Sunday, August 1, 2010

Klassik Kvetch Klatsch

Yes, this is the thread where everyone comes to bitch, moan, and let off some steam.

1,432 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Ha! Cornell lost a Late Antique archaeologist so they're now searching for someone who does Roman archaeology OR classical lit? Talk about hedging one's bet. I'll kiss a sabretooth's ass if a Roman arch gets hired.

Anonymous said...

it seems an odd scene at Cornell ... that department lost said Late Roman archaeologist and picked up another associate rank art historical Greece/Rome person at the same time, with no search for the latter. So the chances of them hiring another archaeologist seem slim to this observer.

Anonymous said...

As a junior scholar in a program that confers Ph.D.s in archaeology, I'm troubled by what I perceive to be a conservative streak during these bad economic times. After a push in the 80s and early 90s to have classical archaeology join mainstream discussions, we seem to have regressed back to favoring the study of coins, architecture, sculpture, etc. There is nothing wrong with these topics, but I fear we are limiting and isolating ourselves if we follow this path. Do we just reject the applicant who received a masters in England focusing on GIS or petrography? (BTW, kudos to Cornell for having a UK trained classicist along these lines.)

Anonymous said...

I'm troubled by what I perceive to be a conservative streak during these bad economic times. After a push in the 80s and early 90s to have classical archaeology join mainstream discussions, we seem to have regressed

Sorry, what link are you drawing between the recent recession and atavism in archaeology? I'm not following.

Anonymous said...

Whitman College is looking for someone to combine classics with environmental studies! WTF?! Or the wave of the future....

Anonymous said...

Whitman College is looking for someone to combine classics with environmental studies! WTF?! Or the wave of the future....

This has "inside candidate" written all over it.

Anonymous said...

This has "inside candidate" written all over it.

There you go again.

Anonymous said...

Cornell also failed a TT-Latin Lit search two years in a row so it isn't replacing an archaeologist with a Latin lit. It is more likely them being told they can have either/or but not both.

Anonymous said...

"Cornell also failed a TT-Latin Lit search two years in a row"

Judging from the archives here and at the APA, this claim looks inaccurate.

Klaatu said...

Regardless, no matter how committed a classics department is to interdisciplinarity, I can't imagine any that would pick an archaeologist over a lit person (unless it's defcon 1 - i.e. about to be shut down or merged.)

Too cynical? Well, I've seen too many bipolar searches with results along these lines despite no archaeologist on faculty and several already specializing in Latin lit. And good luck finding an established Roman archaeologist with a good field project. This is the expectation for archaeologists, which is obviously not the case for lit people who are often fresh off campus. Cornell will also be competing for an archaeologist with a slew of programs that are just as good if not better.

Anonymous said...

wow, thanks to Klaatu for being the first this season to bring back the myopic worldview of traditionally defined "classicists".

F. Gump said...

Traditional is as traditional does.

Anonymous said...

Klaatu, it's the failure to imagine it that keeps it from happening as often as you'd like it to.

Anonymous said...

Klaatu said...
"Regardless, no matter how committed a classics department is to interdisciplinarity, I can't imagine any that would pick an archaeologist over a lit person"

This is ridiculous.

1) Although there are very few philologists who think material culture is the center of the universe, there are just tons of lit and history people who want a few archaeologists in the dept so that they and their students can be better informed about the art & archaeology & history of the periods they work on.

2) Even apart from the question of which one a dept needs more, a great arch person will be a more attractive colleague than a mediocre lit person (for one thing, he/she will not screw up the philologist's students).

3) Those are general comments. A particular dept can have god knows what motives, history, pressures, agendas.

Anonymous said...

"POSITIONS FOR CLASSICISTS AND ARCHAEOLOGISTS are published on or about the 15th of each month."

The APA is stretching the meaning of "about."

Servius said...

"POSITIONS FOR CLASSICISTS AND ARCHAEOLOGISTS are published on or about the 15th of each month."

The APA is stretching the meaning of "about."


I received an email from the placement service last week, but if you aren't registered with the service you'll have to wait until this coming week to see the new jobs. That probably explains why "about" seems so stretched to you.

You aren't missing much, unfortunately. :^)

Anonymous said...

Those of us who aren't on the market and therefore don't want to register with the placement service sometimes still want to see what jobs are available. If the APA website isn't going to do what it advertises, it shouldn't advertise it.

Sorry, but this is a thread for complaining.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if what you got from the placement service is what is now available on the website, then I'm not quite sure how you could say that we weren't missing much. What alternative universe do you live in, where this many good jobs are available at a time when most universities are in financial trouble, whole departments are being terminated, and there's no sign of real economic recovery in sight? I'd say we're doing pretty well with this month's listings.

Servius said...

I suppose, given the general financial climate, we should be thankful. Compared to the last few years (yes, I've been on the market for a while), however, it seems like a pretty weak mid-September total. Especially so as far as my own field is concerned.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the placement service, I recently sent in my registration form, and was amazed to see that the APA is FINALLY edging into the 21st century, using a .pdf file that one can fill in. But why on earth isn't it the sort that lets one save information? Wouldn't it be easier to do it that way, and let us e-mail the file (as is widely done these days)? And moreover, why in the hell don't we just fill in an online form that saves this information? It seems like an absurd waste of time and money for the APA to reenter all this, which happens when we submit information on paper instead of electronically. I guess what I'm saying is, I wonder why the APA bothered to switch over to .pdf files, but didn't go all the way. Do they have any clue that computers can 1) make our lives easier and 2) lead to economic efficiency? For a cash-strapped non-profit organization, I'd think the latter is sort of important...

not Klatu said...

This is ridiculous.

Not really.

1) Although there are very few philologists who think material culture is the center of the universe, there are just tons of lit and history people who want a few archaeologists in the dept so that they and their students can be better informed about the art & archaeology & history of the periods they work on.

As a material-culturish historian, I wish the vast majority of my lit colleagues would even think about material culture once in a while (let's be honest, how many think about the ramifications of material culture at all?). It doesn't have to be the center of the universe, or even Mars, but could it at least be Neptune? Pluto?

Regardless of what they want, the results are disappointing at best. There are plenty of stand-alone departments without a single archaeologist, yet they have more than four philologists. When push comes to shove, I usually find archaeology to be relegated as a luxury.

2) Even apart from the question of which one a dept needs more, a great arch person will be a more attractive colleague than a mediocre lit person (for one thing, he/she will not screw up the philologist's students).

Here we agree 100%, but once again reality is painful. I know of dozens of top-rate archaeologists (who all have training at top-10 programs) toiling away for years at VAPs or asked to fill a ciruclar hole as a square peg. Yes, this happens to philologists, but not of the same caliber. I can think of several lights-out brilliant senior archaeologists with distinguished careers who had to toil like this. There is no way the same caliber philologists toiled like this, unless you consider a TT job at a second-tier R1 toiling. Most archaeologists I know are in their late 30s or 40s when they're finally in a decent job and humming along (if they stick around). A much higher percentage of philologists are given this opportunity in their 20s and early 30s, fresh out of grad school. Whether you believe it or not, I think the path for an archaeologist is a bit too hard while that of a philologist is a bit too easy, considering the overall circumstances. I don't really have a dog in this fight as I think historians are about where we should be. Peace.

Phil said...

Whether you believe it or not, I think the path for an archaeologist is a bit too hard while that of a philologist is a bit too easy, considering the overall circumstances.

I don't think anybody in classics has it "too easy." This field is incredibly competitive, and stupefyingly difficult to succeed in. The playing field ought to be more level, but let's figure out ways to make it easier for all.

Anonymous said...

Klaatu said...
"Regardless, no matter how committed a classics department is to interdisciplinarity, I can't imagine any that would pick an archaeologist over a lit person"

I criticized this point, and Klaatu comes back with a lot of off the point and poorly reasoned claims. Knowing about SEVERAL depts that don't have any arch should not mean you can't imagine ANY that would pick arch over lit. (I know several academics without beards--what should we conclude from that?) I've been in the room when arch was picked over lit, more than once. And knowing more arch types than philologists who have trouble getting jobs can well be a product of who you know. There are plenty of philologists with PhD who had to leave the field or toil for years in rough jobs; usually only their friends and relatives know about them. These claims are all just staggeringly innumerate nonsense.

have you hugged your dean today? said...

Sounds like some people need a hug.

Anonymous said...

If you freakin historians and archaeologists are so unhappy, why don't you leave already? Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys, we need to stop this bickering and unite against our common enemy: the critical-theory jerks!

Michael Grant said...

"If you freakin historians and archaeologists are so unhappy, why don't you leave already? Good riddance."

I'm trying, already! I'm applying to every single history department opening I can. No more teaching of Greek and Latin for me -- Western Civ lectures here I come!

Anonymous said...

So last year at this time there were 51 jobs listed. This year we have 47. Not too shabby. I had thought this year would be much worse. Not sure if certain fields are better or worse off, though.

Anonymous said...

"I'm trying, already! I'm applying to every single history department opening I can. No more teaching of Greek and Latin for me -- Western Civ lectures here I come!"

Great, we just need to chase Klaatu out the door and we'll start making progress.

Anonymous said...

The most discouraging thing about this whole job market experience is coming onto this page and seeing just how effectively we're going to perpetuate all of the stereotypes and mistakes of past generations of Classicists. Philologists will always hate and resent their neighborly Archaeologists, and both sides will always be convinced that the Historians are all morons who just couldn't cut it in the languages. None of us will ever respect anyone who doesn't do exactly what we do, and yet somehow we're offended that nobody else respects us. So let the archaeologists go play in the dirt, the philologists go lock themselves into a dusty library by themselves for all eternity, and the historians go hide behind mid-20th century philosophies. By no means should we be the people who turn Classics into a field of collaborative scholars who share a mutual respect and understanding for the work of our colleagues, and who are all just trying to learn a bit more about how things used to be. And let us never teach any of the things we've learned to a new generation of interested students, lest they someday try to supplant us.

Every time I see someone from one field criticizing someone from another, I find myself wondering just how inadequate that first someone must feel. Sadly, pretty inadequate. But couldn't we all just try to get over ourselves? We all have our own skills and interests, but lately it all looks to me as if we're just killing our discipline by tearing it apart from the inside.

There, I've vented. Feeling much better now, but still thoroughly inadequate.

Anonymous said...

If this page is the most discouraging part, you must have it pretty good. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

@Anon September 24, 2010 2:18 PM

Indeed, I do have it "pretty good," as you suggest. I've had great good fortune in many areas of life, and I hope to experience more of the same on the job market this year. Best of luck to you and everyone else as well!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, how have historians in better years dealt with having interviews at both the APA and the AHA? Those usually seem scheduled at the same time.

Anonymous said...

In reply to above:

Assuming you get more APA interviews, just explain to the AHA folks the situation. They can then arrange for a skype/phone interview. Or, depending on schedule, you can try to hit the first couple days of one conference, and the last couple of days of the other. Easier last year when both were in California. This year? Not so much.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to kill myself if I don't get hired this time around - why should I join the swelling ranks of lumpen-intellectuals produced each year? It's so humiliating and stressful, because Ive always known that any occupation outside of academia is failure. No job, no hope of tenure and my .45 ACP will send me straight to Hell. It's better than getting a real job.

Anonymous said...

To the person threatening suicide,

If this is an attempt at a joke, please don't repeat it. It cuts a little close for comfort to many of us, and an anonymous forum is hardly the best place for such posts.

If it isn't, and you are feeling so desperate, please seek help. This whole job-seeking situation sucks, but it doesn't suck that bad!

Huh. My word verification is "faust" which seems kinda appropriate given the soul-selling feel of the humanities job market.

Seriously, though. Get some professional help if your thoughts are turning to suicide. That is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

We got rankings! said...

NRC Graduate School Rankings are out today!

Classics data can be found HERE

I averaged the R and S ranges to come up with the following overall rankings:

Stanford U.
Harvard U.
Princeton U.
Columbia U.
Duke U.
U. of Pennsylvania
U. of California at Berkeley
U. of California at Berkeley
U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor
U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Columbia U.
U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor
U. of Cincinnati Main Campus
Brown U.
U. of California at Los Angeles
Cornell U.
Yale U.
U. of Texas at Austin
Bryn Mawr College
Ohio State U. Main Campus
U. of Chicago
Johns Hopkins U.
U. of Southern California
U. of Wisconsin at Madison
U. of California at Irvine, at Riverside, and at San Diego
U. of Iowa
U. of Minnesota-Twin Cities
U. of Washington
Indiana U. at Bloomington
U. of Missouri at Columbia
U. at Buffalo (SUNY)

Seems about right. Some places (e.g. Columbia, Berkeley) have two slots because two different programs are ranked (e.g. Grad Group in Ancient History vs. Classics).

Nuggets:
Highest average completion percentage = Michigan at 100%
Lowest average completion percentage = Brown and USC (tied at zero?? WTF?)
Longest time to degree = Wisconsin at 12.8 years
Shortest time to degree = Iowa/Indiana/Buffalo at 6 years
Highest percentage female students = Harvard with 75%
Lowest percentage female students = Wisconsin with 18%
Highest percentage of foreign students = Buffalo with 36%
Lowest percentage of foreign students (tied with zero) = UCLA/Yale/OSU/UCI/Indiana)
Highest GRE Verbal scores = Berkeley Ancient History at 737
Lowest GRE Verbal scores = Harvard at 552 (though note Berkeley Classics at 580)

Morals of this story:

If you have low GRE scores, are concerned about external markers of prestige, and have trouble meeting women outside of class, go to Harvard.

If you have no concern about external markers of prestige, want to have as many foreigners as possible in your classes, and hope to get the hell out of grad school as quickly as possible, go to Buffalo.

If you want to delay entry into the real world as long as possible, drink lots of beer, and associate with women only on State Street, go to Wisconsin!

Leon Phelps said...

Damn, I knew I should have gone to Harvard.

Anonymous said...

Rankings? Rankings are for parents who send their kids to college. They don't send their kids to grad school.

Anonymous said...

4:09pm, I think you need to recheck the accuracy of your nuggets.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you say that because I know of a number of departments, including in classics, that proudly proclaim that they are a top 20 or 10 department based on these rankings.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that undergrads looking at grad school pay attention to these things. Normally a place like Cincy wouldn't cross the mind of an undergrad coming from the Ivies, but since the program is so highly ranked, it forces you to consider it.

Would I choose Cincy over Yale? For Archaeology, hell yeah. For other stuff? Not sure. The name recognition of a Yale degree carries some weight. And I suspect fancy little colleges would like to boast they have professors from Yale more so than Cincy, regardless of actual quality of program. So Yale has some extras attached to it simply because it is Yale.

Anonymous said...

Man, that's a preposterous ranking. I went to one of those programs listed in the top 10, and even when I was there it didn't belong in the top 10, and these days it most certainly doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"And let's not forget that undergrads looking at grad school pay attention to these things."

Absolutely. I remember friends in college posting a printout of the rankings above their desk.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the wiki is accurate in reporting that there are two TT jobs at Yale (Latin and Humanities+Classics)?

Anonymous said...

Re Yale:

I'm sure that is a leftover posting from last Spring, but the position was canceled. If it shows up in the Oct. listings, great. Until then I say we remove it from the wiki. What's one fewer job in the midst of such riches?

Servius said...

Recent comments moved from Job Announcements thread. Please reply in this thread as that one is reserved for the announcements themselves, not discussion of them.

Cheers,
Servius

....

Dear Texas-San Antonio,

Why is there such a big difference in teaching load between full-time, tenure track folks and adjuncts/instructors?

4/4 loads suck. Why do these positions have to be so damn exploitative?

No wonder there is such a divide between those who have and those who don't.

Sincerely Yours,
Unemployed PhD

October 6, 2010 10:37 AM

Anonymous said...

Yeah, San Antonio is a 4/4 load, plus since it's for Spring 2010, you need the ability to MOVE BACKWARDS IN TIME! These job requirements are getting ridiculous.

Please feel free to delete this after the ad has been corrected.

October 6, 2010 8:43 PM

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. Since I wrote a paper on the Fasti once that dealt with time, I think I have a good shot at the UTSA job!

October 7, 2010 10:06 AM

Anonymous said...

Why is there such a big difference in teaching load between full-time, tenure track folks and adjuncts/instructors?

4/4 loads suck. Why do these positions have to be so damn exploitative?


Because in general their purpose is to avoid hiring expensive tenure-track faculty (who have the same teaching load as tenured faculty). These positions exist in order to minimize expenditure or, in other words, to be "exploitative." If they weren't exploitative, there wouldn't be a reason for them to exist, except as temporary sabbatical replacement measures.

October 11, 2010 2:37 AM

Anonymous said...

The above makes no sense.

VAPs are regularly hired as sabbatical replacements, not as tenure-track positions. Such VAPs carry the same teaching load as the tenured/tenure-track person they replace. In the case of UTSA the load should be 2/2 (or 2/3) NOT 4/4. The institution is simply using the desperation of unemployed PhDs in order to squeeze extra teaching from an FTE that normally would see half of that. THAT is why it is exploitative.

October 11, 2010 3:24 PM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The above makes no sense....
VAPs are regularly hired as sabbatical replacements, not as tenure-track positions. Such VAPs carry the same teaching load as the tenured/tenure-track person they replace."

And their salary is paid with.... funds brought by the sabbatical fairy? Some VAPs are sabbatical replacements, but most sabbaticals (as opposed to leave without pay) only free up a portion of the sabbaticaler's salary. Some depts can only hire a VAP when two people win grants (which often cover half of salary), or when they make a deal with a dean. Other depts. need more TT lines, but are told they can only have a visitor--sometimes year after year. Having visitors teach slightly more courses should ideally only happen when they are not doing service and tutorials/theses and the rest of the faculty is doing a lot. The trend is unfortunately for deans to squeeze out more courses for less money. But there is no sabbatical fairy.

October 11, 2010 4:06 PM

Anonymous said...

It looks to me like the UTSA position is not a sabbatical replacement, but rather a renewable one-year with a much higher teaching load than the rest of the faculty.

In this case the schmuck who "gets" the job will teach twice as many courses as his/her colleagues, for less pay. In return they won't deal with committee work and the advising of theses. Seems like a trap, quite frankly. They'll be too exhausted to actually produce any scholarship and will thus be less and less competitive on the market, meaning they'll stick around until the admin decides to allocate those funds elsewhere. At that point they'll be unemployed and even more unemployable than they were when they took the position on. Of course in this market UTSA will have dozens of applicants, including half of the grad students in Austin, to choose from.

UTSA, I'd like you to meet Northwestern University. You two have a lot in common, I'm sure you'll have a great conversation.

Anonymous said...

"Such VAPs carry the same teaching load as the tenured/tenure-track person they replace."

Not in my experience at two different institutions, at both of which they carried the load that the other non-tenure-track faculty (lecturers) carried, not the load of the person they replaced. That load is normally determined by the college or university, not an individual department, and is standardized across the unit.

This is generally exploitative, but I'm not sure that UTSA is exploiting the current situation in particular or just carrying on their normal exploitative practices that apply to all years. Could be the former, but the logic of anonymous about the regular teaching load of VAPs rests upon what seems to me faulty info.

Anonymous said...

"UTSA, I'd like you to meet Northwestern University. You two have a lot in common, I'm sure you'll have a great conversation."

That made my week.

Anonymous said...

Where I teach now and where I went to grad school both have the same teaching loads for all full-time faculty, regardless of rank (unless one gets course-relief with external money, etc.).

I understand the financial motivation to have non-tenure-track faculty teach more than the "regular" faculty, but I agree also that it is "exploitative" of a terrible job market, pure and simple.

This is also bad for the system long-term. As admins realize they can staff courses with perfectly good PhDs at half the cost (actually less than half the cost when you figure in benefits) of ladder faculty they will continue to do so. This means fewer TT jobs for the field, and the slow dissolution of the humanities faculty in general.

So, defend the UTSA decision all you will, but this trend bodes ill for everybody.

Anonymous said...

I myself have held two VAP positions in which I had a 3-3 load and my colleagues 2-2, so I'm at least as good a witness as Herodotus that this does happen.

The reason, as stated above, is at least partly, if not wholly, the university's policies rather than the department's.

Anonymous said...

"So, defend the UTSA decision all you will, but this trend bodes ill for everybody."

Who has defended UTSA? I was merely pointing out that this is not limited to UTSA and probably is not a recent development there, and I was happy to agree that it is exploitative. As the poster after you points out about their differential teaching load, and as I pointed out from my own experience, it is not unusual for non-TT faculty to have heavier loads. No defense of that is implied, but the notion that this is a recent development or a limited one is simply not true for many institutions, where it is long established practice.

At the institution I currently work, the TT load is either 2/2 or 3/2. The non-TT full time lecturer load is always 3/3 and has been for at least 15 years. The only exceptions are where lecturers are granted a course release in exchange for other defined duties (such as being a department's professional academic advisor). 4/4 is especially noxious, but there has probably been on average one job per year over the last decade that requires it (just a guess based on my increasingly faulty memory). Again, not a good situation.

Anonymous said...

There is no question about a 4/4 being exploitative—but the creation of such a position has to be seen from the perspective of what is going on economically and of trends in higher education (where humanities departments are frequently the targets of budget cutters). The teaching load at places like UTSA is 3/2 for a TT; add to that the not inconsiderable service obligations of a state university, and it is not like the TT faculty are kicking back and relaxing (yes their positions are better).

The bigger issue is why such a position is offered in the first place. When an administrator, dean or chair, makes the funds available to add classes when other programs are cutting back, even the most principled of us face a tough decision. Exploiting an adjunct is wrong, but, when offering a few years of an instructorship proves student interest to administrators and raises overall program enrollment with the significant chance of securing a new TT line a few years down the road (while also providing hundreds of students with the opportunity to learn about a subject many of them would consider ‘foreign’ or useless otherwise) the calculus gets difficult.

None of this justifies the unfairness of the current academic labor market and many elements of the aforementioned ‘calculus’ may be exceedingly optimistic. Given the choice between making such a position available and offering more Classics courses with naive optimism or doing nothing, what would you do?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:26 Here.

These are all excellent points, and I suppose I am being somewhat unfair in my criticisms here. Also, to be clear, this has nothing to do with the UTSA Classics faculty themselves, who are bound by the system. It is better to offer a 4/4 job than none at all, I suppose. And certainly a 2/3 with all the other fun duties is no walk in the park.

However, I don't actually believe that a 4/4 position, even if it drums up student interest, will ultimately lead to a T-T position in most instances. Once the admin sees that the department can succeed with less, there is no incentive for them to increase resources to the department in the future. I foresee this becoming the norm. The next time somebody retires that FTE will be transferred to a "useful" department and Classics will either lose a line completely, or have it converted to a 4/4 annualized position.

What to do? Who knows. I guess I'd like to think that faculty would fight hard to have such positions be more equitable, but I suspect that this is done by admin fiat, who view these positions as easy labor.

Ultimately, we need to do a better job selling ourselves to the students, and thus to the bean counters, so that admins look to spread the pain evenly, across the institution, instead of lopping limbs, or heads, off of programs like Classics while leaving other fields untouched, or even growing. We can't point to our fund-raising abilities, nor appeal to our intrinsic worth (no matter how much we secretly believe in this). We have to get those footing the bills, the students and their parents, and even the taxpayers, to lend their support to our cause. How to do that? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anonymous said...

Check out what former Classics professor at Bucknell and current Provost at Christopher Newport University is introducing to his campus:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/10/12/cnu

Nicely done, moron.

With fools like this in our discipline it is no wonder we are losing respect.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine (w/ PhD and VAP experience) was offered that UTSA gig (3/3 at the time, possibly 4/4 if the enrollment was there) two years ago (2008/9) and was offered $2500/course. Needless to say, the person didn't take the job.

Of course, it didn't help that the same person had a phone interview for a TT position at UTSA some three weeks prior to that, and that there was no reference to the outcome of the prior interview, but now we're touching on matters of courtesy, professionalism, etc. and I believe that topic normally doesn't come up on FV until February or so....

Anonymous said...

"Given the choice between making such a position available and offering more Classics courses with naive optimism or doing nothing, what would you do?"

I totally understand that chairs and admins make difficult decisions. Nevertheless, I think we're on a slippery slope here. As a recent TT hire who's slogged through the VAP nightmare, I recenlty had a discussion with a senior colleague about the nature of VAPs. What disturbed me the most about the dicussion was the "you're too young to understand" tone taken by him. I should be worried about getting tenure and nothing else. Well, I hope I never do understand. I'm not an idiot, I want to get tenure, but not if it means that I propagate a system that cannot sustain itself and leads to the demise of our discipline. I know life isn't black and white, but I think there are those who dwell in the gray a bit too much. If I'm granted tenure, I hope there's a door #3 as I've found that tenured faculty generally fall into two categories when it comes to this matter - the good ones who care and eventually drink themselves into a stupor, and the Machiavellian who end up as long-term chairs and deans.

Anonymous said...

I think virtually all tenured and t-t faculty would prefer to be granted new tenured and t-t positions and not to staff courses with temporary faculty. And all else being equal administrators would prefer to grant those positions, too. But we're in a world in which there's less money and in which the costs of tenured and tenure-track faculty are very high and increasing (not salaries so much as benefits: health care insurance costs are rising rapidly across society, and the retirement benefit is life-long). So administrators staff courses with temporary faculty.

The other way of fixing this would be to abandon the institution of tenure that allows faculty to a degree to protect their teaching load and to remain at an institution long enough to see their salaries rise and to realize their retirement benefits. Administrators would probably be happy with that. But faculty are, I think understandably, reluctant to abandon their own tenure: tenure was a chief enticement to the career in the first place.

This is the solution that will be achieved in the long run in any case, though, not by faculty giving up their tenured status but by the non-replacement of tenured and t-t positions when faculty retire or leave. Parity will be achieved over time by the disappearance of tenured positions, and in the future everyone will be temporary faculty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the buzz-kill, man.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the buzz-kill, man.

Sorry. For what it's worth, if the process goes like that, it'll take a good long while. If you get a tenured position, you'll probably get to keep it. It's just that as time goes on there'll probably be fewer tenured positions. And I guess eventually the paucity of tenured faculty will reach a critical point and there won't be enough of them to defend tenure? Who knows, though. The future is nothing if not obscure and full of surprises.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cornell:

What does it mean to have "Classical literature?" as one's "area of specialization?"

Anonymous said...

In Cornell's defense, I'm sure Biology departments have searches all the time that advertise a specialization in "Living Things".

Anonymous said...

Um...no.

Anonymous said...

In Cornell's defense, I'm sure Biology departments have searches all the time that advertise a specialization in "Living Things".

So you would define our discipline as "the study of classical literature"??? This pretty much exemplifies all that is wrong with our field.

Anonymous said...

I posted the original question for Cornell. Anonymous' (9:36 am) remark is appropriate, and certainly not indicative of any failing in "our" field. You see, the original post was a bit of sarcasm, as was, I believe, the reply. A couple of light-hearted jokes, no cause for revolution. I'm guessing the reply would have taken much more time to execute if the poster had set out to use as his analogy a discipline comprised of two sub-fields that stand in the exact proportion of importance to the entire discipline as Classical literature and the study of material culture stand to Classics. I'm not sure, but I suspect it wouldn't have been a joke by that time anyway. And even if the reply wasn't a joke, then it still need not imply that Classical literature is the sum total of the field of Classics. One might think, mightn't one, without tearing up the precious field too badly, that Classical literature is simply a large part of what Classicists do, maybe even--may I not hurt any feelings here--the bulk of it. The real threat to the field comes from those who take themselves and all this silly academic shit too seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm a philologist who thinks the Cornell ad is hilarious and ridiculous. Next year some place will ask for somebody who specializes in the "Classical World" or the "Culture of Greece and Rome." It makes about as much sense as "Classical Literature."

Oecumenicus said...

Give Cornell a break - they haven't been able to decide on a hire for, oh, forty-three years. Who can blame them if they cast their net a smidgen more widely than usual? God, you try to be inclusive...

Anonymous said...

Bridgewater State ran their job ad through the MLA, and not the APA.

WTF?

Anonymous said...

Why advertise through the APA if you're restricting your search to PhDs in English and Comp Lit?

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of an English PhD with a specialization in the literature of the ancient world. That's weird. Is this a job ad written for somebody in particular (i.e. inside candidate)? Bizarre position.

Anonymous said...

Probably Bridgewater State is worried that if they hire a classicist for a job with no language teaching they won't be happy. I'd assume that an application from a Classics PhD would be fine. Write to them and ask.

Anonymous said...

Probably Bridgewater State is worried that if they hire a classicist for a job with no language teaching they won't be happy.

So it sounds like they are actually looking for an archaeologist.

Ta tum tum!

;-)

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

Anonymous said...

This market bites sabretooth ass. Now if only it would bite them hard enough to convince some to swallow their republican pride and take Obama's healthcare to retirement.

Anonymous said...

The chair at Bridgewater tells me, "Don't hesitate to encourage classicists you know to apply for this position!" There is no language teaching and it is housed in the English dept.

Anonymous said...

1) Not only Republicans are reluctant to retire; sometimes ordinary people who like their jobs are, too.

2) You're being too optimistic if you think this market is bad because people need to retire. The market is bad because the economy is bad and because our universities do not value classical studies. In short, because our society is ill. Telling yourself that it's just a matter of too many people failing to retire is just wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

On the Cornell failed Latin TT:

Judging from the archives here and at the APA, this claim looks inaccurate.

Um, this archive only goes back 2 years. I interviewed for that Latin TT one year and know people who interviewed for it the year after. There was hiring before the wiki, you know.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be some misinformation about the Cornell Latin search in years past. As I understand it, it failed once and was canceled the next year for budgetary reasons; that's all.

Anonymous said...

Re: Cornell Latin

Crede experto, here's what happened:

In AY 2007-08, they ran a Latin search that brought four finalists to campus, but they didn't offer the position.

The dept. was told they could run the same search in AY 2008-09, but that search was placed on hold for budgetary reasons.

It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Based on experience, how big will the November job list be? I'm counting around 30 TT junior jobs. Some have already been cancelled. What will the final count be? 50? I'm stretching and barely feel comfortable sending ten apps out.

Anonymous said...

The Nov. list is likely to be smallish, would be my guess. The newly listed positions in the Nov. tend to be those that only received relatively late approval on the institution's end. slim pickings...

Anonymous said...

I'd guess there will five or so new T-T jobs in the November list. But I wouldn't be surprised to see that many additional cancellations by early January. Another brutal year.

Anonymous said...

Not to be Pollyanna-ish here, but I do think Nov. is going to be much better than 5 new T-T positions. I'm guessing another 25. Or, I'm hoping that it will be another 25.

Anonymous said...

I think brutal pretty much sums it up. I've heard of a number of requested searches that went unapproved. I'm not talking about asking for a fifth Latinist. These are positions that have been left open for years in some cases. In others, it's an attempt to get one person to replace three that have left over the past decade. Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

Anonymous said...

One can obviously apply to all generalist positions. How about positions that state a "preference" for a speciality. Do people just apply to every job that remotely resembles a classics position? I've heard of people sending out 50+ apps. How is this possible?

Calamity Jane said...

My approach, which is based on nothing but hope and statistics, is to shoot for everything even remotely possible. The only thing you have to lose is a little more time, and a few dollars on postage. In this environment you need to maximize your chances.

Plus, one never knows what SCs "really" want because the ads often have to get stamped by HR before going out. This means that the people actually reading your file may have an agenda different than that stated in the ad itself. Now, if they are asking for an archaeologist (I'm not one) I don't bother, but if the ad leaves even a small opening, I take it. I've gotten interviews for jobs in which the ad said they preferred a Hellenist (I'm a Latinist). I've also seen Hellenists hired for positions where the ad said they preferred a Latinist (Grrrrrrrrr).

Finally, this does get your name out there, and who knows if someone on the SC will remember your dossier in the future, when the do have a slot that matches you more closely.

Some people don't agree with this approach, but I'd rather go down firing than feel completely helpless.

Anonymous said...

Don't apply for "everything even remotely possible." If they advertise for a dog and you're a cat, don't apply; you'll just piss people off. If they say they *prefer* a dog and you're a cat, fire away, because what they really want is a pet.

Anonymous said...

Finally, this does get your name out there, and who knows if someone on the SC will remember your dossier in the future, when the do have a slot that matches you more closely.

This specific rationale isn't good. There's no positive name recognition value to be gained from applying for Greek epigraphy positions when you work on Roman epic, and when your profile doesn't fit the position the committee isn't going to read your file and won't have the opportunity to learn anything about you. The only conceivable impression they'll attach to your name is that you're a person who can't read an ad.

Apply if the ad leaves any room for someone who does what you do. if it doesn't, the odds are so bad that they're not worth what you'll spend on postage.

Anonymous said...

Calamity Jane is right. I've been invited to apply to positions where, in the end, they hired someone not remotely connected to what I do. It's a game with no rules.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of applying widely, given the state not only of the economy but also our profession in general, it's truly bizarre to see Iowa want an ancient medical specialist. I mean really.

Anonymous said...

Iowa, like several schools, offer a medical terminology course to sustain its enrollment. By looking for an ancient medical specialist, they may just be looking to build on that, develop more links with Medicine and Science, and set themselves apart from other classics departments.

Which would be, y'know, smart.

Anonymous said...

I think Iowa's being smart. Do you really need that third Latinist? Really? The departments that survive and thrive are not those which make a last ditch effort when deans are already thinking elimination or consolidation. It's too late at that point. Classics in the 21st century can no longer survive because "we are" since the foundation of the university. I think some of the recent interdisciplinary efforts are a little far-fetched, but Iowa definitely doesn't fall into this category.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the MedTerm craze, myself. And I doubt such courses will do much to save a doomed program.

Anonymous said...

Better chance than if you hired that fifth Latinist on the hopes that s/he will produce new scholarship that will impress more than the 500 of us in the field.

Anonymous said...

Lousy market this year, especially with the obvious insider jobs.

Anonymous said...

Is it conspiracy season already? That's usually late November.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the MedTerm craze, myself. And I doubt such courses will do much to save a doomed program.


An etymology course has been taught at Washington University in St. Louis for some time, and that's a program that is thriving, not "doomed." At some schools such a course can play a useful role in the education of pre-meds and science-oriented students, and isn't some desperate ploy to save a department. Frankly, I'm surprised that it isn't done more widely.

Anonymous said...

Wash U is a great example. It just happens to have one of the best medical programs. It pays to build relationships with top programs at the same instiitution. Besides the benefits of cross-pollination, you can never have too many friends, especially when the top programs tend to place deans into the administration.

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with the CSU-Sacramento ancient history search? They want a Hellenistic-Roman Egypt specialist, who also speaks modern Greek? And they want you to write a book and mail it all to them?

Inside job or just lofty expectations?

Anonymous said...

My favorites are the tenured associate/full searches with October deadlines where there are already visiting associates/full on the faculty.

Anonymous said...

Re: Sacramento.
It could also be a history dept. search that was planned by folks with little knowledge about our field. Note too that it says fluency in modern Greek is preferred, not required. I see no reason why classicists (with sufficiently broad interests/abilities) shouldn't apply, even though the CSU system may be kind of lousy right now.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across a very interesting set of threads over at the Tenured Radical. They deal with academic salaries, which are normally taboo. For those of us on the market, however, I think it is eye-opening to see the numbers, and the problem of salary compression (something I never thought about before).

They are:

one

two

three

Especially valuable are the comments, which share actual salary data. One mind-boggling real-life example was a full professor with 23 years of experience making 61k/year. Pathetic. I should have become a plumber.

Neo said...

You still can be a plumber.

Anonymous said...

Depends where you're located. $61k isn't outrageous for many parts of the country.

Anonymous said...

Depends where you're located. $61k isn't outrageous for many parts of the country.

Misses the point. 61K for somebody at full, with almost a quarter century of service, and (presumably) very high educational attainment, is very, very low pay. That is lower than entering ABD's are getting at many places.

Anonymous said...

I'll play along. For every full prof getting $61k, I would guess there are ten making $100k+. In my experience, the majority of these massive earners are not even close to earning their pay. Just as with elderly drivers, I think there should be some evaluations once someone hits ~65. If it's painfully obvious that someone is an albatross, a humane alternative should be presented - e.g. 1/2 pay for 1/2 employment. And yes, I would be all for this when I hit 65 in just under twenty years.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I'll play along. For every full prof getting $61k, I would guess there are ten making $100k+."

Actually I think the numbers above and below 100k are pretty much the same, i.e. it's a median. And there are plenty of people far above it and far below it.

Here are stats e.g. for Connecticut; you can change the state etc.
http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/index.php?action=result&search=Enter+an+institution+name&state=Connecticut&year=2010&category=&withRanks=1

Anonymous said...

If $100k is the median, than the ratio previously posted is probably accurate. No matter what part of the country, I doubt too many full professors make $60k. Regardless, I would be hesitant to take up such an outlying figure as a battle cry. I doubt we would get too much sympathy.

Anonymous said...

If it's painfully obvious that someone is an albatross, a humane alternative should be presented - e.g. 1/2 pay for 1/2 employment. And yes, I would be all for this when I hit 65 in just under twenty years.

I do understand your point of view, but it's not as if everyone in the world of business is equally valuable in their later years, and yet they can make considerable money sitting on boards, etc. doing relatively little work. It's easy enough to support a more transparent assessment of value across the board, but why should we volunteer to start with a profession that already gets the shaft? Especially when there's little sign of other professions adopting a similarly enlightened policy. I'm not in favour of senior academics sitting idle, but the rife stories of complacency are not borne out by my experience at least.

Anonymous said...

I doubt we're getting TARP-like funds any time soon. Even if we did, it would go to the law/medical/business schools first.

Anonymous said...

Going back to the discussion about the number of TT jobs to expect in the November 15 announcement, I note that in the past two weeks only 2 have appeared. That estimate of 5 seemed low to me at the time but it is looking way more likely than 25 at this point.

Anonymous said...

It's been almost exactly a year since the recession hit rock bottom (if the experts are correct). With the usual lag time in academia, perhaps we've hit rock bottom for jobs? I hope so since there was something like 40 junior TT jobs last year and it looks to be even less this year. Anyone who has graduated in the last several years-sucks to be us.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who thought we'd see 25 new T-T jobs in November.

Can I emend that prediction in light of Tuesday's elections?

I think we'll see 7 new T-T jobs in the Nov. listings, but see 4 cancellations of T-T jobs by January.

Sucks to be us.

Anonymous said...

Can we really try to see a correlation between the number of tt jobs and the recent elections? If so, how do we go about doing that math? Because I'd love to know how to vote in the future...

Anonymous said...

Republicans took control of a number of state governments with this election. Because institutions know that budgets are now likely to be slashed even more because of this it is likely that they will preemptively deny requests for tenure lines, and probably cancel more than a few that are already approved. There are many reasons to never vote Republican, but if you hope to work in higher education, self-preservation is another one.

Anonymous said...

So is this going to be the shortest November jobs listing ever?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know how to vote in the future...

Yeah, it's a real mystery, alright. Which party supports public education and progressive taxation? Republicans? Democrats? Who can tell?

Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I always seems like a safe assumption that the Democrats will give everyone a job and the Republicans will try to take all the jobs away, but does anyone have "actual" information from the last couple decades that would definitively link a political party to academic job growth?

Anonymous said...

(Oops. "It")

Anonymous said...

I may be a tenured classicist at a private SLAC, but I think no matter my job status I'd have to say it's really tiresome to get this kneejerk "Democrats good, Republicans bad" mantra from academics. I mean in some departments one of the only acceptable forms of prejudice is against Republicans. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Anon. 11.7 11:31. Quit making assumptions as simplistic as "one party bad, the other good." You wouldn't write a article like that, would you? If you made that same statement about members of a minority group, you'd be guilty of some -ism or other. Grow up and quit discriminating against others. Because the other side is a lot better than you think it is.

(As for which party to vote for? Read a little economic history with an open mind. You'll be surprised at what you conclude.)

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone on this board has suggested that Democrats are "good".

But if you were at a state school like mine I don't think you would need anyone to explain to you why the current breed of Republicans are much the greater of two evils.

Anonymous said...

Repeat after me:

"Democrats good, Republicans bad. Democrats good, Republicans bad."

At least until the current craziness infecting the Republican party (Christianism, Palinism, and Know-Nothingism) is cured, the above mantra holds. We need a responsible, conservative party. These Republicans aren't that. And they are *terrible* when it comes to funding public education, so we in academia are doubly justified in voting against them. Sorry, this isn't a matter of academic prejudice, but of common sense. Maybe a tenured faculty member at a well-endowed SLAC can afford to be foolish, but the rest of us can't.

Anonymous said...

After republicans, christians are definitely the next easiest target in academia (hate those guys). Then come whites, males, people with money, people who "know" less than we do, and kittens, in no particular order. Didn't anyone else take that "appropriate discrimination" course in college?

Anonymous said...

My classics dept. has a white male Christian Republican who probably has more money than the rest of the faculty combined, and yes, he is an absolute monster to work with.

I'll keep my prejudices.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, you know a blog has jumped the shark when the reverse discrimination card is played. I'm just waiting for the "black people are racist" comment.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't we grouse? It's the worst market in years and years. It's not like there are any jobs to apply for.

Anonymous said...

If you made that same statement about members of a minority group, you'd be guilty of some -ism or other. Grow up and quit discriminating against others.

You're right, I guess I'm just racist against Republican policies and positions.

Wait, what?

Would You Like Fries With That? said...

There are plenty of jobs, just not in classics.

Anonymous said...

Frakkin' kittens.

I hate 'em.

Anonymous said...

After republicans, christians are definitely the next easiest target in academia (hate those guys). Then come whites, males, people with money, people who "know" less than we do, and kittens, in no particular order.

No, everybody likes kittens.

Maybe it's because they don't constantly moan about how they're discriminated against despite being the most economically, socially, politically, and culturally privileged people in the country.

Or maybe it's because of their cute widdle whiskers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt the fascinating political banter, but was there an early edition jobs email this month? I didn't get one...

Anonymous said...

"Early" is going to be understood in its loosest sense this month, apparently. I haven't received anything yet either.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, we will be lucky to receive the standard listing on time this month. I know hope springs eternal, but will another five jobs that contain maybe a job or two you're qualifed for make a big difference? I suppose it might in a relative sense given the current dire situation. At this point, I think it's time to brace for a good number of VAPs.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the early edition- check you email! But don't expect a list of jobs; rather prepare for your loathing of the placement service to increase exponentially.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to go through the APA Placement Service if you are on the market? If you don't sign up for it can you arrange interview slots directly with the departments that want to talk to you? What exactly am I missing by not shelling out the fee?

Anonymous said...

If you don't sign up for it can you arrange interview slots directly with the departments that want to talk to you?

In most cases, no.

But there are a few departments out there, usually smaller ones, who will make their own arrangements, show up at the APA and interview candidates in the lobby or some other open space.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, how does the Placement Service timetabling work? Do you give them a list of times you're not available (i.e. when you're presenting), or do they just do it all for you?

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, how does the Placement Service timetabling work? Do you give them a list of times you're not available (i.e. when you're presenting), or do they just do it all for you?

Well, it all starts with the carbon triplicate forms, and it just gets worse from there...

Anonymous said...

As a tenured prof, I apologize to all candidates for the Placement Service. It's bad enough the market itself is terrible; candidates really deserve better than the Service they are forced to deal with every year.

Anonymous said...

And pay for.

Anonymous said...

An all too familiar part of this saga, which for some of us is now an annual trip into the land of despair, confusion, doubt: the AIA/APA Placement Service is a disaster. Candidates find it lousy, tenured faculty weigh in to apologize for its ineptness (thanks for that, BTW, tenured prof), but no one in either the AIA or APA acts on improving the service. The responses on the part of the APA director in past seasons when the Placement Service has been less than wonderful have done little. What will it take for the Joint Committee on Placement to take action? To improve the service, make it more modernized, more professional? Time for action, folks.

Anonymous said...

Republicans took control of a number of state governments with this election. Because institutions know that budgets are now likely to be slashed even more because of this it is likely that they will preemptively deny requests for tenure lines, and probably cancel more than a few that are already approved. There are many reasons to never vote Republican, but if you hope to work in higher education, self-preservation is another one.

What a knee-jerk, damn fool comment. Let me ask you, do state legislatures slash education just for the fun of it? No -- cutting education is unpopular, so it's done when there are major budget crunches. Right now we've got one of the worst recessions in memory and states' budgets are mostly in deplorable condition. Moreover, in general the states with the greatest budget crises, with Exhibit A being California, are those where it's Democrats' irresponsible overspending that have caused the crises. In New York, California, New Jersey, etc. it's certainly not Republicans who created such bloated budgets and gave out 6-figure pensions to every dog-catcher. So if Republican legislators are slashing budgets, it's not because they're barbarians. (Well, not all barbarians.)

Learn how the world works, then formulate your opinions.

Anonymous said...

Bless your heart, tenured prof. As a candidate, I appreciate your sympathy for the crappy placement service. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why, given that we all know and all have known for *years* that the placement service is absolutely abysmal, we cannot improve it. How can it take *eight* days to send out an email with ten ads copied and pasted into it? How is it that registration does not take place online? How is it that we fail to avail ourselves of numerous event scheduling software options - ones that everyone could access online. There is no need for us to have to wait until Thursday, Jan. 6th to pick up interview schedules in person.

Exekias said...

>>Incidentally, how does the Placement Service timetabling work? Do you give them a list of times you're not available (i.e. when you're presenting), or do they just do it all for you?

They really will send you a triplicate form that you have to fill out and send back with your schedule. It will include dire warnings about how you will be punished by not learning about any interviews in advance if you do not return it by a certain date. The form will arrive in the mail two days (or less) before this cutoff date. They will not accept fax or e-mail submissions. You will therefore have no idea how many interviews (if any) you may have before the meetings you will spend $1000 of your own money to attend in the hopes of securing an on-campus interview. Sound about right?
Fortunately, most (but not all) schools let you know themselves that they wish to interview you in advance of the meetings. Perhaps not far enough in advance to get a cheap plane ticket if you are undecided, but enough to give you an idea of what awaits you when you arrive and are finally allowed to know your mysterious schedule, also delivered to you on handwritten notes on carbon paper.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and idiots like Anonymous 7:38 PM apparently still think that there is something objective about a "budget crunch". How about funding priorities, capitalism...and you keep your grubby hands off my father's plum job catching poodles in Connecticut! Classics is crazy.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me. This is a job search blog, not a political blog. I'm all in favor of endless kvetching about the awful state of the job market and the more awful state of the Placement Service, but some posters have crossed the line, in my opinion. I'd like to see the moderator remove a few of the last twenty or so posts. (Do we have a moderator?)

A. Hitchcock said...

"Classics is crazy."

If you just noticed this now, you're up shite creek. Haven't you ever noticed when you hang around classicists that it bears almost no resemblance to any slice of society outside of places like Iowa and a Mormon's convention? I've brought outsiders to the APA mingling areas and they all inevitably say, "Dude, it's like being sucked into the 50s or a Twilight Zone world."

Anonymous said...

Well, that's why we're screwed. We've mortally wounded ourselves by doing little to counter stereotypes about the discipline. Since Americans of European descent will be the minority by something like 2050, I think we know where this ride is going - the bowels of hell. Thank Jeebus we'll all be dead along with classics.

Anonymous said...

in general the states with the greatest budget crises, with Exhibit A being California, are those where it's Democrats' irresponsible overspending that have caused the crises.

Heard of Prop 13?

Anonymous said...

some posters have crossed the line, in my opinion. I'd like to see the moderator remove a few of the last twenty or so posts.

If only there were some way you could skip past the comments you aren't interested in to get to the ones you are. We could call this futuristic technique "scrolling down."

If anybody ever invents such a method, they'll make a mint.

Anonymous said...

They really will send you a triplicate form that you have to fill out and send back with your schedule. It will include dire warnings about how you will be punished by not learning about any interviews in advance if you do not return it by a certain date. The form will arrive in the mail two days (or less) before this cutoff date. They will not accept fax or e-mail submissions.

You're joking, aren't you? Aren't there any efforts to accommodate people coming in from abroad? Or those who are going home for the holidays?

Anonymous said...

This may be a dumb question, so I apologize for asking......

Why does the APA only send out the ads once or twice per month? They have a website, so why can't they post them immediately? I think it is funny (in an absurd way) that I am checking a wiki and a random job blog in order to find opportunities for academic employment as a phd. Are there legal issues involved? Does the APA have to approve job ads? Anybody know why they do it the way they do?

I mentioned the weird interview scheduling system to my spouse, who is a school administrator. His school uses an online program for parent/teacher conferences, and thinks the APA could easily do the same. Every teacher (job candidate) signs up, provides an "open" schedule, and then parents (schools) log in and select slots from that schedule. The system tells you if there are conflicts automatically and makes suggestions. His office isn't involved at all, and the teachers and parents love it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:08. That was not a joke. I am not the original poster, but I can confirm: you receive something in the mail, fill out your available times, and mail it back. All sounds well and good, but often you don't receive it until a day or two before (OR AFTER) it must be *received* back in Philly. The further you are away from Philly, the more likely you are to be screwed. No accommodations made for people who are out of town, or who live in another country. And if you complain, you'll receive a nasty (and very disrespectful) email. I say this will all sincerity: it is a deeply flawed system, and there is *no way* for you to beat it.

Anonymous said...

If you get an interview why can't you just arrange the time and place with your interviewers directly? How hard can it be to schedule a time and a place for meeting when you have a three day window in which to do it?

This system is baffling.

Jimmy said...

Word on the mean streets of Philly has it that the Placement Service just got a new batch of juiced-up hamsters to run their mimeograph machine!!! As soon as they find some of that sweet-smelling blue ink the November jobs will be posted, posthaste.

Anonymous said...

Why does the APA only send out the ads once or twice per month? They have a website, so why can't they post them immediately?

Because they want to charge for use of the service, right? And to charge, they have to be able to give you the "early" ads, before non-subscribers get them. Which means there have to be "later" ads. Which means hanging on to ads that they could just post right away if they wanted to. This actually did make sense back when it was a paper and USPS operation, but since the invention of the internet the only purpose of this system is to have something to charge for.

Every teacher (job candidate) signs up, provides an "open" schedule, and then parents (schools) log in and select slots from that schedule. The system tells you if there are conflicts automatically and makes suggestions. His office isn't involved at all, and the teachers and parents love it.

And there you go. Set up software that works and there is less for the people who run the office to do. Instead of being paid to do nothing, staff would presumably be laid off. This is why neither the office nor the APA has any interest in setting up an automatic scheduling system. And I get it: I wouldn't want to be in the position of firing people whose jobs had become obsolete.

But if I were in a job like that, I'd at least try to be nice and accommodating to my customers.

Anonymous said...

The way the Placement Service does things is absolutely deplorable in this day and age, when computers have completely changed the way things can be done -- in registering with the service, in circulating ads when they come in rather than twice a month (a vestige of when lists were sent by snail mail), in terms of giving available times for interviews, and of course setting up interviews. Simple software -- some of it even free on the internet! -- can handle almost all of what what the Placement Service does, and in a much more efficient and cheaper manner. (Why the APA, a non-profit that needs funds, keeps wasting them in this way is beyond me.)

I myself have personally discussed these problems at length with a member of the APA committee who oversees all this, but that got nowhere. Perhaps if multiple DGS's wrote Eric Gruen, the chair, and Adam Blistein it might finally get some movement.

For the list of committee members, just go to http://apaclassics.org/index.php/about_the_APA/board and look for the Joint Committee on Placement.

All in all, there is no reason why scheduling interviews should be done on RP's kitchen table over a period of 2-3 weeks, when at the press of a button all the scheduling could be done almost instantly and everyone receive an automatic e-mail.

Anonymous said...

All in all, there is no reason why scheduling interviews should be done on RP's kitchen table over a period of 2-3 weeks

As I explained above, I think that the point of not moving to a different system is that it would eliminate jobs, and nobody wants to do that.

And before you get indignant, exactly the same logic ("the Internet can do it better") is coming for your job next.

Anonymous said...

And before you get indignant, exactly the same logic ("the Internet can do it better") is coming for your job next.

I can do my job better with the internet, provided I take advantage of it. The APA placement service could do the same, and stay employed at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I can do my job better with the internet, provided I take advantage of it.

Sure, but my point is that the Internet means that eventually we will only need one person in the world to record lectures, which students will watch on-line, outside a classroom. That's what I mean by "the Internet is coming for your job."

Unless you're the one person recording the lectures, that is.

Anonymous said...

Sure, but my point is that the Internet means that eventually we will only need one person in the world to record lectures, which students will watch on-line, outside a classroom. That's what I mean by "the Internet is coming for your job.".

Even if that’s true, you’re still not out of a job, unless you only know how to lecture. The get-students-in-a-room-and-listen-to-a-prof-talk model of education made sense when books didn't exist, or when they were very expensive. Now books are relatively cheaper than a 10th c. codex, but the educational model hasn’t changed. That's because colleges don't just impart knowledge to students but especially some kind of social prestige that comes with going to a glorified summer camp and getting a degree at the end. It's not guaranteed that the educational model will survive the advent of online lectures, but I'm betting that it will. People may or may not lecture to a room full of sleeping students anymore, but there will still be jobs for teachers to help students toward that diploma.

Anonymous said...

People may or may not lecture to a room full of sleeping students anymore, but there will still be jobs for teachers to help students toward that diploma.

I hope so, too. But everything that can be done on-line and on a vast scale will be done on-line and on a vast scale, which in itself means substantially fewer jobs. And when you don't have faculty justifying their smaller humanities courses by teaching large lecture courses, how much interest do you think universities will have in keeping on faculty to teach only a bunch of small, face-to-face courses?

I have no doubt that the central prestige element of undergraduate education will perpetuate the current model in some places, but I think there are good reasons to expect that this experience might become one restricted to a much narrower set of institutions. Harvard and Yale will continue to socialize and connect the social elite, but it's not clear to me that state institutions or the middle class will continue to be able to afford that ever more expensive experience.

The logic of technologization is the same as the one that has decimated American manufacturing jobs (though not manufacturing: machines do it!), American agricultural jobs (though not agriculture: machines do it!), and print media jobs (advertise your old couch for free on craigslist!).

Anonymous said...

Online courses are a joke.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/us/05college.html?scp=1&sq=online%20courses&st=cse.

Anonymous said...

Online courses are a joke.

Online courses are the future.

Ergo, the future is a joke.

It's not actually clear to me from that article, though, that an on-line class is a much worse educational experience than a 250 person lecture hall with no discussion sections, and there are plenty of those.

In other words, the present is kind of a joke too.

Anonymous said...

The present trajectory (and hence the future) of classics is a joke. So why does humanity need another translation of the Aeneid or need to know the etymological vagaries of Homeric pigherding? For you aspiring archaeologists out there, go do some real fieldwork and involve students, regardless of the fact that it's almost not expected of a "classical archaeologist." This can't be replaced by a videoclip and is one of the few places that classics is producing truly new scholarship (the type that the public and admins can appreciate). For you historians, do the same thing - research ethnohistory and other sociological/anthropological/linguistic synergies. Yeah, classics thinks that comp lit/art history classicists are all that, but no one else really does. They are dying as fast as classics. Maybe classics will have a fighting chance then. Admins are increasingly judging the value of departments by their collaborations with other disciplines; it's obvious that classics' conservative status quo is not cutting it. Saying, "Look we have some women and gay men in our department now!" is not that impressive anymore.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. "Etymological vagaries" will be the death of us all; the way to salvation is to be found in "linguistic synergies."

Most of you probably didn't even realize that, did you?

Typical.

Anonymous said...

Whatever we do, we better make it quick as deans aren't rushing to replace retirees, let alone expanding programs.

Anonymous said...

What's happening has to be viewed in the context of the general crisis in support for the humanities. This crisis is rooted in two things: 1). humanities research cannot attract substantial federal or foundation support or enter into "partnerships" with industry and 2). a degree in the humanities is not regarded by legislators, taxpayers, parents, or students as providing a reliable avenue to a good job, and administrations know this.

Changes in research direction, in kinds of hires, in kinds of courses offered, or in general awesomeness aren't going to do anything to alter that overall environment. Classics isn't fundamentally in trouble because of faults specific to it; it's in trouble because it's a humanities discipline.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the humanities... always in a state of crisis.

https://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/2010/11/the_crisis_in_the_humanities.html

Anonymous said...

The humanities crisis is a part of the problem, but we also need to adapt with the changing world (if it's even possible). Look at History program. They no longer have the majority of their faculty studying Europe and the Americas. They've branched off to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, etc. and have stayed relevant despite its humanities label. Art History is the same way. They're scrambling to find people who specialize in African, Asian, and even Islamic art. It's almost impossible to get a job in Renaissance and Classical art. How can Classics adapt? We've made headway by studying how the classical world dealt with slavery, gender, sexuality, trade, etc. and what it teaches us about today's world, but we're still largely perceived as being an insular discipline that's increasingly irrelevant. Are we doomed? I don't know. Maybe some senior scholars and/or those who have a outside view could provide a better assessment.

Anonymous said...

Look at History program. They no longer have the majority of their faculty studying Europe and the Americas. They've branched off to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, etc. and have stayed relevant despite its humanities label. Art History is the same way. They're scrambling to find people who specialize in African, Asian, and even Islamic art.

History and Art History are facing comparable cuts, whether or not they're "relevant."

And much as I think it would be nice to say we're opening Classics' field of inquiry to "ancient Greek in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica" and "the Muslim experience in Republican Rome," I think we may face some challenges there in terms of finding evidence. Classics has been doing a pretty good job of opening up geographically and in terms of continuities with contiguous societies and earlier and later periods, but this can only be pressed so far. As you know, it all happened a long time ago, in a relatively small part of the globe.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the humanities... always in a state of crisis.

If you think that post was comforting, you didn't read it. Its burden is that the humanities will survive (hence, no crisis!) but that there should be fewer positions, that a lot of graduate programs need to shut down, and that humanities faculty should stop doing research and teach classes instead.

I pass no judgment on that value of that assessment, but I don't think it's what many of the readers of this blog would regard as a refutation of the notion that some serious shit is going down. Instead, it's like saying that we shouldn't really be worried about a nuclear war, because the rats and cockroaches will survive and will probably evolve to a point at which they can rebuild civilization again after a few million years.

Anonymous said...

A defense of the humanities (and other things) AND its fun to watch too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Anonymous said...

"History and Art History are facing comparable cuts, whether or not they're "relevant."

This is nonsense. Maybe in shear numbers, but history departments are usually 4-5 times the size of classics departments. History deparments aren't getting dissolved. History departments aren't getting combined into some Frankenstein German-Jewish Studies-Latin-Greek-Toaster Ovens Department (GJSLGTO Department for those keeping track). Yes Classics is limited in geographic scope, but it can easily cover thousands of years. Even if one dismisses "prehistory" one can easily move into Late Antiquity and even the Byzantines, which would then provide points of convergence with many more disicplines and areas of study. So this notion of "Classics has been doing a pretty good job of opening up geographically and in terms of continuities with contiguous societies and earlier and later periods, but this can only be pressed so far. As you know, it all happened a long time ago, in a relatively small part of the globe." is largely self-inflicted and pure bullshit. How many of you have a Late Antique specialist in your department? I thought so.

Anonymous said...

I would ask whether the powers that be in the APA discuss these matters and DO somethiing about it, i.e. strategize, but I think I've got my answer judging by how the Placement Service is organized and run.

Anonymous said...

This is nonsense. Maybe in shear numbers, but history departments are usually 4-5 times the size of classics departments. History deparments aren't getting dissolved. History departments aren't getting combined into some Frankenstein German-Jewish Studies-Latin-Greek-Toaster Ovens Department...

Of course they aren't. You start by combining smaller departments. But History departments are seeing lines not replaced, faculties shrink, and hard times on the job market in the same way that Classics is.

Even if one dismisses "prehistory" one can easily move into Late Antiquity and even the Byzantines, which would then provide points of convergence with many more disicplines and areas of study.

This is great, and is what exactly what I meant by Classics "opening up geographically and in terms of continuities with contiguous societies and earlier and later periods." But it is just never going to be possible for Classics to have the sort of range a history department or an art history department can.

I would ask whether the powers that be in the APA discuss these matters and DO somethiing about it, i.e. strategize

"Strategizing" seems pretty different from "doing something" to me. But beyond that, I think that supposing the APA can do anything effective about this is to mistake the depth and power of the forces that are affecting the humanities.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The same debate as always but conducted in slightly fancier language and with less name-calling. And people say there's no progress in Classics...

The animation was pretty cool though - thanks to whoever posted that.

Anonymous said...

Wow... fancier language.

Thanks! I think you're neat, too.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, classics as it's presently construed is a dying field. Anyone who encourages their students to continue on to grad school should get their head examined.

Anonymous said...

Whatever, I'll pass on getting my head examined.

I remember a junior faculty member in college warning us classics majors, "Don't do it...no jobs...dying field...forget it...don't do it...you're nuts..."

That was in 1985.

That person didn't get tenure and left the field. I went on to a PhD and tenure.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. The "dying field" anthem has been around for a long, long time. Fact is things haven't changed. The market is based on a mix of luck and, frankly, willingness to relocate and end up who knows where for a tenure-track job in the field. This year so far is really no better or worse...it's average.

Anonymous said...

That person didn't get tenure and left the field. I went on to a PhD and tenure.

Feel the awesome probative power of the anonymous personal anecdote.

Look, it's a crapshoot. There are just far more people seeking positions than there are positions. Any student I send on to grad school, if they make it through, could well end up as one of those seekers without a position. I'll still write letters for undergrads if they're bound and determined, but not before I've explained that there quite possibly will not be an academic job waiting for them at the end.

This year so far is really no better or worse...it's average.

No, it is objectively poor, because of the recent recession and non-recovery. The question is what things will look like after the recovery, whenever that comes.

Anonymous said...

I love the optimism on here. Thanks to opportunistic administrators, humanities will come back pruned at most schools when the economy rebounds. I also agree with all the previous posters; humanities is all in the same boat, but it's a big boat and classics is in the boiler room while others are in first class. Guess who makes it to the life boats when the torpedoes are launched by the deans?

Anonymous said...

The "dying field" anthem has been around for a long, long time. Fact is things haven't changed.

Just because it's been played for a while doesn't mean it's untrue. That's why it's a "dying" field and not a "dead" field, right? You can use this as an example next time you're going through H&Q with your students.

To say that nothing has changed is silly and to present it as "fact" is ridiculous. Almost every department I'm familiar with is smaller than 20 years ago and in most cases significantly smaller than 30 years ago (if the department is still around). Being down two or three faculty members might not seem like a big deal to most disciplines, but it is when the average classics department is less than five.

I didn't know about the 2050 minority thing, but I suppose it makes sense with all the immigration from Latin America and Southeast Asia. To say that it won't affect classics or it's irrelevant since we'll all be dead reflects poorly on those who made these trite statements. I hope my department can weed you guys out in San Antonio.

Anonymous said...

That 2050 minority thing: before (or after) freaking out we must think about it in practical terms. Who studies Classics now? Mostly students of European descent. Why? Because Classics is still an elite pursuit (it's Classics!) and the American elite is still mostly of European descent. And because of a number of things, notably racial identification and cultural laziness, Classics are more readily sought by non-elite students of European descent than others, and some of these others can even at times be hostile to Classical Studies.

Now, Classics can do one of two things to survive. Be more appealing and relevant to a broader section of the student body, whatever its origins. Or re-brand itself as an elite pursuit attractive to non-males (almost there) non-whites (not there at all). I bet we will go through door number 2, if only because departments at rich universities will more easily survive and the present crisis, and they will know who their potential students are going to be: still students of European descent, and in time more students of Latin American and Asian descent whose families made it up the social ladder.

Anonymous said...

So the survival of classics is dependent on us remaining as elitist as possible? Isn't this the basic tenet of the polarizing WKH?

If this is our plan of survival as wealth shifts East, we truly are screwed.

Chicken Little is overrated said...

The 2050 thing is an irrelevant stat. Look at California. I belive residents of European descent have been the minority for years now. The social elite there (i.e. Silicon Valley and Malibu set) have been ethnicaly diverse for years now as well. I don't see the sky falling for Classics there. They actually seem to be doing quite well with faculty and majors who are almost exclusively of European descent. Much ado about nothing.

Anonymous said...

majors who are almost exclusively of European descent

At least at my California school, our language classes, our civ classes, and our list of majors always have lots of Asian and Latino students. I can't speak to what's going on elsewhere, though.

I'm not saying you couldn't actively drive non-white people away if you really put your mind to it, but that it's not self-evident why Greco-Roman antiquity should only be of interest to white folks—it's definitely not self-evident to our students, at any rate.

Classics in fact has a very, very long history of being interesting to people whose forebears were never part or only marginally part of the Greco-Roman world; I don't see why it'd change now.

Anonymous said...

One way I know the market is just fine is the number of people I see who have managed to get tenure in recent years at reasonably decent places/mid-range places where it's like, umm, how?

Anonymous said...

Way back in 1985 that guy quit the field and as likely as not he is now relatively successful and regrets nothing. You are tenured yet still trolling job blogs in your middle age. Nice.

Anonymous said...

One way I know the market is just fine is the number of people I see who have managed to get tenure in recent years at reasonably decent places/mid-range places where it's like, umm, how?

It doesn't really work like that. You'd be slightly better off judging the job market 5-7 years ago by who gets tenure today. But that wouldn't be very accurate either. The award of tenure is pretty different from hiring decisions, and is much more about crossing more-or-less explicit hurdles than about competing against a field.

Anonymous said...

it's not self-evident why Greco-Roman antiquity should only be of interest to white folks

Because to most non-classicists - black, white, whatever - classics is oddly specific and narrow. They think that too many resources are already devoted to it. This is why formerly separate/independent Greco-Roman galleries in major museums are being combined with larger European siblings. This isn't unique to classics. Egyptian galleries are getting combined with African ones and Near Eastern galleries with Asian ones. But the latter are relatively rare compared to classics departments/galleries.

This trend is partially financial, but also ideological. People gravitate towards concepts they can relate to. People are growing up with less exposure to classics. I was somewhat surprised when I started teaching ten years ago to find that the vast majority of my non-majors had never read Homer before college. Yes, you'll get a sympathetic dean here and there who was exposed to classics, but I think this is a numbers game increasingly not in our favor.

So you really think that the average Latino student will take Greek 101 or the life of the emperors before taking a course relating to Latino Studies or Latin America? How about the Asian student? I would venture to guess tha the average Asian would take Chinese archaeology before Roman. Sure at CA schools you'll have a good number of Latino and Asian students in classics classes, but you better when they make up 80% of the student body. I'm obviously less confident than many of you that arete will save classics in the coming decades.

Anonymous said...

If there are dying classics programs, put some of the blame on the suicidal types in English depts. in particular who were afflicted with self-loathing and helped destroy core curricula in so many colleges...sometimes with classics allies.

Anonymous said...

All humanities departments are being hit, but not in the same way. History departments, it is true, are losing lines and some fields are being merged: for example the increasingly common, but in many ways nonsensical, "Ancient/Medieval" historian. But we in ancient studies should at least be happy we're not in British history, a field that is slowly being killed off completely.

Fact is, the vast majority of places do not need 2 people to do Latin poetry, 2 people to do Greek poetry and then 2 to do Latin prose and 2 to do Greek prose, with maybe a token material culture person and/or a historian to round out a Classics department. That's how it used to be, back when the "classics" were central to the curriculum.

But then, as someone already noted, classics is no longer central to the curriculum.

Except for the Ivy elite, and a few other elite private institutions and a few state flagship universities (though don't count on all of them) that will retain separate Classics departments, the future for everyone else is going to be elsewhere. Historians, you'd better brush up on your knowledge of medieval and modern European history, as you'll be teaching Western Civ. Archaeologists will be happy to be in Anthropology departments.

As for the classicists, well, it'd be a good idea to develop a range of courses of classics in translation when you teach in the Dept of Languages We Haven't Dropped Yet. Three person departments are not likely to continue to survive outside of the elite SLACs, and there are only so many of them.

I don't think there is going to be a major bounce back after the Great Recession. Sure, there will be hiring and there will be jobs, but places that are cutting off classics, like SUNY Albany, are not likely to bring them back. The biggest problem is massive overproduction, but try telling that to anyone who teaches at the major grad programs in our field. You'll get a glare back at you as if you had just insulted the person's mother.

Broadening our perspective is good, but the deans and provosts will say "Then why not merge with Dept X, so you can share resources and collaborate?" Going the elite route will be the death of Classics outside of the elite schools. Pointing out how special classics is at the Ivies and such will keep the classics in its current splendid isolation, but will kill it at the lower tiers. When I got my present job, I had to argue very strongly just to convince the dean and the VPAA that they should hire someone at all to teach ancient stuff.

"What do our kids need this for?"

Really. Sure, it's just a personal anecdote, take that for what it's worth, but I would be very surprised if this attitude is not widely prevalent among administrators at second and third tier institutions, where, by the way folks on the market, the vast majority of jobs still are.

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