Monday, September 15, 2014

Sandbaggers and Scufflers

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

731 comments:

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Cato said...

New Ph.D. program in Classics at Washington University in St. Louis!

WTFUSTL???!!!

Who thought this was a good idea?

Anonymous said...

Update to the wiki: I've updated the current jobs, but I've also made a bigger change, sorting them by "Tenure-Track", "Temporary", and "Senior".

Anonymous said...

Like the sort (although some jobs are in an incorrect area). Dislike the quotation marks. They aren't necessary and distract the eye.

Anonymous said...

UK and New Zealand "Lecturer" are broadly equivalent to US "Tenure Track", if that's what you mean.

Otherwise, open rank TT positions are in the Tenure Track category and not in the Senior category just to avoid posting the same job twice.

If I've miscategorized anything beyond these, then please resort as appropriate. Glad you like the new formatting.

Anonymous said...

@ Cato Sept 15 3:05 pm

What's better on the market than a fresh PhD from a relatively unknown program taught and mentored by faculty inexperienced in the current graduate process in an over-saturated and contracting market? I think they've hit on gold.

Anonymous said...

I think they're trying to become the UChicago of the MIdwest.




Hey, wait a second...

Anonymous said...

I added a demographics section to get a better sense of the numbers of people in different positions: eg abd, adjuncting, etc.

Anonymous said...

@ Sept. 16 2:06 am

Great idea!

Anonymous said...

Jokes aside, Washington St. Louis's decision to initiate a Classics PhD program is not only disturbing but deeply unethical. Just look at the wiki's job listings so far this year. Nearly half of the ads are for contingent or senior positions. If I were on the market this year -- which, happily, I am not because I left ! -- there'd be one job so far I'd have a "reasonable" shot at given my specialties.

When I think about all the people I know who've been on or are still on the market treadmill -- as well as those I know who won the chance of getting tenure in an increasingly unrealistic and inhumane system-- I find myself angry on behalf of the students who will be admitted to this program.

The faculty and administrators at Washington U should be ashamed. I can only hope they tailor their curriculum so as to encourage students to explore how to apply their skills outside of academia (fat chance, right?!?). The students are going to need it.

Anonymous said...

It is really completely shameless.

Anonymous said...

Like the scare quotes highlighting supposed preferences. Might be interesting to compare stated preferences to final decisions.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit.

Creating a PhD program in this climate isn't just shameless, it's actually evil.

Anonymous said...

I think the admin at Wash U must have pressured the department to start a PhD program. That joke about this place trying to be the U Chicago of the Midwest is spot on. This is all about prestige for the U, not the best thing for the dept or its students. It is a shame because the MA program was exactly what the dept can best support, and what the field needs. But please, don't blame the faculty. They are just making the best of a bad situation.

Anonymous said...

The Mud Rack Troll is early this year.

Anonymous said...

So where is everyone this year?

Anonymous said...

Lying somewhere in the fetal position?

Anonymous said...

I see where people are coming from by complaining about there being a new PhD program, but suggest that we think of it another way. Say you're from the Midwest and want to get a PhD in Classics, so of course you apply to all of the top programs (including Chicago and Michigan) and some of the next tier (including Ohio State and Cincinnati), but you need a "safety" or two, or you plan to go into high school teaching and want a PhD as a resumé enhancer and being close to home is more important than the program. Here are your options in the Midwest, generously defined: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin. Now, some of those are so obscure I didn't even know about them until checking the APA's list (http://apaclassics.org/education/list-of-graduate-programs-classics), and certainly wouldn't do. In fact, only two of those programs are even worth a damn. Washington University in St. Louis instantly is better than most if not all based of those on the faculty, and the fact that most are active in the field and have definite research agendas, which are both crucial to a good PhD program. It is also a place with money, and certainly can afford to improve its library holdings if they are not already more than sufficient. (Not that a good -- or spectacular -- classics library means a good PhD program, as Illinois consistently shows.) So perhaps the new PhD program in St. Louis will draw off enough good candidates that eventually some of the other programs will be forced to improve or close down their PhD program. After all, if fewer PhD students are showing up and even fewer are getting placed, it's hard to hide that from administrators. So, I say, the new program at Washington University isn't necessarily the worst thing, that I agree that it was not the brightest idea I've heard this week.

Anonymous said...

3:01, in neither of the hypothetical scenarios you come up with should that person be pursuing a PhD at all.

As to where everyone is, I can only hope that many of us have gotten a lick of sense and left the field.

Anonymous said...


I agree that there needs to be much more honesty about the likelihood of gainful employment at the end of a phd in classics (or most of the other humanities).

But I can't agree or understand the position that people shouldn't pursue a PhD or that only a few select places should have PhD programs.

We should come to terms with the fact that the connection between a PhD in classics and a career is like the connection between art school and a career. The overwhelming majority of people who go to music or dance or film school do not end up with dreamy, national market careers at the end of their studies. They end up teaching these subjects to high school or middle school or elementary school students; they may have a gig or two with a local non-profit here and there. In very successful cases, they do end up as musicians or filmmakers, but it's very different music and film than they one they studied in school (think of your friend who studied classical music composition and is now composing for local mattress stores commercials). In many, many, cases, they simply don't end up doing anything that has to do with their schooling. But they go, even if its expensive post-collegiate education, because they like it.

The same holds for the classics PhD. Only those who are very lucky in some way or another, and/or very talented in some way or another, will get a tenured job in a school that supports the kind of research they've been trained to do; others will get other kinds of stable jobs in teaching; still others may do some adjunct work, or teach high school, or work with language in a different way (say, as editors). And many, many will either not succeed in finding a job that has to do with their PhD or alternatively will decide that the kinds of sacrifice such a job requires – lower pay, geographical relocation, etc. – simply doesn't justify it, and will move on to other careers (law, ibanking, software...).

There are many many music schools and film programs in the country, and no one finds them deceptive, even though the chances that you will get, say, a permanent job as a violinist in a mid-sized symphony orchestra is very slim. The same should be with classics programs: they are there for those who want to obtain a PhD in classics, not for those who want a tenured job in the field.

In fact, classics in this way is actually in better shape than the arts – since our PhDs can usually fund their way through the degree at least partially.






Anonymous said...

It's a nice try, and by all means believe whatever you need to sleep at night, but the reality is that the risks of pursuing an arts career are generally understood in our culture, whereas those of an academic one are not. And Classicists whose own careers depend on adequate enrollments have little incentive to confront their idealistic students with harsh realities.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you don't see a lot of people getting PhDs in musicology because it's a nice hobby or to teach elementary school music class.

Anonymous said...

To the person making the point about music/arts/etc.:

Ignore these negative comments. You made an excellent point (or collection of points), and one not previously made on Famae Volent -- which is no small accomplishment, since this particular topic has been discussed ad nauseam.

The key thing is for people going into a PhD program to know what might happen at the other end. But there's no reason for people whose eyes are open to the risks to pursue a PhD.

Anonymous said...

"But there's no reason for people whose eyes are open to the risks to pursue a PhD."

Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Nice.

Anonymous said...

As someone who recently left the field, allow me to say that the world of employment outside of Classics is so much better that it's just ridiculous. My work environment is much less dysfunctional, I get septuple the pay, and I can relax at the end of the day.

You, reader, are fucking brilliant, or you wouldn't have made it this far. Do something for which there is the tiniest bit of demand and you will see that you can be a rock star instead of a suppliant.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2:17 - if it doesn't give away too much, I would be interested to know what work you moved into.

Fallen Classicist said...

2:17's statement is not quite in line with my experience.

Things can be better, and considerably so, outside classics. But I doubt whether the path from classics to riches and leisure is so direct.

I found some skepticism on the part of potential employers about intentions and motivations to leave the academy. But that was several years ago. Perhaps things have changed.

Anonymous said...

As for the comparison between Classics and Music/Arts/etc., I'll just leave this here:

http://chronicle.com/article/Art-Schools-Work-to-Erase/148917/

Anonymous said...

"But there's no reason for people whose eyes are open to the risks to pursue a PhD."

Because spending five to seven years of one's life studying ancient languages, literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, etc. is only worthwhile if you're guaranteed to get to spend the rest of your life doing it?

The frequency of the sour grapes phenomenon here is nauseating. Gripe all you want about the deplorable state of the field, of the humanities, of higher education, of the world; but if you went to graduate school without the thought that you would be content to have done so even if you were forced to move on from academia at the end, then you shouldn't have gone in the first place, and if you went in with that thought but came out without it, then either you did something wrong or you went to a bad program. We are among the most privileged people ever to have lived; quit acting as though we're being denied something we're entitled to.

Anonymous said...

Hey, fuck you, Mr. or Ms. Sanctimony!

Anonymous said...

"Yes, this is the thread where everyone comes to bitch, moan, and let off some steam." You're probably spending your time on the wrong website if you think that the fact that "we are among the most privileged people ever to have lived" means that we aren't allowed to be upset at the prospect of seven years down the drain, and no obvious alternative career. What does that even mean? If I acknowledge that I'm grateful to live in the era of fluoride and vaccines I'm not allowed to want secure employment, too?

Anonymous said...

By this logic, no one should ever be allowed to complain unless they're dead, because a live dog is always better than a dead lion.

I submit that Sanctimonious Asshole just resents being confronted with the harsh reality; after all, fiction is the sole refuge of the professional Classicist.

Don't worry, Asshole. Just eat some more lotus to lose any inconvenient perspective you may have chanced upon here.

Cato said...

Shorter Anonymous 1:24 (aka Sanctimonious Asshole):

"You saved up your pennies to buy a bike with the idea that you might be able to actually ride that bike somewhere?! You foolish, privileged ingrate!"

Anonymous said...

Hell, if I had saved up the money for a bike and then couldn't ride it I could at least sell that fucker at a loss.

I couldn't *pay* someone to take this useless fucking PhD off my hands.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the original source for the Queensborough ancient history job listed on the wiki as tenure-track? The only reference I've found to this search from Queensborough refers to it as a lecturer (teaching classes in "American History, Ancient History and/or Medieval/Early Modern History").

Anonymous said...

Ancient History Position -- CUNY Queensbourough Community College

http://www.higheredjobs.com/search/details.cfm?JobCode=175957490&Title=Instructor%20or%20Assistant%20Professor%20%2D%20History

Anonymous said...

There are two positions at CUNY.

One is the lecturer position (American, Ancient, Medieval/Early Modern History). You can find the description for this one in the CUNY database under id# 11200.

The second is an assistant professor OR instructor position in ancient history, with a preference for Roman History. The reference number for that job is 11464.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anon 2:17 on life after Classics. It took 12 days to find a job after I decided adjuncting was not for me. It was not at all hard to explain to my prospective employer why I was giving up 18K a year with no benefits and no job security. There is hope outside of academia.

Anonymous said...

Outside of academia is in fact the *only* place where there is hope.

I feel sorry for my peers who got tenure track jobs, because what that almost certainly means, given the world we live in, is that they are going to have put more time into Classics and be older and less marketable when the hammer finally drops on them too (tenure denial, department shut down, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Well this is depressing...but not at all surprising.

Anonymous said...

No shit, it is really late to have this few jobs posted, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

September 2013 saw 36 jobs posted in total (excluding that absurd private tutoring position). This September, 22 (by my quick count). In absolute terms, a bit of a shocking decline. Maybe search committees are changing their timelines and we'll see a bumper crop of jobs posted on October 15th, but if not, this is close to the year-on-year drop in the wake of the financial crisis...

Anonymous said...

Oh god.

Anonymous said...

yet humanities programs writ large continue to crank out qualified, compelling, talented PhDs - only to have them crash on the rocks of post-grad school realities. time for some reasonable reforms. don't set more of these people up for that crash - b/c it isn't pretty.

Anonymous said...

I think reform starts from within the discipline. I see too much angst directed towards external factors such as administrators. Not that we're getting good hands dealt by them, but there's much less we can control there, especially when our own house is in such myopic disarray.

What's more disconcerting to me is that the vast majority of our leaders don't believe that our house has been spiraling down the toilet of irrelevance for at least a generation, not just a decade. Excuse the sports analogy, but we act like we've just fallen out of favor like Michigan football when we're in fact Chicago pretending to be Monsters of the Midway. Pathetic, really.

Administrators must feel compelled to maintain if not grow Classics. We're instead relying on tradition, good will, and warm fuzzies, which is obviously a recipe for disaster. Chairs are now staring at the stark reality that an improved economy will not result in the approval of the same tired tenure track requests by Classics.

Anonymous said...

@2:30 PM:

Do you have a program/programs in mind that are pursuing some successful initiatives, or is this something only you have figured out?

Anonymous said...

Cont'd: I ask because, unlike the R-1 faculty who seem to be your point of reference, your local Classics department chair is probably fighting battles right now like continuing to offer Greek--at all; or remaining an independent department rather than joining 'World Languages'. If you have an idea to increase both enrollments *and* the number of undergrad majors, you should let us know!

Anonymous said...

I'm not 2:30, but I think the answer is that, as you imply, there is no magic solution. We can teach well, but Classics exists inside a cultural whole that is largely outside of our control. But the R1s have a particular responsibility here, because they are overproducing PhDs. My (admittedly somewhat defeatist) suggestion is that the faculty at R1s have to cut back the numbers of students they are training, dramatically, and live with teaching their own myth sections. That would make the world a little fairer, anyway.

Anonymous said...

(Me @ 5:57PM again): Absolutely, 1:43AM. Couldn't agree more! Overproduction is a huge problem, and something that R-1 profs ("our leaders", heh) need to rethink.

I found myself musing on the can this morning about how many newly minted PhDs today's market actually *could* absorb successfully. If every PhD program in the country mints no more than 1 new Doctor per year, that's still ~22 new bodies on the market--obviously too high imho.

My own pessimistic view is that the market could probably handle no more than 5 new PhDs/year without continuing to add to the crazy backlog that exists right now. So, in addition to teaching their own myth sections (preach!), many depts. are gonna have to get rid of *all* their grad students (and, as a consequence, sacrifice some tenure lines when the time comes), thus adding to the momentum of this death spiral!

Anonymous said...

Re: the earlier comparison of this year to last year, a quick look at the wiki showed 55 positions on Sept. 30 2013 and 59 positions on Sept. 29 2014. I didn't compare T-T, visiting, and senior positions, but by my count things are no worse now than they were last year.

Of course, that doesn't mean they're any good.

If I've made some sort of error, correction would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

@7:10 PM: Ah, my numbers came from comparing the Placement service e-mail from Sept. 2013 with the one from Sept. 2014. But your method is better. Hope?

Anonymous said...

Ah, numbers, so comforting and so scary.

Anonymous said...

Fucking numbers, how do they work?

Anonymous said...

Overproduction is not the root of the problem but the unfortunate consequence of the myopia mentioned earlier by someone else. Some of the solutions are staring at us in the face but very few have bridged the gap successfully.

Whether we dismiss them as fads or not, the fact remains that deans consider trends when approving lines. We see things like digital humanities, gender studies, etc. come along but we rarely manage to stick the landing during implementation from what I've observed. The usual pattern consists of impassioned pleas and pyrotechnics by classicists that we invented or have a long tradition of intersecting with said trend. It's enough to get a dean's attention at first but when it comes to implementation, we fall flat on our faces after it becomes obvious that we have no real means to interact meaningfully with the trend (or worse yet we're successful and use it a Trojan Horse to turn around and fill an old traditional line - deans love this).

I see very few classics programs training students to work where the most interesting work is and could be done. Why? Because we fear they won't get jobs! So we hire the same people to train the same clones and wonder why we're stuck in neutral. Rinse and repeat. When someone comes along that could truly change the game for us (rare since they don't usually make it through), they're not recognized by the classics establishment and fall through the cracks, reinforcing the old paradigm of hiring and training for the past and not the present or future.

Most deans look at us like we're glorified language teachers fit more for secondary schools or community colleges. Can you blame them? Other than the reduced teaching load and financial resources, do most of us truly need to be at a university?

Anonymous said...

Good points but I would argue that we're not stuck in neutral. We're either rolling backwards or stuck in reverse! And yes, I am one of the many classicists with a "useless fucking PhD" due to the reasons you just described. Overeducated and overqualified for K-12 but of little interest to the academy.

Anonymous said...

Overproduction is the main problem, 2:50. The things you mention merely contribute.

Anonymous said...

I think his (or her) point, Sherlock, is that if we could keep the pie from shrinking so fast, overproduction would not be such a concern. We could argue that all disciplines are over producing, even the vaunted STEM disciplines. We just happen to be bringing a knife to a nuclear showdown and getting our antiquated asses handed to us by pretty much every other discipline.

Anonymous said...

There is no possible way we could ever keep the pie big enough for the ridiculous number of PhDs being produced. There aren't just a few more PhDs than jobs; there are many times more.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, has this ever not been the case?

Anonymous said...

Bingo. It will always be the case. I'm not trying to minimize the tough decisions and trauma many of you are facing. I know most of you are excellent and deserve jobs, but to think that the pie will ever be big enough for all PhDs is a farce. The fact is that there are plenty of PhDs who are marginal and made it through with grit, a bit of luck, and bad advise along the way. There are others who are brilliant but produced safe, traditional dissertations ("clones" mentioned earlier) that aren't doing much to "keep the pie from shrinking so fast." Will it change? I doubt it. I've seen little to suggest otherwise in the twenty years I've been out.

Anonymous said...

Well, I, for one, am happy to admit to being a "marginal" Ph.D. who "made it through with grit, a bit of luck, and bad advise along the way." It's not totally hopeless out there, even for us less worthy types. Sometimes it helps to be a tolerable human being in all the cesspool - if you can avoid drinking so much of the stuff that you end up looking like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Explain to people in German or Slavic Studies how you plan to improve the standing of Classics in academia by embracing digital humanities and I think you will get some colorful responses.

Anonymous said...

If the presentations at the last APA meeting are any indication Digital Humanities (in classics) is Snake Oil.

Anonymous said...

I think someone already explained this but it was dismissed with a terse, clueless "Overproduction is the main problem, 2:50. The things you mention merely contribute."


"Whether we dismiss them as fads or not, the fact remains that deans consider trends when approving lines. We see things like digital humanities, gender studies, etc. come along but we rarely manage to stick the landing during implementation from what I've observed. The usual pattern consists of impassioned pleas and pyrotechnics by classicists that we invented or have a long tradition of intersecting with said trend. It's enough to get a dean's attention at first but when it comes to implementation, we fall flat on our faces after it becomes obvious that we have no real means to interact meaningfully with the trend (or worse yet we're successful and use it a Trojan Horse to turn around and fill an old traditional line - deans love this)."

Anonymous said...

Hah!

Anonymous said...

If you actually have the skills to be a digital Classicist, you can have a much more interesting and remunerative career by dropping the Classics part entirely.

Anonymous said...

Well, at the risk of insulting myself and all classicists, I would say this has been happening with pronounced acuity in classics for some time (while happening in all disciplines to a certain extent). There has to be counterincentives to stay the course but these incentives have been eroding for some time. If we're getting forced into a corporate environment with disproportionate marginalization of certain disciplines, why would the most accomplished and skilled with exit strategies available to them stick around? To get less pay? As I once overheard, academia has transformed from a plum job into a dumb job in a generation.

Anonymous said...

Alrighty then. Last person turn off the lights.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more poetic to leave one bare lightbulb (of Classics) swinging slowly from a cord in an empty, water-stained basement (of Academia) until it fizzles and goes dark--the lone, last classicist curled in a corner crying softly.

Anonymous said...

Well now you're just describing the current situation, 11:04.

Anonymous said...

Every year there is a small, loud and angry contingent on FV railing against evil, out of touch R1 faculty members. If only they had supported my digital humanities project (or whatever--before the archaeologists abandoned ship it was just archaeology in general that was supposed to save the field) employers would have been breaking down my door. Cargo cult thinking. The reality has always been that the difficulties faced by Classics are the same ones faced by all the other humanities and social sciences, and, increasingly, hard science fields as well. Example:

http://io9.com/meet-the-new-underclass-people-with-ph-d-s-in-science-1644006710

(And notice the clear references to overproduction in the linked piece.)

It's not that Classics doesn't need some kind of reform, and it certainly isn't that R1 faculty members aren't out of touch, self-absorbed a-holes. It's that if all that changed tomorrow, there *still* won't be any jobs. There aren't any winners here. This is really pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

10:42 times a million.

People who are implying that overproduction can somehow be made not a problem by any combination of other strategies either have no grasp of basic economics or are living in a fantasy world.

This isn't just a Classics problem; it's a Humanities problem, and to a lesser extent, a problem with higher education as a whole. The roots of the problem therefore do *not* lie in things specific to Classics.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the humanities in general have been screwed but don't be so quick to absolve the sabretooths who have been in charge. The number of senior classicists who can barely keep up with basic parts of the job description let alone simple tools necessary in today's academic environment is epidemic. Combine this with the fact that so many of them don't give a shit but happily keep cashin' dem six-figure salary checks to support esoteric hobbies and it explains why our shitstorm is particularly bad even by humanities standards.

Let's go back to the comment about archaeologists. Is that why you guys made those feeble attempts to hire token archaeologists who end up barely teaching in their speciality? Pathetic. Go large or go home. Wait, you guys do spend the majority of your week "working from home" when you're in fact taking orinthology or painting classes at the local rec center. Who needs a clean conscience when you can keep popping pills using prescription plans that you cannot recall doing without?

Anonymous said...

@11:44
Just who are you addressing here? The people who still read this (and I'm not convinced it's more than a round dozen, at most) are not the pill-popping, 6-figure earning, ornithological senior classicists. We may be pill-popping, those of us that have health insurance, but that's it. So really, don't lump us in as part of "you guys".

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Anonymous said...

I encourage everyone to read the advertisement for the postdoc at UNC Chapel Hill. Particularly the opening paragraph:

"As part of a continuing commitment to building a culturally diverse intellectual community and advancing scholars from underrepresented groups in higher education, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity is pleased to announce the availability of postdoctoral research appointments for a period of two years. The purpose of the Program is to develop scholars from underrepresented groups for possible tenure track appointments at the University of North Carolina and other research universities. Postdoctoral scholars will be engaged full-time in research and may teach only one course per fiscal year. Applications for study in any discipline represented at the University are welcome. The Department of Classics particularly seeks applications from candidates with a research and teaching focus in Greek poetry or Roman art and archaeology."

I am wrong in concluding that they could have summed this up as: "White males need not apply"?

Anonymous said...

I mean, the entire program under which that job is being offered is called "The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity (CPPFD)." It's not as if the Classics department is specifically seeking to make a hire in an underrepresented group--the university as a whole has funding for a few postdocs from these groups, and the placement service posting just represents the sort of candidate that the Classics department could use [i.e. one who is complementary to existing departmental strengths] from such a (university-wide) program.

Anonymous said...

And would it really be such a travesty if there was one job on the entire list for this year that aimed to address the imbalance in hiring in Classics?

A quick calculation shows that 58 men versus 39 women were hired into positions listed on the wiki last year (based on a cursory examination of names, and only the ones posted on the wiki. Previous years have too few names listed for accurate data). I don't know about your experience, but every grad program I'm familiar with has a roughly 50/50 balance of men and women graduating with the PhD (actually, I can think of a few that seem to lean heavily female). Within my own department, I can guarantee that there are at least as many women as men finishing the dissertation and going on the market. Does it seem at all acceptable to you that the proportion of people actually getting jobs is so skewed? I'm sure you've witnessed a similar imbalance in the gender ratio of faculty vs. students in your department or other departments with which you're familiar.

I'm not even going to touch race/ethnicity, because a) grad programs as a whole are heavily white, so the problem starts earlier than a post-doc could even begin to resolve and b) I'm not presumptuous enough to try to make guesses about race based on names posted on the wiki.

Anonymous said...

These direct or indirect insinuations of "reverse discrimination" is ridiculous. It's not as if this is even a TT job or guaranteed for a particular department. What these out-of-touch accusers can't begin to fathom is that society implicitly has "females need not apply" or "Latinos need not apply" sentiments ingrained throughout.

You generally also have to look and sound the part. Just as a black athlete will usually be favored just by looks, Classics has the unfortunate albatross of a virtually impregnable association with Anglo-Saxon/aristocratic ideals. You could be bug-eyed and unkempt like Mommsen and still have the way paved for you in gold, but you should definitely not act or look ethnic if you desire a level playing field. Is it a surprise that our American institutions are littered with Brits and their Commonwealth offspring?

So, yes, classics is fighting a zero sum game at best. Someone now turn off the lights.

Anonymous said...

The lights have been off this whole time. Why else would none of you have noticed my furious masturbation in the corner?

Anonymous said...

Hey, what's the deal with the BC tenure track post? They advertised back in 2011-2012 and the person who got the job left after only two years. There are no full professors; only a "research professor" whatever that is. Inquiring minds want to know!!

Anonymous said...

The Boston area attracts top talent for obvious reasons but it's littered with those who've been chewed up and spit out. Both BU archaeology and Tufts classics are in de facto receivership (outside chairs run them), which means that they're beyond dysfunctional. I know BU classics isn't much better and BC classics is somewhat infamous - more than one extremely promising scholar said no más/fuck it and left before tenure review.

Anonymous said...

wow! Thanks for that info.

Anonymous said...

I have no inside info on the UNC program, but my read (which seems to be confirmed by a quick look at the current fellows), is that it's a race/ethnicity thing, not gender.

That said, 9:53's point still stands. This is so NOT a problem in Classics.

Anonymous said...

BU Archaeology finds itself in a bad way - not a healthy program despite a number of very talented people.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Kendra Eshleman, chair of the BC Classics department. Thanks for noticing that we're searching for a TT Latinist! Generational retirements (and, yes, some pre-tenure departures) have left us with a relatively young department and multiple positions to fill; expect to see us hiring again in the next few years. We were already planning to search for a second TT Latinist this year when, to our chagrin, the great person we hired in 2011-12 was hired away. If you have other questions, feel free to write to me at the e-mail address in the ad.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to BC Classics. It might be trickling down from a higher level and largely out of the department's control, but it still makes me wonder why a top 50 research university in arguably the finest academic metro is having trouble retaining young scholars. Yes, all universities get poached and have members denied tenure, but it seems too common to be primarily by chance at BC.

Anonymous said...

Hired away? The last two holders fled for non-TT jobs at nearby universities. So they loved the area, but not enough to stick around whatever at BC.

There will be hundreds lined up to take the spot, but here's hoping that whatever is pungent enough to chase people away from a coveted job is nipped in the bud.

Anonymous said...

From my firsthand and up close observation of about a dozen classics departments over the years, a major problem is a small minority of dousche bag faculty members who drag the entire program down with them. They are so self absorbed and oblivious to the big picture that they truly don't know and/or care how destructive they are. I know they're a popular target on here but I would vouch for the vast majority of senior scholars. These malignant few are so malignant and nasty that deans either can't or won't slap them around even if they cared about the long term prospects of classics. I've been around the block enough at this point I suspect many deans appreciate the self destruction since it was their desire anyway to diminish or even shut down our programs. Will it get better with retirements? I hope so but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

@4:03

Amen. Tell it like it is.

Flippancy agreement aside, I think you've hit on an important part of the equation. My experiences with senior faculty are much the same. I have an on-going and burning hatred for a small few that could scarcely be quelled by watching them endure the torments of hell; for many others I feel ambivalence; and for a quite a few, genuine affection. The small few poison our perception of the many.

I'd go on at length, but really, isn't this tedious for all of us? Dwelling on the my nasty feelings toward nasty people (no matter how much they genuinely deserve them) buys me neither more nor better days. It must be the same for the rest of you.

Anonymous said...

It bought me an ice cream cone. Mmm, rocky road.

Anonymous said...

I had rocky road once as a small child in my grandparents' kitchen. I didn't like it.

Anonymous said...

Well then, give your childhood to me. You probably aren't using it.

Jacob Reed said...

Search here for jobs to make your life easy
Jobs

Anonymous said...

The spammers certainly seem active! I presume that everyone else is so depressed at the state of the market that no one has much to say?

Anonymous said...

Not a job market question or complaint, but I need help!

What happened to the 3D Ancient Rome in Google Earth? I was planning to send my students there to play around and it is gone. Is there another site that duplicates that experience, the images, ability to get a sense of the space? Any suggestions? I want them to get a sense of the growth of Rome, but especially the Republican monuments and the Augustan building program. Help! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping that the relative silence here is a sign that people are moving on to careers more conducive to good mental health.

Anonymous said...

I love Digital Augustan Rome. Enjoy!
digitalaugustanrome.org

Anonymous said...

I'm transitioning into a career as an automated spam bot.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity: my specialty has gotten hit really hard this year, with about half as many ads as last year. And it's not like last year was a winner! Is this happening across the field?

Anonymous said...

5:13 - I've been feeling the same way, though it's possible we're in the same specialty and seeing the same thing (I do Greek poetry). One thing I have noticed: there seem to be a lot fewer generalist jobs than in previous years, which, combined with what legitimately feels like fewer jobs in specialty, has kept my list of prospects shorter than it's ever been. In past years, I've had 15-20 reasonable prospects, between generalist and specialist jobs. This year, it's more like 10.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I may be missing something but I think the only specifically Greek prose job this year is Urbana-Champaign.

Anonymous said...

serious contraction in many areas. further signs of impending doom / disciplinary implosion. and to those undergraduates who want to go on to graduate study in classics?! just don't do it. seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm more curious about the overall count. Contraction in certain specialties might be a welcome sign of adaptation. We've been talking overproduction and I see the days when someone can be a narrowly focused Hellenist or Latinist while teaching only intermediate and advanced classes to be increasingly untenable. Before someone jumps in with an example from a mega language department, I'm in a medium sized department and all our tenured Latinists and Hellenists refuse to teach any "culture" courses and I know this isn't uncommon in self-standing classics departments of any size. The big sacrifice for these guys is teaching beginning Latin or Greek.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Look at how few Latin poetry jobs there are this year. If you wrote a dissertation on Ovid forget it.

But people who do material culture and can teach Greek or Roman history are going to be in very high demand.

Anonymous said...

Yet there might be as many Ovid scholars on the market as Roman archaeologists. It's time for us to do the math and reboot.

Anonymous said...

It's not that bad a year for Latin poetry.

Anonymous said...

Uh, right now the wiki lists exactly two jobs for Latin poetry, and both of those are specifically interested in drama. In other words, not Ovid.

Anonymous said...

Just say "No" to Naso!

Anonymous said...

The Tennessee job ad is ridiculous:

"The expertise sought is Greek poetry of the eighth through the fifth centuries bce, with a special emphasis in one or more of these areas: epic, lyric, and drama, and with a concomitant interest in pre-classical/classical history, culture, and material culture. An ability to integrate with the department’s strength in Aegean prehistoric archaeology is desirable."

Seriously? Greek poetry, history, material culture, and a connection to prehistoric archaeology? Were they high when they wrote this or do they just not know what they want?

Anonymous said...

Classics programs, especially those without PhD programs, are doing themselves and the profession no favors with these hyper specialized job ads. There was a real virtue and wisdom to the days of generalist appointments in undergraduate programs.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few jobs this year that ask you to have about four specialties. I guess because they actually need four people but don't have the money?

Anonymous said...

It's because they know that there are such a ridiculous number of applicants relative to positions that they could advertise for a magical unicorn that shits MacArthurs and farts paradigm-shifting books, and they would not only be able to hire said unicorn, but also pay it in table scraps.

Pegasus said...

Anonymous 11:23, FTW.

Anonymous said...

Given this market, I am really surprised that job ads still offer to pay candidates at all. I bet there are more qualified people out there who would do the job for free than there are jobs.

Anonymous said...

Man, this is sad. Upon reading the comment by Anonymous 10:30, my thought process went more or less like this:

"Work for free?! No way! I would nev—wait, if it was a really good department, the experience might help me get a better job next time, so...."

FML.

Anonymous said...

When I was still trying for one-year VAPs, I was effectively willing to take negative salary, since my spouse leaving her job to come with would be giving up more money than I would make.

Luckily I am not good enough to get a shitty one-year VAP, so I left the field for instant full prof money.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind, 11:07, can you tell us what kind of work you do now? Inquiring (and hopeful) minds would like to know...

Anonymous said...

fascinating that those with 'wonderful' jobs outside academia come here to brag, thus implicitly ridiculing those who continue to stick it out. pardon us, but don't you have a clock to punch?

The Braggart said...

The point isn't to brag. As I said, I couldn't even get a one-year VAP in Classics (and I tried really, really hard for several years). The point is that, if I can get a fulfilling job outside of Classics (no clock-punching involved), so can anyone else.

My post was meant as encouragement to those who, like me, cannot have a career in Classics however you slice it(and there will be many). The problem is with the market, not with them. Many other labor markets would value such people immensely; the particular one I chose (Software Engineering) is just one.

Love of the field is great, but I also know from personal experience that, if the field doesn't love you back, not moving on will only hurt you.

It was very, very difficult for me to move on, but it was by far the best decision I have made in years; I want others to be aware that it's a valid decision to make, and that there are really good options out there.

There's a lot of propaganda in academia about how bad the corporate world is, too (cf. your reference to clock-punching). Imagine my surprise when I realized that everything about my working conditions in the corporate world blew the socks off the academic one.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but remember that the easier it is for you to be replaced, the less incentive your employer has to treat you well. This basic truth means bad working conditions for Classicists just as it does for fast food employees, since how much training was involved to produce you is irrelevant unless it is difficult to find someone else with that same training.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone who has applied to the U. of Sciences job got a confirmation email their application was received?

Anonymous said...

Not cool, Anon. at 9:37 AM. We of all people should know better than to shame those who have found other paths. I'm grateful for the outside perspective; thanks, Braggart.

Anonymous said...

As am I! Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

at 11:37am
I received an automated message from the office of Human Resources at the University of the Sciences about a minute after I applied which confirmed that they had received my application. I have not heard anything since then.

Poseidonnon said...

When do we start hearing back about 1st rounds?

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't the Duke T-T job posted up until now? I added it, but seriously...

Anonymous said...

You could hear back at any point, but don't expect anything until December. Of course, if you're brave, the wiki will tell you if others get interview invites and you don't.

Anonymous said...

Nov. 6 at 10 pm, I'm talking to you:

Philologists/ancient historians I have personally known have left the field for these careers/jobs, tho some of these are still tangential to classics:

priesthood (left at ABD)
med school (PhD in hand)
public school teaching, at high school rank (PhD in hand)
private school teaching, high school rank (PhD in hand)
university administration (several people) (PhD in hand)
book publishing (PhD in one case; ABD in 2 others)
journalism (ABD in one case, PhD in hand in another)
software (game design) (1 left while taking grad classes; 1 had PhD in hand)
university-level librarian (PhD in hand)
writing screenplays (left while a prof)
nursing (ABD)
law (PhD in hand)

I have also heard of these, indirectly:

US State Dept. (PhD)
a job for the feds at the Pentagon -- some kind of hush-hush data analysis, Phd in hand
waiter at very high-end restaurant (ABD; person was a foodie)
museum curator (PhD in hand)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insights, 10:42!

Anonymous said...

november = longest month ever

Perdix said...

Re: U. Sciences T-T job, I had the same experience as 2:05PM; confirmation e-mail right after submission, but nothing since.

In response to 10:42 AM: it delights me that you know two people who left higher ed. to go into game design. That actually sounds cool enough to consider leaving for.

Tangentially related question: does anyone here know what became of Jamie Masters, he of Poetry and Civil War in Lucan's Bellum Ciuile fame?

Anonymous said...

While we aren't supposed to discuss people by name (may 7:07 read this before it gets zapped) what I heard -- and I stress heard -- was that he left Classics to play guitar in Greece, then made a few efforts to make a come back into classics. I suspect it would be pretty hard to come back from a break like that. I did also hear from a Welsh Latinist that he was lots of fun to drink with and has mad mad skills with the ladies.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading now through the marketing excerpt of his book online...good stuff!

Anonymous said...

2:26, there's also Adrian Goldsworthy, classics PhD now a historical novelist. That's a harder row to hoe than professor, but for those who have the skills, it can be a very worthwhile occupation.

I think there has been a similar list of non-professorial people with classics background posted sometimes at rogueclassicism.com if memory serves.

Fallen Classicist said...

For what it's worth, it does not strike me as inappropriate to discuss the careers of particular fallen classicists when they publicly present themselves as former classicists. Adrian Goldsworthy, for example, has a website that does just that. Many of us have such websites. If the website of a medical practice describes an internist as having earned a classics Ph.D. before medical school, I don't see any harm in comments here noting that Dr. X taught Latin once. Not all former classicists have thriving medical practices, and I would be less enthusiastic about more general "where are they now?" posts.

Anonymous said...

I think Goldsworthy is also an exception in that his career depends upon public awareness, both that he exists, and that he is "qualified" to write in his chosen area. So for him, a (polite) public discussion here plus acknowledgement of his undisputed credentials seems a different matter of business than slagging off some chair of a search committee who has in one's opinion misbehaved.

Anonymous said...

It's not entirely accurate to compare the UK and US PhD market, as some are doing by referring to UK former classicists. Because many (most) people finishing their PhDs in the UK are still in their mid-20s, it's less of a time investment. Very many PhD students in the UK do not plan to go on and have a view to going to work in the City, doing a law conversion course (only 1-2 years), or similar. Also, the academic career in the UK is much less appealing - very hard to progress beyond Senior Lecturer, and the money is quite poor.

Anonymous said...

We're not that far off from the UK scenario. I just found out that a recent double-major in classics and business is now working in our university's development office and makes more than our starting assistant professor.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to start comparing an Assistant Professor position to other kinds of jobs on the basis of salary, you're going to have a bad time. Virtually all people with an undergraduate degree make more than the average Assistant Professor in the humanities.

Perdix said...

Thanks, 7:22—definitely glad I read that in time, because it kind of made my night. :-D I had heard something of the sort but not quite so colorful. I really admire, er, THAT GUY's scholarship and always kind of admired his rumored insouciance as well. Maybe one day I'll get to shake his hand.

Anonymous said...

Well now I want to know about this insouciance. Always up for a good insouciance yarn, that's me. Alas! It is verboten.

Anonymous said...

A 100% irrelevant question, but one better asked anonymously than nonymously, and this is the only place for that sort of thing: since the 'L'Année Philologique' summary of an article I wrote was incompetently done, and shows that the person only read the final paragraph (and couldn't even summarize that properly), is there any point in drawing this to their attention? I realize that the print volume is not about to be redone, but it would be nice if the online version at least had something somewhat more accurate. (I'm not saying anything critical about APh in general, of course. Just this one summary.)

Anonymous said...

3:42am, I had the same experience with the L'Annee summary of one of my articles. You'd think they would ask the author to provide the summary instead of resorting to their own apparently dubious reading comprehension.

I left the field anyway and therefore didn't bother following up with them.

Anonymous said...

As one who continually revises cover letters until the last minute and uploads and re-uploads them to HR web interfaces, does anyone know whether these "draft" letters can be read by members of the committee? They are clearly stored on the system because I am allowed to revert to them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there are some exceptions but in nearly all cases system admins would be able to see such drafts but not low level users like committee members.

Chalcock FTW said...

Probably doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

I am curious about the following: how many pubblications does the 'average' candidate have now?

Anonymous said...

This is my fifth year on the market. I have four articles (respectable journals), one book chapter, three reviews, two papers at the APA, one edited volume under contract, and a book in late stages but not yet contracted. If I had to guess, most probably have 2-3 publications. FWIW, I was told last year that Classics isn't a meritocracy; hard work and publications alone aren't likely to get you hired. When I asked what would, I was told: competitive levels of prestige.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a good publication record indicative of competition and prestige? You are competing with others to place work in journals and presses. The results of this competition really is prestige, because it sure doesn't come with monetary rewards. What is the difference between this and a meritocracy?

Anonymous said...

I would guess that what 4:50 means is that, unless your diploma has lots of pretty ivy on it, all the publications in the world are not going to help you.

Anonymous said...

4:50 here. I'm not making claims that only pedigree matters. I don't know. I have no idea what goes on when selection committees meet and little clue how the process works. In conversation at the last APA two tenured professors expressed that prestige trumps hard work.

In my own experience, publishing has been easier than landing interviews. If I must guess, I think my inability to do well on the market is likely due to my program, or area, or having had an adviser that perhaps some don't like. In any event, I don't make it far enough for search committees to discover that I am socially inept, prone to substance abuse, or conspicuously interested in their pets. All fails to date have been based on the applications.

To respond to 9:22 - I used to think publishing was prestigious, but now I rather think getting published has notionally more to do with who is doing the peer-review than the prestige of the journal. Maybe not, but again, in my experience, good original papers seem to find homes more easily than their authors. I would love to see the outcomes of an anonymous application process based on pubs and statements alone.

Anonymous said...

I think the point about prestige is basically right. We have to remember, though, that what counts as prestigious varies from person to person based on their predilections, their career path, and the decade they last engaged with the field (which at many small places might be the same as the decade the one, two, or three people on faculty got their degrees). I, for example, got a job after 2008 and I did not attend any ivies. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who has gotten a job since 2008 who does not have some combination of ivy pedigree, very prestigious fellowship(s), and/or publications in the top journals (TAPA, CP, etc.) along with APA presentations.

I want to be insouciant as well and nothing in particular is standing in my way said...

Prestige is pretty much proportional to the number of times the members of the search committee have masturbated to the names of your almas matres / publications of your advisors. This is of course weighted by the vigor, or, if it was a really good wank, the vigour of each instance.

Anonymous said...

11:22, no need to be so crude.

Anonymous said...

I think 11:22 is pretty much on the money, in spite of crudeness. A very long c.v. with lots of publications seems, at a point, to become a disadvantage, especially when the advisor is famous but not universally liked and the institution not shiny enough. And when your pubs best those of the interview committee - forget it.

11:22 said...

Crudeness is one of the many things that is fun rather than needful. Be assured, I did not employ the masturbation metaphor because I thought it was necessary.

Anonymous said...

Jamie Masters: go to http://www.thiasos.co.uk/supplement-pages/bios.html and scroll to the bottom

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I've tried for 6 years now with no real luck and what most frustrates me is seeing who DID get jobs in the last, say, decade or so.

Perdix said...

With that divine link, 6:58, you have done much to satisfy my curiosity, but have only further inflamed my desire to make this man's acquaintance....

Anonymous said...

About the wiki:
What about adding demographic data about job searchers' primary areas of specialization (even as general as Greek/Latin Poetry/Prose, History, Archaeology, etc.)? It would give an idea of how many people are applying to each specialty-specific job in a given year. (Or how many people, like the aforementioned Ovidians, are out of luck.) I know not everyone uses the wiki, so it wouldn't be a perfect count, but it might be interesting just to see the data we can get (assuming the sample size is large enough).

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Anonymous said...

ah, to have the Regius Professorship of Gk at Oxford...who could be in for that?

Anonymous said...

Not sure why that got listed on the wiki. Positions like those are in-house promotions and if you're chums with the people running the search they may tell you who it will be (or at least they did for the Camden Professor of Ancient History a few years ago).

Anonymous said...

One time there was a cheese

Anonymous said...

when did the Monash job materialize? I completely missed it..

Anonymous said...

Ah, stop stirring. Is it really possible to feel offended by the idea that Oxford might have a name or two in mind for their top jobs?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that's what offends people, but rather the need to run a search for someone they want to appoint. It's something that happens at a lot of institutions, occasionally with hilarious results.

Anonymous said...

There were two jobs at Monash. They were advertised on the UK 'Liverpool Classicists' email list just two weeks before the deadline (see the link below). The start date is in January.

http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind1411&L=classicists&T=0&P=6620

Anonymous said...

does anybody know why JHU sent out requests for refs at different times, in late Oct and early Dec? Do they have a special list and a not-so special list of candidates, me being in the second category? I cannot guess the logic behind this. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they decided against everyone in the first round, and you are on the special list now? Hard to believe they couldn't find anyone they liked on their first try in this market, but I guess it could happen...

Anonymous said...

Jeez, are you new to this rodeo and FV? Despite the fact that one can be denied tenure down the road, we've been told clearly by the old guard on here that committing a line to someone is like sacrificing your first born. This is partially a result of how stingy deans have been with humanities lines, but departments are also acting like it's 1900 and classics is still a cornerstone of the academy. After much hand wringing and some failed searches, many of those chosen will wash out anyway, but that's another story for another time. In short, we're fucked.

The Ghost of Andrew Jackson said...

A public service message:

Jan. 8, 2015 will be the 200th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of New Orleans. Those of us arriving early enough might wish to take advantage of some of the festivities:
http://www.nps.gov/jela/battle-of-new-orleans-bicentennial.htm

You won't believe what the women there will do for musket balls.

If not then what about musty ones said...

Will they accept musky balls in lieu thereof?

Anonymous said...

If they don't, then Classicists are S.O.L.

Anonymous said...

This time of year makes me so depressed....

Anonymous said...

I hear you, my friend. Not that other times are better, in this kind of career. And thanks to the person who posted on Monash. Two weeks are not really a long time to give to candidates.

Anonymous said...

Re November 22, 2014 at 3:02 PM:

Who has the authority to make such structural changes to the wiki? In theory, anyone could do it.

Anonymous said...

My balls are naturally both musky and musty, but I wash them several times per day because ball slime offends my personal aesthetic.

Will these women accept naturally mus[kt]y balls, or will only balls currently in a state of mus[kt] suffice?

Anonymous said...

I know someone has already said this, but can I express my resentment for those institutions interviewing at the convention? Are you so really oblivious of the financial strain that it puts on candidates, most of whom are really really tight with money? What does it cost you to interview via SKYPE, or at least give people that option?

Anonymous said...

All my interview requests have made it clear that they are happy to arrange a Skype interview if I am not available at the SCS. Of course, there is no knowing if that would put a candidate at a disadvantage, but it is being offered.

Anonymous said...

Real scholars always attend the meeting. Or something stupid like that.

Anonymous said...

Any department stupid enough to do interviews for tenure-track jobs over Skype (except in the case of Europeans who have a good reason not to attend the conference) deserves what it potentially gets. There are very good reasons -- none of which I'll detail here -- why an in-person interview is better than Skype, and the risk of being stuck with the wrong person for decades is reason enough to have such interviews in person. As for one-year positions, Skype interviews are okay, since there's no long-term risk.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:44 AM: I think, unfortunately, the answer to your question ("Are you so really oblivious of the financial strain that it puts on candidates?") is yes. For the search my department is running this year, the draft of the ad that circulated in the department had the usual canned language about an interview at the APA. When I questioned it and asked if we could do skype interviews instead, everyone thought it was a great idea... that hadn't yet occurred to anyone else in the department because they'd just never really thought about it before.

Anon 1:27 PM: What is it that you could hide in a skype interview that you couldn't hide in a 30-minute conference interview? Bad breath? A wooden leg? Of course you shouldn't hire someone for a tenure-track job based just on a skype interview; that's why there are finalists and campus visits. It's true that even a three-day instensive campus visit isn't always enough to separate the psychopaths from the saintly scholars, but whether the first round is a skype or conference interview is not going to make a difference in that case anyway.

Anonymous said...

I don't think SCs are oblivious; they just don't care about some random person's personal finances or lack thereof.

Other people act in their own interest, not yours.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:50pm:

Yes, of course no one hires a tenure-track person on the strength of just a Skype interview -- and nowhere did I suggest such a thing, since as you correctly write there are also on-campus interviews. But as you surely know, departments are only allowed to invite 3-4 people to campus, which means they have to put themselves in the position of having those 3-4 people be the best candidates -- especially since too often failed searches do not get reauthorized for the following year. And an in-person interview is a better way of judging the best candidates than a Skype interview. I'm not going to explain why that is -- some reasons will be obvious, others not so much. But anyway, I stand by my overall point, which is that for something as crucial as a tenure-track hire departments are foolish if they think they think a series of Skype interviews is an adequate substitute for conference interviews. It's obviously a problem that this puts a hardship on people financially, but departments have to do what's best for them, especially since they might have to live with their choice for decades, and especially since the wrong choice can become very difficult to live with.

Anonymous said...

I've sat on a few hiring committees and think Skype interviews are fine for the first round.

Question: I was just looking at a classics dissertation from an American university that was, much to my surprise, all of 100 pages long. Would anyone care to weigh-in on dissertation length? I ask here because I don't want to be prejudicial if there is some kind of trend to write really short theses. But, 100 pages seems so short. Too short. Superficial short.

Anonymous said...

Right, because nothing in a Skype interview can adequately mimic the experience of having to sit on the bed opposite the search committee, or having a committee member walk into the interview 10 minutes late without even an apology, or having to wait outside in the hallway and make idle chitchat with other candidates for the same and different positions. The conference interview really does have ALL the advantages.

Anonymous said...

50 years ago, 100 pages was more than enough. Now I'd be surprised if three people or more would be willing to sign off on that short a project. Length isn't usually an official metric in the US system, though, while I know of a few countries where that's literally the only listed criterion in the MA or PhD thesis requirements.

Anonymous said...

Sure, the convention is a great place for interviews. It's hot. There is usually no water to drink. The schedule is whacky. You get wedged in a hotel room with the interview people, their dirty room service trays, people randomly knock, call, walk in during the interview. People who are supposed to interview you don't show up. You have to deal with RP and those fun people. What's not to like? And you explain the success of many of the cretins and misanthropes and non-starters who are TT or Tenured in Classics b/c they succeeded in in-person interviews at the wretched APAAIA (now SCSAIA) convention???!?!

Anonymous said...

SCSAIA sounds like a disease.

Anonymous said...

Some dumbass wrote the following:

"And an in-person interview is a better way of judging the best candidates than a Skype interview. I'm not going to explain why that is -- some reasons will be obvious, others not so much."

So you base this on your intuition, and anecdotal experiences, I assume.

But of course there is a whole body of scholarship that has shown that in-person, short-session interviews are actually quite poor in helping us distinguish good candidates from bad. One of the most notable findings of this scholarship is that our implicit biases kick in far stronger during these interviewing situations than in any other types. I could go on and explain in great detail some of the findings of this research, but I'm not going to bother.

Presumably you have a Ph.D., and my guess is that you are tenured. So do some digging and come back to us. Until then you are exhibit A for why this field is in deep shit.

First-round APA/AIA/SCS interviews are morally dubious on all sorts of grounds, and even worse they lead to worse outcomes than other options now available to us. They were a great innovation at one time, and helped to weaken the old-boys network effects. Now, however, they need to go, and we need to have the courage to shove them out the door.

Anonymous said...

"It's obviously a problem that this puts a hardship on people financially, but departments have to do what's best for them, especially since they might have to live with their choice for decades, and especially since the wrong choice can become very difficult to live with."

12:43 pretty much nailed a response to this, but there are still several things that jump out at me. From my recently tenured perspective (simultaneously young and old enough to understand both sides) I believe universities are doing themselves a disservice by not providing at least the alternative of a legitimate video interview (one that seriously considers candidates). Some of the most exciting work is being done by people who span several disciplines and they often can't attend several major conferences in one year (ASOR/SBL, SCS/AIA, AHA, CAA, AAA, etc.). You're placing yourself in a comfortable but restrictive disciplinary box if you rely solely on SCS/AIA. What if the best candidate aligns most closely with ASOR or AHA but rarely attends the SCS/AIA? Even if they interview, they could be at a disadvantage by not being as familiar with the peculiarities of the SCS/AIA. Do you want that to be what keeps you from having the best candidates and deepest pool presented to you? Skype interviews can level the playing field considerably while expanding the pool.

You must have a pretty weak tenure review system and/or a low tolerance if you assume it will be decades with an undesirable. In your defense, there are plenty of repugnant people in classics, but I'm not sure if it's worse than most. If so, it shows what a shit show the discipline is anyway so we have deeper issues at hand.

Anonymous said...

I'm 12:43.

I apologize to all for the harsh language. It was late, and I had spent all day and night reading dossiers so that my dept. could generate a short-list for interviewing in NOLA (and I have all of today budgeted for this task as well). I think I took my frustrations out online because my department plainly thinks we have to interview in-person, despite my vocal pleas to the contrary. I am ashamed to be taking part in what I obviously think is an immoral system.

FWIW, I have a Ph.D., and I am tenured, so I wasn't attacking senior colleagues simply because they are senior colleagues. But, that said, I do think that those who have not been on the market for 10 years or more can be especially obtuse when it comes to the downsides in all of this (though this doesn't hold true for all senior classicists).

And, finally, the previous comment also makes a very good point about losing out on potentially the most interesting candidates.

Down with the first-round conference interview!!

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that "potentially the most interesting candidates" aren't even remotely interesting to the dinosaurs who are so committed to the conference interview structure. Anyone who's an interesting candidate lives and breathes for the pillars of Classics, you know who they are. So a lot of our committee members will think you've broken out in some unintelligible (and probably non-indoeuropean, so not interesting) language if you start talking about interdisciplinarity and conferences in other fields. Sadly, some of the worst things about the current conference interview structure are exactly the reasons the old guard wants to keep the status quo. Fortunately, Father Time has begun conspiring to add some new blood and new perspectives to at least some of our departments, and I am holding onto some hope that the times they will become very different over the next 5 years or so. Hopefully a lot of us can hold our breath that long...

Anonymous said...

That's nice but a lot of us will be dead from asphyxia by the time Classics fixes itself. If Classics dies, the baby boomer old guard is the party responsible for killing it. Why should we stick around and be treated like dirt? Adaptation is required for survival, not stubborn myopia. CULater, Classics ostriches. Enjoy the post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellscape when you finally pull your heads out of the sand.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Mad Max hellscape is already here. Look the fuck around.

The death of Classics isn't some hypothetical, far-off thing we'll be experiencing in a few decades. It is happening now.

Modern day Classicists are holed up in a disciplinary Masada at this point, but the real world is getting ready to come up the ramp.

Anonymous said...

"Modern day Classicists are holed up in a disciplinary Masada at this point, but the real world is getting ready to come up the ramp."

hahahaha!

This won't be news to many of you but here some interesting data on Phd production:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/12/08/number-phds-awarded-climbs-recipients-job-prospects-dropping

Anonymous said...

"Modern day Classicists are holed up in a disciplinary Masada at this point, but the real world is getting ready to come up the ramp."

I hate to burst your bubble but this is still an earth-centric view of the disciplinary solar system. The world does not give a shit about classics. Rather than Masada, we're some long-forgotten outpost in the wilderness of Germania hoping to hear from our rulers who are just getting roaring drunk back in Rome. The decent ones feel a tinge of guilt knowing that what they hand down to the next generation is a steaming pile of donkey shit but most drink the night away with hardly a care except whether they'll still get theirs.

Anonymous said...

this somehow seems topical:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J206CKoG1R0

Anonymous said...

These are terrible analogies. Masada (and, presumably, those Mormons) are remembered. No one will remember Classics once it's gone; they don't even know it's here (kind of) now.

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