Monday, September 1, 2008

Professional Developments

A thread devoted to questions of specialization, as well as professional and departmental expectations for philologists, historians, philosophers and archaeologists. Make it inclusive and welcoming, please!

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since WKH? came up... Does anyone know of a book that does a good job of selling Classics to non-classicists that isn't as hormonal as WKH?, as vaguely intellectual as Settis, and as choir-directed as Beard&Henderson?

Acronymous said...

WKH? WTF?

Anonymous said...

WKH? WTF?

Yeah, that was my reaction to the book as well...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Goldhill's "Who Needs Greek?"

This is a blind suggestion as I have never even picked it up!

Acronymous said...

Ah, ah, I got it, Who Killed Homer! I too was thinking it might be Who Kneads Hellenism (aka Greek)

Anonymous said...

Re: the Goldhill book, no no no no no.......

Anonymous said...

Lee T. Pearcy's Grammar of Our Civility does a good job, I think. Goldhill's Love, Sex and Tragedy is also interesting, although it is written for the imaginary American undergraduate who (Goldhill thinks) is mostly interested in the middle word of the title. I occasionally read WKH to have a good laugh - but it really riles me that he keeps on denigrating non-Western classics without knowing a thing about them.

Anonymous said...

So do we need a general introductory book? I'd appreciate one as something to work from when I teach intro. classics. To be honest, even though I can't stand WKH? I actually find it pretty good for stimulating discussion. If a new book would be popular, it'd need to be smart but not over-intellectual, it would need to be historical but also to take account of the state of Classics today, it would of course need to be multi-disciplinary but I think it would be better as a single-authored book, and it would really really need to be as politically unpartisan as possible.

Anonymous said...

"he" above referring to VDH - postscriptum.

Anonymous said...

VDH's position leaves me baffled: "we should study us, they should study us" (where us = Pericles + your favourite founding father). Okay, but when China and India turn round in fifty years time and quote those words back to us those same premises are going to lead to an entirely different conclusion (especially as Asian area studies programs expand). But it was never like a conservative to think fifty years down the line. There's got to be a more substantial argument if Classics is going to have a healthy long-term future. The sad thing is I don't think VDH is wrong to stick up for intellectual history, he just does it in such a cheap, offensive, and cack-handed way he undermines the force of his own argument.

Anonymous said...

Let's leave the gratuitous political slams off this blog, please. Conservatives and liberals alike in US history have demonstrated that they are incapable of thinking fifty years ahead. Not everyone here is a typical academic liberal. Try to remember that.

Anonymous said...

Let's leave the gratuitous political slams off this blog, please.

It is hard to discuss a polarizing figure who can't keep his politics out of his scholarship without it coming out. The same seems to happen in discussion of Marxists and Feminists as well.

Anonymous said...

I dare anyone who dislikes VDH's politics to read his National Review Online columns with an open mind for a period of six months and not get at least some appreciation for where he's coming from.

Anonymous said...

I dare anyone who doesn't like being hit in the forehead with ball-peen hammers to spend six months hitting themselves in the forehead with a ball-peen hammer.

Nemo said...

I double-dare anybody who detests sticking forks in their eyes to stick a large soup spoon up their nose. I still refuse to read VDH in the NR. Blech.

Nemo said...

Instead of WKH-VDH I suggest Bernard Knox's "Backing into the Future".

Anonymous said...

Speaking of who killed Homer, did anyone notice Homer's near total absence from the program for this year? Aside from linguistics and reception, I only see one actual talk on the Homeric poems.... There's usually two panels wholly devoted to Homer.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of who killed Homer, did anyone notice Homer's near total absence from the program for this year? Aside from linguistics and reception, I only see one actual talk on the Homeric poems.... There's usually two panels wholly devoted to Homer.

Looks like many of the canon authors got put on Sunday as well. Big ol' conspiracy, that's what it is.

Anonymous said...

It makes me feel better about my Homer talk being rejected....

Anonymous said...

"Gratuitous" political slam? The woes of WKH? spring directly from its politics. So how can any attack of the above sort be gratuitous? And it shouldn't matter what the political spectrum of blog readers is. If the mode of argument sucks, the mode of argument sucks. Or are you saying that Republicans are bound to admire WKH? uncritically? I give some of them more credit than that.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least everybody can relax about the job market. Apparently the economy just has a little head cold, and all we need to do is show a stiff upper lip. You know, like the Spartans or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least everybody can relax about the job market. Apparently the economy just has a little head cold, and all we need to do is show a stiff upper lip. You know, like the Spartans or whatever.

Well, the phrase "head cold" doesn't appear anywhere in that piece. But he's absolutely right about the economy as a whole: things are bad, but not nearly as bad as they have been in the past (and not just the depression, also the recession of the late 1950's); things might get much, much worse, but it's far from certain that they will. And, to be honest, a recession like this one in many respects is a very good and healthy thing in the long run, despite the suffering it causes in the short term. So VDH, who has lived long enough to see plenty of expansions, recessions, and even numerous bubbles, is obviously wise enough not to panic over the current economic situation.

Now, as in any recession, some sectors are hit harder than others, and this obviously isn't the best time to be on the academic job market. But that doesn't mean that anything VDH wrote there about the economy isn't perfectly sensible. You just have to make the mental adjustment to the "new normal," to take a phrase from 2001.

Anonymous said...

"Send federal money to the states, but make sure a lot of it goes to state universities"
Thus sayeth David Brooks in his newest NYT column (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/28/opinion/28brooks.html?_r=1). I would far rather read a sensible conservative like him than VDH.

Anonymous said...

But that doesn't mean that anything VDH wrote there about the economy isn't perfectly sensible.

I strongly agree. Personally, I think that if you whiners out there were a little more virile then we wouldn't be having any problems. Not that we are having any problems, mind you. Because we're not. But I'm just saying that, if we were (which, I cannot stress strongly enough, we are not), it'd probably be the fault of you whiners and not of anybody who was in control of the government for the past eight years (which BTW were 5 lbs of awesome in a 1 lb bag).

Anonymous said...

I know we're getting a bit sidetracked here but, satire notwithstanding, wasn't the policy of fiscal deregulation actually that of your favourite actor-president, dutifully preserved by his successors? (Which still leaves GWB 4lbs of awesome, cause for much self-flagellation no doubt).

But in sum, no, there's no decent book on why Classics rocks (perhaps it doesn't?), and yes, despite some good qualities, WKH? sucks like Charybdis. Is that about right?

Anonymous said...

there's no decent book on why Classics rocks

Correct. However, if we were to cut the capital gains tax, then the magic of the market would see to it that there were six excellent, low-priced books about why Classics rocks.

However, since the Democrats continue to fight off our free-market paradise, I'm afraid that the only alternative is for the Treasury Department to give me a $300 billion bailout package so that I can finish my book about Classics for a general audience. Books about Classics for a general audience are the lifeblood of our economy, and if I am allowed to fail the whole system will come down with me.

Philo said...

Classics Journal Wiki

I don't know where to post this, but this seems as good a place as any.

I have submitted a few articles in the last couple of years and have been struck by the variability of response times, etc. One of my research fields is ancient philosophy, so I check in on this Wiki occasionally:

http://wikihost.org/wikis/philjinfo/wiki/start

I find it useful, and would like something similar for Classics. Does anybody else agree, and should we start one?

Anonymous said...

If you think that lowering or eliminating the capital gains tax is a bad thing, that says far more about you than the capital gains tax.

Anonymous said...

I know I left those fasces around here somewhere....... Oh, wait, is this Famae Volent or The Free Republic?

Anonymous said...

If you think that lowering or eliminating the capital gains tax is a bad thing, that says far more about you than the capital gains tax.

I would respond to this, but I'm too busy having my boat lifted by the rising tide of prosperity.

Whee!!!

Sisyphus said...

Welcome back from Thanksgiving Break everybody!

I imagine many of you spent it like I did - trying to explain to friends and family that you can't simply apply to the local university, that the academic job-market is more like the NFL draft, and that this year ticket sales have plummeted so badly that few teams have the means to lay out for new talent. Fortunately for me, I still have a year's worth of college eligibility, but for many of my friends this is it. I think, however, that next year will be even worse, so even I am feeling the pressure now.

I went upstairs to my old room, stared at my old Mets posters, played trash-can basketball for a few hours, and then tried to figure out exactly how much worse it is this year than in the past. Because, as we all know, it sucks. It really, really sucks.

Well, you know what? It f@*$^!g sucks. It really, really, really f@*$^!g sucks.

I counted the jobs advertised by Dec. 1st in the past three seasons, including this year's. Here are the stats:

Dec. 1st 2006
Total Jobs = 159
Permanent (TT, Senior, et al.) = 121
Temporary (1-year, Post-Doc, et al.) = 39

Dec. 1st 2007
Total Jobs = 156
Permanent (TT, Senior, et al.) = 120
Temporary (1-year, Post-Doc, et al.) = 36

Dec. 1st 2008
Total Jobs = 100
Permanent (TT, Senior, et al.) = 73
Temporary (1-year, Post-Doc, et al.) = 27

The percentage of permanent jobs out of the whole has remained steady, but the overall numbers have dropped by almost 40%. To add insults to injuries, 5 of those 73 permanent jobs for this year have already been canceled and presumably there is more of that where it came from.

I'm planning to pack a case of Boone's in my luggage for Philly. I won't be able to afford the bar, but I'll need to drink myself silly after the few interviews I end up getting. Look for me in the lobby, sitting on the floor next to the elevators. I'll share.

Anonymous said...

Sisy, since it sounds like you have time, I would be interested to see the breakdown by sub-discipline, whether those particular percentages have held or not. Now get to it! :-)

Ixion said...

Sisyphus,

Awesome! I'll bring the silver spray-paint and wool socks. Make sure and wear your hoodie to trap the fumes.

Anonymous said...

A $10,000 bonus for good student evaluations? Coming to a university near you! If you live in College Station, TX, that is.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for those of you who have some experience in these matters, preferably those who have served/are serving on search committees. Given the large number of people who will not be able to find a job in this year's market, some of those will still be fairly well qualified, the sort of people who would have found a position in any normal market (especially promising ABDs on whom the majority of committees just aren't prepared to take any risks). What sort of activity for the year ahead (since employment in Classics has been ruled out) would be *least* damaging for said people, when it comes time to apply again next year? Unemployment? Highschool teaching? Obviously publishing is a good idea, but what sort of gainful employment looks the least like failure and the most like a year of pre-academic preparation?

Anonymous said...

I've been pondering this question myself. Yeah, yeah, publishing, everyone knows that. But what form of employment: none? high school? adjuncting? one-semester job? going back to grad school for a degree in something different? (I'm contemplating a professional master's.)

Anonymous said...

Adjuncting or being in some unpaid research position connected to a university is probably the safest way to go. On the other hand, if you really want to make a living, high school is probably good. Once you are into high school though, you tend to be sucked into their system and not be able to come back to the u. level.