Sunday, September 23, 2007

And Where Are You When the Sun Goes Down?

Long time readers might remember how I dealt with my complete and total failure on the job market last year. I spent the better part of a couple of months lying in bed, sucking my thumb and watching hours and hours of The Wire. My problem was, I'd actually sorted of expected to do better. Not get a job necessarily, but for my 94 applications, I thought I'd do better than three APA interviews followed by sweet fuck all else. I wanted a fly-back. I wanted to give a job talk. I got nothing, and the failure to get anything I'd hoped for hit me like a piece of rebar in the stomach every time I thought about it.

As fun as that was, I don't want to do it again. So this year, the plan was to keep my thoughts about the market in check--to expect and to hope for nothing. That was the plan anyway.

I just got an e-mail telling me about a job opening I can apply for. The thing is, it's in the same city as a job the Future Dr. Mrs Dr. PGS is applying for. Getting jobs in the same city--me in philosophy, her in her MLA discipline--is our only hope of not going back to a long distance relationship at the end of this year. And sweet holy God, I don't want us to go back to long-distance.

So the plan for the year's dead in the water, I'm hoping for everything, and while the excitement feels good, I've got a bad, bad feeling about the beating I'm going to take in the spring.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

If she's going to a bigger city, research the community colleges -- especially if you are ABD, they are a decent place to get some experience. They also tend to post their jobs in unusal places and later in the season.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

ItPF - Yeah, if one of us gets a job, there'll likely be some later-season wrangling for something temporary. (Which is exactly how we got to be together this year. . . .)

Sisyphus said...

Ah, hello! Acephalous sent me. I went on the job market in lit last year and totally bombed out. You don't mind if I hang out here and sob quietly while drinking all your wine, do you?

Nice place. I'm liking the minimalist nihilist look.

Anonymous said...

MLA discipline? Update the obnoxious glossary plz!

Anonymous said...

I've come across your blog recently and have read literally every post (with rapt fascination akin to that of watching a train wreck).

I think the thing that's struck me hardest is the nearly deafening silence of those within the profession, on this blog and on other issues (in particular, what is contributing to the fact that 50% of enrolled PhD students quit before finishing).

Anonymous said...

Wow, good luck. I'm at a parallel stage in terms of PhD programs and my partner's placement (which is in the sciences/medicine, so she has a bit more demand to work with!)

Anonymous said...

Deafening silence in the profession, huh?

OK I'm tenure-track at medium midwest college. I did 2 1 year non-TT stints and then got this job. I sent out over 100 apps each year. I felt so lucky to get any job at all, even 1 year non-TTs, and elated when I got the TT. But my tiny department is in collapse, we'll probably be eliminated in December. I'm not optimistic about tenure, and frankly worried about even reaching my tenure year. And for the first time after over a decade of teaching, I'm not convinced that academia is worth it. I believe in philosophy, but the "professional" side of "professional philosophy" just interferes with the "philosophy" side sooo much. I know good philosophers who are not good professionals (myself and others) and good professionals who are not good philosophers. But precious few who can meld the two without feeling constantly torn between two masters.

And everything I see about the future makes me think it will get far worse before it gets better. The economy is going to dry up, peak oil will start catching up with us, fewer students will be able to go to college, and academic in-fighting will hit even the good schools as contraction sets in.

And yet philosophy is of such manifest consolation in times of trouble, even when it isn't a good career-track that it is hard to discourage people. Maybe we should promote amateur philosophy, or maybe I'm just back justifying my poor professional performance. Why do so many grad-students drop out? The job prospects suck, and some get pushed hard and burn out, and some find the truths they seek hurt more than expected, and sometimes the job doesn't seem to be doing any good. My wife was in a philosophy Ph.D. program in another state before she dropped out, and afterwards she worked in a bakery. She said she loved the fact that making bread was a manifest tangible good she could do in the world. No wrangling about whether she accomplished anything or whether the product was worth the cost. Moving from philosophy grad student to pre-dawn-baker felt like a step up in the world for her.

Jon Cogburn, is as usual, right about so much in his earlier post, but it isn't just that the philosophy job market has tanked since the 70s, it is that all entry level jobs have tanked badly in real PPP levels. And I think the class problems go even deeper. For a long time academics in all disciplines came overwhelmingly from the professional class, and stayed there they're whole life. Now there is a long enough stint in grad-school poverty, and non-TT struggling, that many philosophers wind up being a little bit too, uhm working-class for their colleagues in other departments, by the time they get to a TT job. Also I've found that my grad-school taught me all kinds of cool and useful things, and very much prepared me for teaching, but did not adequately prepare me for the "service" section of the teaching/research/service triad of almost all TT jobs.

Crap, too much confessional bitching, back to work with me! Back to work for all of you too! For shame! For Shame!


Anonymous said...

The answer from inside the profession is that you don't fuck up your personal life for just any field of study, but philosophy is different.

Anonymous said...

No matter how bad it gets, we never seem to run short of people willing to go through the system. I assume the job market system will just get more and more hateful over time, until the number of applicants goes down enough.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel better, I haven't had an Eastern interview in three years. I've only gone to give papers and get really, really drunk while everyone else interviews.