the grounds that it is a serious and complicated issue that merits consideration, not as a question of wishing in vain that things were otherwise. In that case your defense of the cat who ignores applications from Frenchy should have been that he can say whatever he wants without objection simply because he is an angry guy who doesn't like foreigners and feels frustrated and needs to vent, not because the matter he wants to talk about is a serious and complicated issue that merits consideration.

When I said the issue is complicated, I meant emotionally complicated. As I wrote, it is very easy to say you are all for foreign Ph.D. getting jobs in this country, but when you can point to a job that you believe would have been yours, then (for a lot of people, I believe) it becomes a bit more complicated. Personally, I find it much easier to say to myself, “Well, I lost to John Doe of Princeton, that’s okay” than “Well, I lost to Giovanni Doe of La Sapienza (or Johannes Doe of Cologne, etc.), that’s okay.”

However I do think that your having implied that you thought that this was a serious matter inclined people to think that you might want to propose steps to prevent foreigners from getting hired, and that this may have appeared to them to be in the neighborhood of xenophobia. But now that we know you don't want to do any of these things and were just talking in a fantasy counterfactual about how it would be better if fewer foreigners were hired in the U.S., I don't doubt but that fewer people will be inclined to regard you as a xenophobe.

Yes, I LOVE counterfactuals! I have more than once said – though not to anyone on this blog, so this can't be used to identify me – that it is the ability to think in terms of counterfactuals that sets Man apart from Beast.

Earl Grey said...

What I think is not being grasped here is that "Classicist" is used legitimately, in different senses, to mean both 1. (broadly, as a matter of contrast with with other periods and regions) "person who studies Classical antiquity in some respect" and 2. (narrowly, as a matter of contrast with ancient historians and scholars of ancient MC) "person who studies Greek and Latin Literature."

If you buy that, it results in:

Classicist (1), classicist (2), philologist

and

Classicist (1), archaeologist, ceramicist

That way, people who work on archaeology are both archaeologists and Classicists, and people who are Classicists but not historians or archaeologists are not necessarily, but may be, philologists.

Voila.

(The Original) Old Oligarch said...

The old generation is on its way out, I promise, just be a little patient and "philologists" may be more inclined to see your point of view rather than getting into a dirty fight (which you'll win, with your excavation-honed muscles and mattocks, oh, except if you're distracted getting drunk and having sex all the time...).

Sweet! My joke about archaeologists from back in Sept./Oct. rears its head again! Thank you, anonymous stranger!

Anonymous said...

My pleasure, (Original) Old Oligarch. In between the flying shovels and LSJs (which is more dangerous?) it's nice to remember that there's some good humour on this blog - so THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I find it much easier to say to myself, “Well, I lost to John Doe of Princeton, that’s okay” than “Well, I lost to Giovanni Doe of La Sapienza (or Johannes Doe of Cologne, etc.), that’s okay.”

Really? Those would both annoy me a lot, but I can't say one would get me more than the other. But that's cool.

I tell you what, though, that Doe family sure sounds like it's doing well.

Anonymous said...

If a foreign Ph.D. got "my" job, I wouldn't be any more annoyed than if anyone else got it, but if it happened with some frequency I might wonder what these foreign universities were teaching that's so appealing (an honest question, not an assumption that their appointment was wrong).

Anonymous said...

If a foreign Ph.D. got "my" job, I wouldn't be any more annoyed than if anyone else got it, but if it happened with some frequency I might wonder what these foreign universities were teaching that's so appealing (an honest question, not an assumption that their appointment was wrong).

Well, one thing is that not only do candidates with foreign Ph.Ds compete with the general pool, but they are also strongly overrepresented within certain disciplines because of the nature of American training. If a department is looking for someone who can edit fragments, or for an epigrapher, etc., then that's going to be a much more European interview list than for another position, because not many people are trained in those fields in the States these days. One factor at least is that, right now, American Classics seems to be experiencing a small wave of renewed enthusiasm for traditional philological activity, and fragments are kind of cool again. Not too long ago, it made sense to dissuade graduate students from doing that sort of thing because no one would employ them; now, somewhat less so. But it could be all over in a couple of years, and philology could once again become an unmitigatedly bad career choice.

Anonymous said...

Following on from the last post, I'm sure there are a few people on this blog who would have appreciated a realistic assessment from their advisors / dept of just how employable their specialist subject might be. (Anyone for connectives in Plotinus? Earthenware cups in Briton?). If we were all trained from the outset in skills and expertise that ranged from the scholarly and original to the populist and popular I think the field would in general be more healthy, and Ph.D. students would have something of a shelf-life and not be quite so dependent on fashions in scholarship. You'd be surprised at how irresponsible and even negligent the most experienced depts and advisors can be. If you look at the philosophy blog it looks as if this problem might be the cause of much of their gripes (and unemployment). There's always going to be the few specialists who've just struck it lucky with their choice (Hellenistic history, dare I say?), but there seems to be a bit too much contingency in play at the moment.

Anonymous said...

If a department is looking for someone who can edit fragments
Huh? Did I just miss a bunch of fragment-editing positions?

Anonymous said...

If a department is looking for someone who can edit fragments
Huh? Did I just miss a bunch of fragment-editing positions?


Pardon if I was unclear. "Someone to occupy their position, whatever it is, who has the training and capacity to engage in traditional philological activity in addition to whatever else they may do." If you are looking for someone with that component to their profile, then you may be more likely to hire a European Ph.D, given that few American departments train their students for this any longer. I mean, it's still not unusual in UK, German, and Italian universities for theses to be commentaries on such-and-such 500 lines of Apollonius or Ovid or whoever, and in general the people writing these are equipped to do so. Not only are American Classics grad students in general not trained to do something like that, but it has been conventional wisdom for some time for diss advisers in the US that it was irresponsible to let an advisee do such a dissertation because it was bad for their job prospects. My sense is that in the past couple of years it would be less bad, and that this is kind of related to the grim moment of stagnation that critical theory is in.

I don't know, maybe look at the foreign Ph.Ds who were hired last year and figure out what they do? That will give a good sense of what those SCs were looking for, after all.

truth about charlie said...

One rather obvious reason that Europeans get jobs here, and in particular high-profile ones, is simply their impressive publication record compared to their American competitors. It's not uncommon for an applicant for an Asst Prof position to have two books and over ten articles (esp. from Germany, b/c of the terrible market over there). This in itself is not enough - there are many who still have a hard time getting jobs here - but if you are also a pleasant, engaged person and know how to say the right things to an American dept (which people are getting savvier about) then it's really hard for a dept to pass that up. This is why it is primarly an issue restricted to high-profile research institutions - they are also thinking about when the person comes up for tenure, and if someone basically has the publication record already at the point of hire, it's a lot less dicey than taking the chance on a promising, yet risky rookie.

In any case, take a look at, let's say, Harvard's Classics dept, and see how many American-trained professors work there.

Let me say that I am fully in support of hiring the best person - welcome to globalization. At least one benefit of recent politics, etc. is that America is becoming a less desirable place to emigrate to...

Anonymous said...

OK, so, of the handful of non-American Ph.Ds who got t-t jobs in the US and Canada last year, one has done (among other things) an edition of the works of Callimachus (better believe there's some frr. in there!), another appears to do history of scholarship/classical tradition (in which not a lot of people get trained in the States), one is an epigrapher, and one has written a book on Rufinus, which seems not to be an edition, but it is certainly not about a matter that you would take up were you not philologically pretty comfortable.

But this

One rather obvious reason that Europeans get jobs here, and in particular high-profile ones, is simply their impressive publication record compared to their American competitors.

is also very true.

Anonymous said...

Is it really that unreasonable that for the purposes of getting a job at Harvard or other similar university it might be an advantage to have attended a Ph.D. program at one of those institutions or an equivalent in Europe? I mean, sometimes the professors at [insert top 10 U] are going to lean one way and at other times they're going to lean another way, but surely going through a top American or European program should mean something, right? It'd be nice, however, if the info about current leanings was up-to-date and reliable. I doubt the consequence would be everyone cynically studying Sallust with minor specializations in epigraphy and gender studies.

Anonymous said...

If a department is looking for someone who can edit fragments, or for an epigrapher, etc., then that's going to be a much more European interview list than for another position, because not many people are trained in those fields in the States these days.

There was a department this year looking for such a "European" type specialty. (In the interests of full disclosure, I was not a candidate, but a PhD alum of that dept.) They only interviewed one European, who also made the shortlist. Their final choice was an American, newbie PhD, who in fact had never actually worked in this specialty (all the other finalists had, and had published in it widely), but who talked a good game about wanting to work in that specialty. I frankly find their decision inexplicable, but that's another issue. I think it's just another sign that these "European" specialties - not just epigraphy or fragments, but also things like numismatics and papyrology - are really dying off over here. Soon the US will produce mainly philologists and social historians, if it doesn't already.

Anonymous said...

It seems that we are all fiddling while Rome Burns.

This really ought to be a bigger worry for all of us than anything having to do with foreign PhDs!

Anonymous said...

The problem (or a problem) when it comes to epigraphy is as follows:

Epigraphy doesn't get the level of respect it deserves, partly because not enough people are as familiar with it as they should be. (For example, how many philologists/literary studies people are aware of all of the work being done these days on the hundreds and hundreds of inscribed poems that survive? The big "Pride of Halikarnassos" inscription that was published in the past decade, for example, is not something to miss.) So, several departments at research universities don't feel it a necessity to have an epigrapher. And this means that the grads in those departments don't get sufficient exposure to epigraphy, so that when they eventually get jobs and serve on search committees, they, too, don't see the need to hire a true epigrapher.

Same case with papyrology, of course, though it would be difficult to hire a papyrologist or expect him/her to teach a graduate seminar if a school doesn't own any papyri, and not all of the big research universities have large enough collections. And, of course, the same is true of numismatics.

I guess that departments that lack an epigrapher, papyrologist or numismatist figure that they can send interested grads to one of those summer seminars (like the one at the American Numismatics Society, for example), but those are not equally valuable, and not necessarily proper substitutes for a semester-long course.

Anonymous said...

There was a department this year looking for such a "European" type specialty. (In the interests of full disclosure, I was not a candidate, but a PhD alum of that dept.) They only interviewed one European, who also made the shortlist. Their final choice was an American, newbie PhD, who in fact had never actually worked in this specialty (all the other finalists had, and had published in it widely), but who talked a good game about wanting to work in that specialty.

It was the Brown Egyptology position, right? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain the psychology of a dept that just hires specializations already possessed by the dept? Call me cocky, but I reckon I can teach my own specialty perfectly well enough without anyone's help thank you very much and would in fact like nothing more than colleagues who have something to teach me about epigraphy, archaeology, philosophy, etc. Sure, when it comes to my material I'm just going to think their opinions are plain stupid, but I'd like to think my opinions on their subjects look equally simple-minded to them. We're all big enough to acknowledge our own deficiencies and the expansiveness of the field, aren't we? Good thing I'm on a hiring cttee next year...

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, Anonymous 11:21. We would not have to worry about whose degree came from where so much if we had more students to teach! Rome is burning indeed....

Anonymous said...

cynically studying Sallust

Only a cynic like Sallust says it's cynical to study Sallust.

Anonymous said...

12:09 AM: It's my theory that like attracts like. While we see this on a more visible and problematic level with the aforementioned lack of minorities, it's true even at a small level. Greek drama people think, "hey, it would be wonderful to have lunch regularly with someone who really understood the intricacies of Euripides' Ion;" Plato specialists think "what I really want is someone to take over that Aristotle course I hate teaching."

As earlier people have commented, it's very easy for people outside a subfield to underestimate the importance/utility of other subfields and think, "well, really, anyone can teach Intro. Roman History, right?"

I think this directly contributes to the recruitment of classics majors problem.

Anonymous said...

Greek drama people think, "hey, it would be wonderful to have lunch regularly with someone who really understood the intricacies of Euripides' Ion;" Plato specialists think "what I really want is someone to take over that Aristotle course I hate teaching."

1) Isn't that what the (countless) conferences, colloquia, visiting lectures, and collaborative book projects are for? For me lunch is about relaxing and having a nice sandwich.

2) Here's an idea: don't teach Aristotle if it's really that painful for you. The fact is we have an infinity of subjects we can teach (some of which we are experts in, other subjects we're just intensely curious about). So if you're a Platonist and you need to teach something else, go ahead - teach Aristophanes, teach neo-Platonism, teach Ficino, teach Cicero. The students aren't going to care as long as you keep them interested and educated. And the budding philosophers out there will go to grad. school and take a class with a rabid Aristotelian who can't stand his mystical-totalitarian predecessor... I'm bemused why so many academics in this country feel bound to teach certain courses. It's almost as if the schedule drives scholars and scholarship rather than the other way round. Now that's mystifying.

Anonymous said...

Parenthically, I'm just going to say that one clear sign that classics might not be what it used to be is that Jerzy Linderski's new "Roman Questions" volume was listed as "still available" in BMCR's March listing. And yet, no doubt, a bunch of greatly inferior works on topics like "Children's Emotions in Euripides's 'Medea'" (now THERE's a topic for a dissertation!) will get pounced on...

P.S. I'm a Latinist, but well-rounded enough to make subtle joke about Greek drama, and yet I, myself, am "still available."

Anonymous said...

I think that might be a little unfair. There are plenty of taxing works that are reviewed on BMCR (though increasingly irritatingly not reviewed in English - I can always read Gnomon if I want, you know). As for Linderski's volume, well, you got to have some balls to ask for it, right? I mean, have you seen what he's said about the work of some lesser scholars? And the fluff works go hand-in-hand with the attempts to popularize Classics. If Linderski was all we had we'd have about one tenure-track position in the US and that would definitely go to a foreign Ph.D....

Anonymous said...

Point taken. You have to admit the Medea thing was funny, though.

We'll see if Linderski's book is still out there a month from now.

Anonymous said...

Parenthically, I'm just going to say that one clear sign that classics might not be what it used to be is that Jerzy Linderski's new "Roman Questions" volume was listed as "still available" in BMCR's March listing.

Shocking, I know, that it should be hard to find somebody to review seven hundred pages of previously published work.

So, when are *you* going to offer to review it? I bet it's still available...

Anonymous said...

Servius,

As moderator you should be careful that this blog does not creep much closer to ad hominem attacks on scholars, eminent ones at that. If you open those floodgates, then this site loses whatever shred of usefulness remains.

Anonymous said...

7:11 PM poster - maybe if you had published anything worthwhile, you'd be entitled to your haughty attitude, but I scarcely believe that is the case. You should read RQ I and II and learn about scholarship.

Gil_Chesterton said...

Are we still trying to figure out whether Earl Grey goes with milk or lemon? I put my vote in for llama milk.

Anonymous said...

So, when are *you* going to offer to review it? I bet it's still available...

I already own a copy. And I'm working on another review. Those are just two of the reasons...

Anonymous said...

author of 7:11 PM post - I doubt your papers will ever fill a copybook, much less two volumes of lasting value.

Embarrassed in Cali said...

Dear Colleagues,

How in the world did this thread devolve into meaningless tripe so quickly? We started out so promisingly - mulling over issues of race, social status, and economic opportunity in our discipline. Now, here we all stand next to the sandbox, watching two "scholars" trade anonymous barbs. What a show!

Does the fact that ETS has just summarily executed the Latin Lit AP mean nothing to you all? This is HUGE, terrible news for the profession, whether you are a philologist, or a material culture person, or lie somewhere in between. And yet the last few posters seem to be more concerned about pissing on some other child's sand castle.

Can we all agree that nobody commenting on this blog (nor, for that matter, 99% of those reading it) could even carry Jerzy Linderski's lunchbox, let alone have a right to make disrespectful comments about his scholarship behind the cloak of anonymity. If you think you do have that right, review said scholarship in public. Otherwise, STFU.

Please, can we all get back to more serious topics, or at least pretend like we have some professional standards?

Anonymous said...

Since the blog has until now adopted a principle of no-naming, I'm happy to agree. However, a couple of things:

1) the previous posts about RQ actually implied what a great work of scholarship it is, and hence intimidating.

2) if you think any of those posts sounded like an ad hominem attack perhaps you should read more widely in the work of white Roman historians of the previous generation.

Anonymous said...

As moderator you should be careful that this blog does not creep much closer to ad hominem attacks on scholars, eminent ones at that.

Can we all agree that nobody commenting on this blog (nor, for that matter, 99% of those reading it) could even carry Jerzy Linderski's lunchbox, let alone have a right to make disrespectful comments about his scholarship behind the cloak of anonymity.

Before this seething kettle of righteous indignation reaches a boil, let me observe that my point had nothing whatever to do with the value of his work, with which I am familiar and admire. My point is that extremely long volumes consisting of variegated, already-published material *of whatever quality* are always going to be difficult to place with reviewers and that it is not in fact yet another sign of the apocalypse that it has not been snapped up by one.

Does the fact that ETS has just summarily executed the Latin Lit AP mean nothing to you all? This is HUGE, terrible news for the profession, whether you are a philologist, or a material culture person, or lie somewhere in between.

This however is somewhat closer to being a sign of the apocalypse.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Good Lord. As the one who first mentioned Linderski's work, I'm amazed that a simple comment has turned into all this.

I was just making an off-the-cuff observation. I had been going through the BMCR list of books available to review, and was rather surprised to see it listed as still available. I didn't run through a mental checklist of all the reasons why that might be, I just made a semi-serious, semi-relevant comment while bored on a Sunday afternoon. Obviously, the work's sheer magnitude combined with the fact that it would require a (presumably well-deserved) belief in one's qualifications to volunteer it.

From now on, I will only post something that I've first run past my dissertation advisor.

By the way, as one who owns "Roman Questions II," I thought I'd note how impressed I am that Linderski included various obituaries he has written of great scholars of the past. One usually doesn't see this in collections of articles, and it's a classy thing to do that also makes for some very interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Something went wrong as I was cutting and pasting this sentence in order to rework it: "Obviously, the work's sheer magnitude combined with the fact that it would require a (presumably well-deserved) belief in one's qualifications to volunteer it." I'll let the textual critics out there figure out what I was trying to say...

Anonymous said...

How in the world did this thread devolve into meaningless tripe so quickly? We started out so promisingly - mulling over issues of race, social status, and economic opportunity in our discipline. Now, here we all stand next to the sandbox, watching two "scholars" trade anonymous barbs.

The exchange between two or three of the posters was juvenile, sure, but I think you miss how some aspects of this "discussion" aren't totally divorced from what preceded. If you look carefully, some of the posts (not the playground ones) raise the same issues of subject content and popularity that tie in precisely to issues of access and audience. The listings and reviews of BMCR do reflect some important changes in our field.

Can we all agree that nobody commenting on this blog (nor, for that matter, 99% of those reading it) could even carry Jerzy Linderski's lunchbox, let alone have a right to make disrespectful comments about his scholarship behind the cloak of anonymity.

A figment of your imagination. But fine, I'm perfectly happy to accede to your request to praise a great scholar (he's too great to need it, but if that will make *you* happy, then so be it...). Shall we praise Badian and Syme while we're at it? Three cheers for Lily Ross Taylor!

Servius said...

Hi Everybody,

Sorry to have been such a poor "moderator" lately, but I was off the internets for the past week, and completely out of the loop.
Coming back to the country and finding out that the Latin AP exam had been canceled was a brutal welcome home, and I agree with the person who announced it here that it is bad news indeed.

I have received a couple of emails regarding the wiki, and about certain posts here. I am sorry, again, for my lack of response, but I will write you both directly as soon as I can. For the record, I am not the “moderator” of the wiki, so don’t feel like you have run things by me.

However, I would like to remind everybody that the "no names" policy (on the blog) is pretty expansive. I personally don't believe that the post in question was written in a negative spirit. Nonetheless, one could point to a few potential (mis)readings of that post (and others) in order to remind everybody that this space should not be used to speak badly of somebody else's scholarship, mentorship, blank-ship, etc. While I really don't see too much of a problem lately, I would stress the point made much earlier that "SCs" are people too. So do show them the same respect you would hope for in their stead - a place where we will hopefully all be soon!

To reiterate, I'd hoped that this space wouldn't require much active work for the "moderator", and for the most part I think that hope has been fulfilled. Please help keep it that way, and live up to all the good press we’ve received in the Chronicle.

Best wishes to everybody with the remainder of your searches, as well as any other issues as this season comes to a close. Please continue to send me thoughts and ideas for next year.

Yours,
Servius

Anonymous said...

I'll sign up to any petitions about the AP debacle, but in the meantime I was wondering why in Europe students think that any degree is good training for a job, while in the US the student philosophy is so goal-oriented. I find this especially paradoxical because in the US degrees tend to be far less specialised and many people choose afterwards to convert to law, medicine, etc. It seems bizarre to me that in an academically liberal culture as you have here, Classics and other humanities subjects require so much justification. I'm sad to say things are going the same way in the rest of the world too. And yet time and again the best students at the best universities manage to make highly successful, and *wealthy* careers from doing just about any degree they want. Christ people, pretty soon your life expectancy's going to be Methuselah-like - what's the pressure? (If Classics left you homeless and unemployed I'd get it, but that's not true, unless you go into academia of course...)

Anonymous said...

Ciao, amici. Io sono un "foreign Ph.D.". Che cosa e un "can of pansy-white-whup-ass"? E come posso usarlo per sottrarre i tuoi lavori?
Grazie mille,
Giovanni Doe

Anonymous said...

So I finally got around to reading the Feb. 2008 issue of the APA newsletter, which has a report of the Professional Matters committee (including placement). They also are concerned about early, pre-APA offers, senior hires, and the hiring of foreign nationals. Some things I didn't know:

-schools who register with the Placement Service cannot spend more than 10 hours interviewing candidates.
-the APA does not keep track of number of interviews for temporary jobs at the meetings. Why not? A lot more temp jobs, as we found out this year, are interviewing there.
-There's a lot of "must register" etc. language, but no mention of enforcement mechanisms.