Friday, December 12, 2008

Pack your bags, we're moving

You wanted new threads and now you get a whole new blog. Second Suitor and I are flying solo over yonder at our new venture, The Philosophy Smoker. Details about what we're up to and the type of commenting community we're trying to go for are already up, as is this sad little story courtesy of Second Suitor via the wiki.

So, update your bookmarks and subscription to and come on over, everyone is more than welcome.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Not that it really matters, but the philosophy job wiki seems to be down.  I've been looking at it periodically, but trying not to waste too much time looking at it.  I mean, if you get an interview you'll hear about that from the school.  Until I hear from a school that they're not interested I'll keep some hope.

Anyway, the less job stuff on the internet, the more I can enjoy the shit out of my Tofurkey.

-- Second Suitor

Update: it's back up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I was bruised and battered and I couldn't tell what I felt

It's around this time of the year that mild depression tends to set in. Not only does Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) always hit me like a ton of bricks, but there's also the onslaught of grading/teaching (and the sick, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, non-mouth covering students that go along with it) and pressure from the committee to actually turn something substantive in (they should write the damn thing if they want it so bad) to be dealt with. It's the perfect shitstorm that gathers just in time to ruin the respite offered by the Thanksgiving holiday (I plan on entering a food coma atop a pile of student papers stained with turkey gravy).

Usually, I try to pull myself out of this funk by looking forward to the days of Winter break. My holiday drink of choice, eggnog spiked with brandy, doesn't hurt either. But, I found this strategy to be less effective this year. At first, I thought my tolerance had just gone up after years spent in graduate school. So, a few days ago, fancying myself an almost-Doctor, I increased the dosage on my (self) medication. On a particularly bad night (details revoked) I had four, maybe five, eggnogs instead of the usual two.

The next day, I woke up with a heavy head, reached for the bedside ibuprofen and glass of water, gulped down three red pills, and took a look at my planner. Noticing that my students were turning their papers in that day, visions of Winter break, hot chocolate, and fruitcake danced through my head. My spirits were temporally lifted, and I looked in my planner to the glorious days that lay ahead. It was then that the deepness of this year's depression made sense.

Anyone else looking forward to spending the last week of December in Philadelphia?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rain, Sleet..

So interfolio ships the fast things using DHL and DHL quit. I'm guessing DHL will finish shipping the stuff they've already received and interfolio just doesn't currently have a super fast or delivery confirming service until they get something worked out.

Just something to keep in mind for those Dec 1 deadlines..

-- Second Suitor

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest Post: Getting a Job

The Future Time Machine Builder reminds us that it could always be worse. --PGOAT

Getting a job in philosophy is a bit like trying to satisfy this posting:

Actually, this one might be easier to satisfy than the demands of some philosophy departments.

--TFTMB (The Future Time Machine Builder)

Friday, November 7, 2008

In other depressing news

The Times tells us what we already know. Anyone else drinking themselves to sleep tonight?

"In what respect, Charlie?"

A useful strategy. In case you're feeling cornered in an APA interview.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's been a slow education

I peruse The National Review's Corner every now and again for a larf (and sometimes to just scare myself; it's like riding a roller coaster) and came across this gem:
Preliminary indications are that the youth vote (ages 18-29) was way up: an increase of somewhere over 2.2 million (maybe way over) from 2004 (a year in which it was very high), and as much as 13% over 2000. The Left's dominance of the academy is now having a material impact on electoral politics.
Because, you know, even though I can barely get my students to read what I assign and form cogent thoughts, I definitely have the ability to brainwash them so they vote the way I do.

Looks like we should get ready for a renewed assault on our academic freedom from the right within the next few years. And just as I developed a way to work the liberal, socialist agenda into my lectures on Descartes. Fuck.


Update: A few commenters point us in the following direction. Thanks for the ammunition and keep up the fight against these zombie lies.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cash rules everything around me

Some commenters, like Anon. 4:26, from the weekend post on academic attire want a different post "to figure more prominently on the webpage" because they hate fun. I don't blame them, if I were on the market, I probably wouldn't be in the mood for unnecessary distractions either.

Others, like Spanky Wants a Job, want to speculate, wildly or otherwise, on more "worthwhile" matters. They ask:
Can someone please post something about how the bad financial markets are affecting this years' Fall job market? I know that Univ. of San Fran, VMI, and Worcester have cancelled their searches. Anywhere else? Might the Spring market be better? Any speculation that the number of VAPs will rise?
We here at the PJMB don't usually negotiate with the fun police in the comments, but I'm going to make an exception in this case. So, in the service of the aforementioned true believers here at the PJMB, I hereby make the prominent post on the webpage one soliciting your informed opinions on the effects of the financial markets on the job market, because, in fact, this does seem worthwhile.

I would say something, but I've wasted most of my time this weekend thinking about ties and need to get back to work.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

I always wear a corduroy suit, cause it's made of a hundred gutters

Oh, glorious commenters! You never manage to fail me. I've been waiting for a discussion to come up on what is appropriate dress for the APA and, lo and behold, like clockwork, the true believers fire one up. Not only can I express my opinions on ties (Why in the hell would you not want to wear one? Personally, my tie collection resembles the stereotypical vision we have of a women's shoe closet: there's a lot of them and I don't need more than three. Though, that's not exactly true, if you have plenty of ties to rotate through, no one will ever notice you're wearing the same shirt over and over. Just remember: wear the right one to your interviews.), but I can also link to this (year old) interview (from the Chronicle) with fashion guru Tim Gunn.

I must say, he really hits the nail on the head here:
Q: Why do you think academics are so poorly dressed?

A: I really do think it's derived from a kind of intellectual snobbery that says, I'm above this. This is a phrase I hear all the time: Fashion is so ephemeral. And I do say to these people who are published and publishing more, What's more ephemeral than the written word? And I hate to get defensive about it, but within the design arena, let alone the wider academic world, fashion really is the F word. There's this unwillingness to engage in any kind of fashion dialogue. It's beneath them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Post: Got Guts?

Is it too early to start reveling in the horror stories? Naw. It is, after all, Hallowe'en. OooooOoooh! Scary. -- PGOAT

So, the other night I was having dinner with a couple of colleagues (they are both tenured professors at top schools). Because I am on the market this year, each of them recounted their own horrible (yet somewhat comical) job search experiences. One was so nervous while at the APA smoker, that he excused himself from talking with a very famous philosopher to throw up in the bathroom. The other had trouble pouring himself a glass of water during an interview because of his intense shaking. In retrospect, they were both able to laugh at themselves about this kind of stuff (I was certainly laughing with them).

But there were other parts of the process that (even after many years) weren't so funny. In particular, they each told some stories about how badly they were treated during some interviews. Without giving any details, I will say that it should be clear to all readers of this blog that not all interviewers are nice to and/or even remotely interested in their interviewees. Both of my colleagues expressed some regret that they didn't have the guts then to get up and walk out of such situations. I'm wondering if anyone out there has had the gumption to do such a thing (or knows someone that did). How did it go? Any serious repercussions? Would you recommend such a practice to others?

-- (Almost) Ready To Stand Up For Myself

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Show me the money!

So I've been doing some rough calculations and I'm guessing that a fairly full scale application process is going to run in the ballpark of $600-$800 this year.  I'm sure the mailing will get cheaper when I'm not rushing things off to Nov 1 deadlines, but so far I think mailing out each app is going to end up costing something like $10-$18.  This includes sending out my basic app and then seperately sending out my letters.  (It should be noted the super awesome placement committee at my institution is probably going to find some money to reimburse us some unknown amount so that cost should come down). 

Does that sound normal?  Am I too worried about getting applications in "on time"?  Or more generally, outside of paper, ink and postage, what costs am I forgetting?

Regardless, landing a job would totally be worth $600..

-- Second Suitor 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guest Post: Moving Up

Mr. Philosophyhead is back. Thoughts, ye social climbers? --PGOAT

Here's a question I have always wanted to ask to a bunch of employment-seeking assholes like myself under conditions of mutual anonymity. Coming from my program the only 2/2 anyone would ever feel entitled to would be as an uninsured member of a certain department located in or near Poughkeepsie. As far as anyone around here can recall, there have been a few placements of our students directly into research programs, but it seems like it happens at an average of about once every decade. So the question is, supposing I score a less than dream job the first time out, what are the chances of eventually climbing the ol' non-corporate ladder? Has this happened to you or anyone you know? Exactly how much less than a dream job was it, and how long did it take?

Thanks again, PJMBers!

--Mister Philosophyhead

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guest Post: Now We're Talkin'

Philosotographer has my kind of ideal job ad. PGS relays by email that his ideal job ad would be AOS: being an ex-blogger, AOC: saying "fuck" a lot. -PGOAT

As long as we’re thinking about what the “ideal job ad” would look like, why not dream bigger? Two years ago, when I received the October 2006 JFP, I wrote out my ideal job ad:

333. TRINITY COLLEGE, Dublin, Ireland. The newly established Institute for Rock and Social Justice Semester at Sea Program invites application for a tenure-track appointment to begin September 2007. AOS: Photography. AOC: Ethics, Drumming, Logic, and one or more of the following: Whale Watching, Bowling, Kayaking, Documentary film watching/making. ABD preferred (Ph.D. considered). Please send CV, portfolio, writing sample, and list of favorite things. Interviews will NOT be conducted at the APA Eastern Division meeting because we respect Christmas and time off. PE/ACE.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guest Post: What's with all the student conferences?

Anonymous MA Department Chair presents us with a very good question. --PGOAT

I’m the chair at a well-regarded MA Program and I have a beef to express. What’s with the proliferation of student conferences? It seems that almost every day I get another flyer or e-mail announcing a graduate student or, God forbid, undergraduate student conference. Our bulletin board is plastered with them. They are simply mushrooming. What’s the deal with this? I suppose that it might be good practice for students to organize conferences, deliver papers, and meet peers. But from my point of view, there’s a problem. If we encourage our students to participate and they are accepted to various programs (a not unlikely scenario given how many conferences there are), then they look to me and the department for funding. We already have limited travel funds to support our faculty, and there is no separate slush fund to draw from to help our students travel to Illinois, California, Florida, New Jersey, and wherever.

I also don’t believe that the faculty members at most of the places sponsoring such conferences truly want to attend and sit through papers by a myriad of students, some perhaps good, some likely not-so-good. Frankly, I wouldn’t. Do the faculty members encourage this? Do they actually show up? Are such conferences are a good idea? Why are they on the increase? Do they really help anyone? I would like to hear your opinion. Can you please tell your fellow graduate students to stop organizing these conferences? If not, can you recommend an attitude or policy I should take in advising our own students?

Thank you for letting me vent here.

--Anonymous MA Department Chair

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on the ideal job ad.

It's true. I do run a blog concerned with job market issues. And now it's not just the APA people who want to talk to you, my lovelies. Now it's the people at Yale. Play nice. -- PGOAT

Dear "PGoat,"

I understand that you run a Blog that is concerned with job market issues. We have been trying to make our job ad as user-friendly as possible. Could you check with your readers about whether the following is useful, and -- if not -- how it might be improved?



-- Tamar

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The ideal job ad.

The APA is listening, folks! The APA feels our pain. The APA wants to help. It wants to serve us better.

Kevin Timpe just left a comment regarding Anon 8:19's contention that "[i]f the APA--an organization to which we pay a not insignificant amount of money in dues--had their act together, then all of the ads would be standardized, and all of the job dossiers, including confidential letters of recommendation, would be uploaded by candidates and letter writers to some secure server where search coms could access them."

Here's Timpe's response:
I'm on the APA Committee on Academic Career Opportunities and Placement. I strongly doubt Anon's request will happen anytime soon, for various reasons that you all can likely guess. But what I'd like to hear is exactly how the JFP (in roughly something like its current form--print and online copies) could be more user-friendly and helpful for folks on the market. This is something the committee was discussing earlier today. I've heard the desideratum of a standardized format, with fields for easy mail-merge. What else would PJMB readers like? Consider this the opportunity to design your ideal job ad, in terms of form/structure (rather than specific content).
Talk to the nice man, people. Enough of this wailing into the void. Give him some concrete suggestions about what the APA can do to make our lives easier. (Or, you know, at least slightly less riddled with despair.)


Let's get competent

Bumped up from yesterday's comments:

Anonymous 4:25p said:
When some places advertise an AOC (or less often, AOS) in "History of Philosophy," what am I supposed to think? Do they mean ALL periods of the history of philosophy? Or just one or more? What, exactly?

There's a related question. Sometimes you see an AOC in "critical thinking." Does anyone have an official AOC in "Critical Thinking"? I've never heard of it. If they're just looking for someone who can teach Intro to Logic and such, that's just about everyone with a PhD in philosophy, no?
My guess is that when History of Philosophy is an AOC they want you to be able to teach a few historical classes and it's fine if they're in some particular area. If it's an AOS they expect you to be an expert in one area in the history of philosophy but they don't have a specific preference as to what period. Sound right?

Also, wouldn't it be nice if posters used some anonymous name so we're not always referring to each other by the time stamp. It smacks too much of Parfit for me..

-- Second Suitor

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guest Post: Cut Off

Here's a depressing scenario from Lost to brighten your Monday morning. --PGOAT

I was just recently cut off by my Ph.D. granting institution. The secretary with the support of faculty and admin have decided that none of my requests to send out dossiers will be filled from now on. They say that I have exceeded the annual maximum. They put a limit of 100 requests per year and only for 5 years after being awarded the Ph.D. With the difficult job market and the possibility that it could take anywhere from 5-9 years to secure a TT position, this is a crushing blow to my career prospects. Has this happened to anyone out there? If so, how did you get around it? Is this the supreme vote of no confidence (you will never get a job, so it is pointless for us to continue sending out dossiers)? Shouldn't new grad students be notified that the department's support for their future job search will be severely limited? Any advice would be appreciated.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Don't go crazy"

How can writing cover letters be so hard?  I mean, they're kind of easy:

Hi pals!

I'm applying for your job.  My diss is pretty and I'm going to be super done before you hire me.

Did I mention I'm good for your job?


That seems simple enough, but somehow the 'I'm good for your job' is impossible to say in a nice, clean 4 sentence paragraph.  I  mean seriously.  I am good for the job.  My interests, your needs.. they go together like bananas and peanut butter.  It may not sound good at first but try it!

So I'm just going to spend a little while longer on this lovely saturday night rewriting a fine but not great paragraph while my non-philosophy friend tells me not to go crazy (note: this somehow doesn't help).

-- Second Suitor

Friday, October 17, 2008

I don't know if she's worth 900 kr

It's probably a little late in the game for a discussion of selective job searches to be helpful to those who are standing at the edge of the deep (or, in this case, the shallow) end of the pool trying to figure out if they should jump in and splash around. Nonetheless, there's inklings of this discussion in the comment thread over yonder, and I thought it merits it's own post.

What I've been told from numerous people-in-the-know is that going on the job market selectively makes no sense; if you're ready to apply to some jobs, then you should be ready to put your shoulder to the wheel and go forward full-bore with the applications. I pushed back on this sentiment at first. I wanted to leave open the possibility of applying selectively (just in case the perfect job satisfying all my academic and geographic desires came about), but I've come around to share it for the following (non-exhaustive) reasons:
1) Being ready for the market is all-or-nothing: you either have your dissertation done (or close to done) so your letter-writers can say that you'll have your Ph.D by the time of appointment, you either have publications or don't, you either have a job market portfolio prepared or not, et cetera, et cetera.
2) A selective job search, if conducted because you're not completely ready to apply to all kindsa jobs for the above reasons, more than likely won't be successful. That time you will have spent applying to jobs will be wasted. It's oh-so-precious time you could have spent finishing the dissertation, getting published, or getting a jump on the job market portfolio.
3) There's an off-chance that a job search, if conducted before your eggs have hatched, may hurt any future chance you have at getting that job. If that job is so dreamy as to draw your application and it isn't up-to-snuff, then if it isn't filled, there's no reason for them to take your application seriously the next year. First impressions matter (and perhaps there's a chance of those first impressions hurting your philosophical reputation elsewhere?).
I'm not entirely sold on whether or not these reasons compellingly speak against a selective job search (or make sense, especially the third reason). But, if these don't do it for you, I'm sure people can build upon them (and attack them accordingly) as they see fit in the comments. So, have at it!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's time to face the hole

There are some good jobs that call for 'open' AOSs.  I mean, yeah, I could work at MIT or Berkeley.  But seriously... open?  What department honestly has the resources to just hire, you know, someone who does whatever...

Don't get me wrong.  I'm officially taking them at their word for it and applying to all the 'open' posititions (becuase that could mean me!).   But this kind of feels like I'm wasting their time and they're wasting my money.

-- Second Suitor

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The room is dark and heavy with what I want to say

This damn anonymity. There's just so much I wish I could get into for the true believers here at PJMB. Things like my advisor laying out, in no uncertain terms, the wonderfully outlandish conditions that would have to be satisfied in order for me to get a job this year given my current situation (let's just say it involved possible worlds in which our respective counterparts couldn't be any more dissimilar from our existing selves in the actual world). Or, how, unlike my incredibly smart colleagues, I did myself no favors in relation to going on the job market (whenever that is) in teaching what I ended up teaching this year (did I seriously choose to teach what I'm teaching now? fuck).

But, as much as it pains me to have to navigate the tricky, secretive waters of revealing some without revealing too much that comes with the anonymous blog territory and how to come to grips with it keeping me from telling stories that may provide some small comfort or diversion to our loyal readers, I take solace in the fact that the moral of said better left unsaid stories is: it's beginning to look a lot like I'm forgoing the market this year.

Thing is, though, I'm not so sure I should be as happy I am with these developments as I am. Good thing I have this anonymous venue from which I can complain.


Guest Post: Cover Letter Hell

Presenting ... The Epistemologizer. -- PGOAT

Writing cover letters is giving me panic attacks. I'm trying to get input from a number of different professors, so it's not just my committee telling me "Yes, your letters look good. Now get back to writing your dissertation." Perhaps predictably, the advice I've been getting from the different professors I've shown my letters to is all over the map. So far I've received, on the one hand, a multiple pages-long response giving me paragraph-by-paragraph suggestions. On the other, a six-line email saying that you can never really help yourself by saying things in the letter, really you can only harm yourself, so in that respect the less said the better. What does one DO with a response like that?

Then there's the conversation I had with another professor today, in which he said: "Well essentially this has been rehashed already for the past decade by plenty of people, so what makes your dissertation project new and important? How is it different from what X said in 1996?" I think my mouth was open, but no sounds were coming out. Not a good sign. (Mental note: start prepping for job interviews so I can actually answer that question should anyone decide to interview me after reading whatever becomes of this cover letter.) So not only do I not feel so great about the state of my cover letters, but now thanks to my efforts at trying to improve first impressions, I've been thrown into a crisis of self-doubt that my project is at all worthwhile or philosophically significant, so should I even make it through the first round by some miracle, I'll blow it once I get to the interview stage for lack of being able to answer very basic questions like the one just cited. Did I mention that I've only written 12 pages of my third chapter? There are four chapters of my dissertation, so really I haven't even written (and therefore have no idea what will be in) the end yet. Come to think of it, my committee might be onto something.

-- The Epistemologizer

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Comics


(A larger pic is just a click away)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guest Post: 2008-2009 Marist Awards

Here's Mister Philosophyhead again, this time with a call to categorize the worst of the ads in the JFP. Someone needs to figure out how to turn this into a drinking game. --PGOAT

Nominations are now open for the worst job ads of the 2008-2009 hiring cycle. The awards are named after the famous ad from Marist College in JFP 176, which to my mind at least, will probably go down as the worst JFP ad of Our Time:

"*28.,*29.,*30.,*31.,*32.,*33.,*34.,*35.,*36.,*37. MARIST COLLEGE, Poughkeepsie, NY. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Marist College invites applications for adjunct positions teaching Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, or World Views and Values starting in the fall of 2007 or the spring of 2008. Adjuncts usually teach no more than one or two courses per semester. MA in philosophy required, Ph.D. desirable. Teaching experience desirable. Applications considered immediately. Please submit a CV and letter of interest to: Chair, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Marist College, 3399 North Road, FN 221, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. (SW07) (176)"

(A condemnation of this ad, along with a completely inadequate response, presumably from someone at Marist, can be found here:

The question is, what job ads from this year deserve wider recognition and ridicule? Here are the categories:

(1) Most utter contempt for human life and well-being

(2) Most bizarre requirements for application materials

(3) Most outrageous combination of AOS's and AOC's

(4) Most [insert any other disreputable practice you can think of here]

Thanks again for your help, PJMB community!

--Mister Philosophyhead

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nothing is fucked

A couple quick thoughts on reading the JFP for the first time when I'm actually going on the market:

1. Every time I cross out a job I can feel some opportunity slip away (this is worse when I cross out a whole page).

2. Seriously William and Mary? You want applications the day after tomorrow? Where I come from that's the Lord's day.

3. Somehow in my mind this was more of an all-at-once thing. I'm going to end up writing cover letters for the rest of the semester.

4. This year's JFP is 4 pages shorter than last year's ...

--Second Suitor

Thursday, October 9, 2008

PSA: October JFP

It's up. Have at 'er. Thanks to several intrepid commenters for being all on-the-ball 'n stuff.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wherein PGOAT tries her hand at advice columnry.

Please tell me why it is so tough. As a rising senior now applying for Ph.D. programs, a lot of what I hear is depressing or blatant denials. But I'm mostly told that (1) if you publish a lot and make the right connections as a Ph.D. candidate, you will emerge with a job and (2) that most of the old folks will be retiring by the time that I finish. Are these myths that deserve to be trashed as we seek better options or what? Hope I don't sound too nervy. Thanks for all you do.
-- Jhdeleuzian

Dear Jhdeleuzian,

I love nervy. Bring it on. As for the advice you're being given:

(1) is right, but not nearly as easy as you might think it would be. Grad school is hard. Like, really really hard. Telling you that all you have to do is "publish a lot and make the right connections" is about as awesome as Charles de Mar's skiing advice in Better Off Dead: "Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn." It's not wrong exactly, it's just totally fucking useless.

(For important suggestions about how to avoid some pitfalls in thinking about this, check out what PGS wrote here a while back.)

(2) is a tired myth that deserves to be trashed. The assholes who perpetuate this myth deserve to have their kneecaps smashed in with a ball-peen hammer. Some discussion of this in the PJMB archives can be found here, here, and here.

good luck kisses,


Edit: Bonus Better Off Dead trailer! (Go to 0:56 for the quote.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Guest Post: Deal-Killers

Mister Philosophyhead is back, with his second guest post.  This dude is definitely growing on me. -- PGOAT

Now that we have settled all the more pressing issues of philosophy job marketeers everywhere, like what that crossed-out date on the APA site meant, or how great my playlist is compared to yours, or anything involving you telling me stuff about the market that I already know or should have known, assuming that I am really enrolled in graduate school and interacting with real faculty members and real other graduate students on a regular basis, rather than someone who just happened to stumble on this blog by accident and who writes posts to fulfill some sort of Chuck Plahniuk or whatever his name is type fantasy of pretending to share in other people's suffering for the sake of personal catharis or just to alleviate boredom (in the movie anyway it was unclear which it was exactly), well, maybe then we can get around to some simpler issues for folks like me.  So here is an unresolved question from my last post which I have been thinking about.
Suppose you got hired recently and there is something you now know about your new department or school which would have made you think twice about accepting the job.  But of course, nobody told you before you were hired.  It could be something weird though not necessarily deal-breaking, like that half the department are practicing Wiccans.  Or maybe something not so weird but potentially deal-killing, like [
redacted for the sake of author's and author's friend's anonymity] I have three questions about this, one theoretical, one practical, and one solely for entertainment:
(1) Does the head of the search committee have an obligation to tell you these weird or potentially deal-killing facts before your accept an offer?
(2) Assuming the head of the search committee does not fulfill such an obligation, how do I go about finding out?
(3) Any stories?
Thanks again, PJMBers.  I've gotta go update my iPod now!
--Mister Philosophyhead

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ZOMG we totally need a PhilBot!!!1!!

I just stumbled across this brilliant website.  The artist makes a new robot every single day. I love it.  Totally inspired.

That's NerdBot.  Maybe we can convince her to make a walrus and dinosaur to torture him?


Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest Post: Bored

I'm not entirely certain Anon. 5:04 makes total sense. But she/he did make me laugh. Parsimonious rejection of explanatorily impotent entities? Prophylactic antidepressants? I love it. -- PGOAT

I can't believe that I just read that post about why there was a deadline of Oct. 10, and that I'm now responding to it. I must be very bored. I hope most of you are posting out of boredom worry is that the job market has made many of the people anxious and compulsive in a way that would place them along some clinical continuum. The job market SUCKS. My happy story for finishing my dissertation is not the great work that came close to deadline, but the three months of regularly remembering and even saying outloud to myself that I had actually finished the program. It was very awesome--phenomenologically like getting short flashbacks of a strong opioid drug. Everything before that, though, was for two years bad or terrible or sucky. Makes people who are confident to the point of unpleasant start to treat animals kindly, become so anxious that they lose a great deal of weight, develop self-effacing humor, and almost make you like them. Like Palin. I almost like her. Have you noticed that she is not hot anymore? Strange things happen when your spirit gets crushed, especially if you already don't believe in spirits on account of their failure to meet any reasonable standard for explanatory potency. Speaking of entities you rejected as a teenager on grounds of parsimony, you will likely try out an abortive prayer or two in the final weeks of your defense.

If you get a good VAP job, which I did, you might surprise yourself by being happy. I did at least. If I had had to jump around for several--or even two, who knows?--years as an adjunct it would probably lose its charm. But for a while there you feel like a professional, and, in the context of grad life and debt and collection agencies, rich to the point where you think you might donate some of that extra cash to Oxfam, and then don't. ...

No moral--just some reflections on a mixed experience that, I know, if often not nearly as leavened as mine has been by fairly pure enjoyment in the subject itself. If I had the anxiety problems that all of you seem to have, I probably wouldn't have liked grad school as much as I did. I went on antidepressants very early, though, as a prophylactic to the misery I saw coming.

Sorry, I bet I made those who were previously anxious bored. Read it again maybe before your defenses for its anxiolytic properties?

Oh, indeed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Can anyone shed light on this little line on when the JFP comes out:
179 September 5, 2008 October 10, 2008
179W Copy Date:
New Ads Received Until October 24
Publication date: Beginning October 10

I'm already starting to get a headache thinking about tracking down the job ads that get received 2 weeks after we get the JFP.

Also, how does a publication date have a beginning?

-- Second Suitor

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guest Post: How the University Works

Okay, so this wasn't really sent in as a guest post so much as a recommended link, but I'll let it slide. In part because it looks like quite the project this guy has undertaken. (Though I haven't really watched any of it, so don't take me as vouching for the content here.) In part because the project looks to be at least tangentially related to many of the themes we all like to beat to death here at PJMB. But also because y'all are totally shirking your guest post responsibilities and I don't really have a lot to choose from. C'mon people. Throw me a fucking bone here. Goddamn freeriders. -- PGOAT

You might be interested in this YouTube series by Marc Bousquet on the corporatization of the university and the travails of contingent faculty.

-- JT

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Comics

Phil ABD is my first foray into the so-called 'soap opera' genre of strips.

(Click the pic to enlarge)


Guest Post: VAP Trap

Here's Cinderella, with a highly depressing tale from the trenches. -- PGOAT

The VAP Trap has been thoroughly unpacked and elucidated here before. But I don't recall seeing the one in which the Department Chair, desperate for a real, live Ph.D. to teach four back-to-back sections of a required class as a VAP, dangles the possibility of a tenure-track hire in the next couple of years, "for which you'd be warmly encouraged to apply (wink, wink)." Then when the position is finally advertised, the Chair passes on the app without even a glance because "we don't have any interest in offering tenure-track to anyone who's ever taught this class; it doesn't fit our self-conception as a department."

I seem to recall there's some formal fallacy in which the negation of the sufficient condition is the necessary condition. But perhaps I'm wrong about that; teaching as a VAP apparently causes irreversible brain rot.

-- Cinderella

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guest Post: Tunes

Last season I was kind of partial to blaring Rage Against the Machine through the ipod headphones before interviews. Totally pumps you up. Srsly. Guest poster Iamjob takes a decidedly more mellow approach to things. What about y'all? --PGOAT

I thought it might be fun to start a thread of songs that we're listening to to get ready for the job season.

I'll get us going with some smooth classics:

Built to Spill -- "The Plan"
Bruce Springsteen -- "Growin' Up"
Pavement -- "Major Leagues"
Wilco -- "Either Way"
Gordon Lightfoot -- "I'm Not Sayin'/Ribbon of Darkness"

If I were an even bigger nerd, I'd link to mp3s. Oh well.

-- Iamjob

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paint it..

I don't know about ya'll, but my job market label in gmail is black.

-Second Suitor

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Guest Post: Ten More Polite Instructions for Search Committees ('Tis the season)

A new guest post for you, my darlings, from the charmingly named Mister Philosophyhead. -- PGOAT

1. If you are your department's resident old crank who has decided in advance that no candidate's accomplishments are good enough for a job in your department, do not volunteer for the search committee. And if you do, please do not exchange superior glances with the other old crank on the committe while I am in the middle of answering one of your (outdated) questions.

2. If you are from a religious school and do not plan on bringing up your department's religious mission during the interview, there is no need to notify candidates in advance. If you do plan on getting into it, however, it would be nice to drop a hint when you make that initial phone call ("and then we'll spend 20 minutes talking about the last time you went to communion").

3. Don't make me fill out some online form where I have to list any misdemeanors just for you to look at my application. If I list my high-school shoplifting, I'm afraid I won't be hired; if I don't, I'll be constantly worried that it could come back to haunt me.

4. Don't send me a rejection notice in October of the next academic year. I've spent the previous 7-10 months getting over last year's job search, I've deduced by now that someone else got the job you advertised, and I don't want to be reminded. Would you send condolences to someone's widow 5 years later? Well, that's what it's like.

5. Don't give me an APA interview if no matter how well it goes, you won't invite me for a campus visit because of where my PhD is from. Don't waste my time and I won't waste yours. Seriously, this breaks my heart.

6. Just don't advertise a job that "includes teaching a possible course at Wisconsin State Penitentiary." It brings me down because I will actually apply for that job (and, despite my prior experience with the juvenile court system, still get rejected).

7. If you visited me and my officemates in our office, we would try not to yell obscenities at one another for the time you were there, even if that is how we normally act. We would want you to like us enough to come back sometime. So on your end, maybe you could find it in your heart to suppress any weird intradepartmental tensions or power struggles for the short duration of the interview.

8. Well, I wanted to get to ten but that guy on Rate Your Students covered most of the good stuff. Do yourself a favor, Mr. Search Committee Member, and go read his list one more time!

-- Mister Philosophyhead

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm just sittin' on the shelf

Anon. 7:41, from over yonder on this here thread, asks:
So what are folks doing now to gear up for the job market? And whose advisors are batshit crazy?
For my part, I must say that blank faced-doe eyed-text messaging- students have been doing a damn good job of diverting my attention from job market preparation these days. And, of course, this utter lack of preparation is surely going to cost me whatever jobs I may end up applying for this year. And I'm sure the good-not batshit crazy-but invariably uncomfortable moment inducing-advisor and the really fucking great (seriously!) placement committee will certainly let me know once I show up to one of their meetings about preparing for this Fall's market.

How's about the rest of y'all? How are you preparing to ensure that you're going to get the job that I want this year?


Friday, September 5, 2008

Guest Post: Market Value

A second guest post has trickled in. This one's from Anon Philosopher. Enjoy. And keep 'em coming, kids. -- PGOAT

So often, the discussion over philosophy as a profession turns to issues of economics. We now have a way to pinpoint the market value of a variety of philosophical terms. gives an informed estimate of the amount that Google would charge for advertisement-per-click given an input search term into their search engine. Here are some examples:

"Immanuel Kant" $0.27-$0.57 per click
"Descartes Meditations" $.018-$.034 per click
"Philosophical Gourmet" $1.05-$6.60 per click
"Jacques Derrida" "No results Found"
"Philosophy Job Market" "No Results Found"

I think that we have now found our internet market value.

-- Anon Philosopher

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mister, You're on Fire, Mister

I'm trying to ride out the 'Oh fuck!' feeling that invariably overtakes me sometime in the first few weeks of the school year. It usually sets in around the 'Welcome Back (Though You Shouldn't Have Ever Left And Stopped Working) Reception' when the advisor catches my eye, walks over, asks what I did on my summer vacation (kissed four girls at sleepaway camp!), then, chuckling at my response, quickly shifts gears towards my dissertation and begins presumptuously asking for completed work and about meetings while I choke on my drink and spit a little on his shoes.

And while I'm usually able to weather this storm or at least walk it off and convince myself that I'm really not fucked, this 'Oh fuck!' moment is different. Not only did it come even sooner, it came with the force of an ACME one-ton anvil on the head, which is to say, it hit me like a ton of bricks in my face. With the placement committee telling me I'm not going to get a job unless I spent the whole summer crafting an impenetrable job market dossier that would be like Kryptonite to the ability of search committees to not give me a job, the advisor catching me BEFORE the beginning of the year and telling me to get my shit together, and the prospects of my office being flooded by students born in 1990, the 'Oh fuck!' quickly escalated into the 'Oh fuck; I'm fucked; Oh fuck; Shit, I'm fucked!' feeling before the summer even began.

And this time, after a few months of feeling this way, I'm not so sure I can walk it off. Because, you know what? I think I really AM fucked.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Guest Post: An open letter to dude philosophers regarding your crap manners

At last! Our first guest poster! (Um, for such a bunch of whiners, y'all are pretty slow on the guest post submissions. Nothing, before this one. And publishing my email address like that now means that I'm getting a bunch of spam. Not cool, people. Not cool.) Anyway, this one's a doozy. I present to you Random Feminist, with "An open letter to dude philosophers regarding your crap manners." -- PGOAT

Dear dude philosophers,

Can I suggest something? When first meeting a feminist colleague, try not to start with comments like, "I've never really understood what feminist philosophy is supposed to be, anyway." It doesn't make you come across as collegial or interested in our work. It doesn't even come across as your garden-variety intellectual aggression. (We're fine with that. Seriously, we are.) It comes across as asking us to justify the existence of our subdiscipline. And you know what? That's just rude. As it happens, I think the philosophical interest of your JTB/S knows that P/Gettier masturbation ran its course a good 20 years ago, if it was ever interesting in the first place. (Didn't Dretske already solve that problem? Why are you still talking about it?) But despite my opinions about how lame your subdiscipline is, see how I manage to keep this to myself in the first three minutes of meeting you? Isn't that nice of me? Give it a try sometime.


Random Feminist

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Your turn.

The grumblings in the comments have been getting louder for quite a while now. Our collective lack of posting here sucks. You need us. We're failing you.

We know. And we're sorry. And so, I propose that it's time for the improbable story that is this little blog to begin a new chapter. A chapter in which all y'all start pulling your own damn weight around here.

Here's the deal. You write a post about the job market. You email it to me at If I like it, you, gentle reader, will find your ontological status upgraded from mere Loyal Fan to Guest Poster.

Some rules. Because I'm bossy like that.
1. Posts must be pseudonymous. We don't want to know who you are.
2. We reserve the right to be picky. We won't promise to post anything and everything that's sent to us.
3. Posts that PGOAT finds funny are much likelier to be posted.
Okay, go!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Wherein it is established that philosophers do not need to eat.

From comments:
I hate the predominantly instrumental view of philosophy that some readers of this blog have. None of the great philosophers in history had become great with such a mediocre mentality. Do you think that Wittgenstein or Kant or Aristotle were worried about 'job prospects' or 'job markets'?
Yeah, we're all so fucking crass.

And I like your examples, dude. As it happens, Aristotle and Wittgenstein weren't worried about this shit because they were both independently wealthy. As for Kant, before he got the chair at Konigsberg, he was a privatedozent, which is to say, the old-timey version of an adjunct, for a whole lotta years. He got paid per student, and so busted his ass to teach as many students as possible every single semester. So yeah, every semester he was worried about the job market.

I guess the lesson to take away from all this is that if you set me up with a trust fund, I'll stop worrying about the job market.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A little perspective

Apparently the Guardian has an advice column about work that included this little nugget of wisdom:

Q: "Will my philosophy degree work against me in business?"

A: "Being a philosophy graduate student makes you different and quirky; turn that into your unique selling point . . ."

I had it all backwards. I thought being weird made it harder to get a job..

-- Second Suitor

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And that has made all the difference

Lately, there has been this choice looming heavy on my mind. So heavy, in fact, that I've been finding it hard to sleep at night and being whisked away to a special dream land in which tenure-track jobs are as abundant as lollipops on Lollipop Lane. The customary warm glass of milk and spoonful of peanut butter at 3 a.m. haven't been working their dormitive magic; I stay up watching infomercials about cookery devices, exercise machines, and combination stationary bicycles/rotisserie grills that can cook cornish hens in the same amount of time it takes to power-the-grill/pedal off the calories you'll take in from eating that same cornish hen.

These things don't help me in making my choice.

It's like I've come to two roads in a forest. One road being writing posts and drawing comics for the PJMB and thus placating the calls from the teeming masses on the comments board whining for more whining from Team PJMB so that they can call us out for whining when we should be writing dissertations. Let us call this the road more traveled (though people may dispute this particular labeling). The other road involves starting and finishing a new chapter, thus placating my advisor (or preparing for the market, or creating a syllabus). Let us call this the road less traveled.

Let's just say that this post should serve as fair warning that I'm about to get all Robert Frost up in this motherfucker.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday Comics

So, it's been three weeks since the last comic and my promise to return us to our regularly scheduled programming. Yeah, yeah, I'm a liar and we're going to lose our readership cause we don't post enough. Sue me.

(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)


Monday, July 21, 2008

Easily the best philosophical exchange I've read in months.

This is a little behind the times, but I just got around to reading last week's thread from Leiter where folks were discussing whether the olds have an obligation to clear their deadwood asses out at some point.

Now, I believe I've already made my views on the matter quite clear. But check out this awesome exchange between Gil Harman and Tom Hurka:
Harman: "More ageism."

Hurka: "
Ageism? Balls. It's about reducing the huge inequality between an age-cohort that's had it extremely good (those hired in the 1960s) and an age-cohort that are going to find it very tough (those now coming onto the job market). Or do we just say the latter group can go to hell?"
Oh man. So awesome. Hurka--you interested in a little guest blogging? Call me.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Done is good, done well is so much fucking better

There's a bit of discussion going over yon on the Sunday Comics thread about Professor Leiter's advice concerning the upcoming job market. And I think lost in some of the comments regarding the good Professor's past prognostications, and those concerning whether or not the comments questioning the soundness of the advice are serious, is a really goddamn good reason to delay getting the Ph.D this year in the case that the job market is not raining jobs down upon our heads like manna from heaven, but instead burning our hopes and dreams like fire and brimstone rendering our flesh.

And that reason isn't simply the very good one that Ph.D's go stale as if we were crackers left forgotten and open on the shelves because we ran out of peanut butter. That reason (if your attention hasn't been lost in the above ham-fisted simile overload) is this: it's a lot easier to secure another year of funding as an ABD at your home institution (through teaching or dissertation writing fellowships) and wait out a bad market for one year than it is to secure a job at another institution as a newly minted Ph.D in the process running the risk of losing certain avenues of funding and fucking up your chances for earning a living in the future.

Make sense; or am I completely off-base here?


UPDATE: The problem with my initial post was reading too much into the Good Professor's advice. There are independent reasons for delaying the job market search (especially in my own case; hence the projection of my own situation onto everyone else) aside from whether the job market is shitty in the Fall. I'm guilty of conflating those reasons with the advice given by the Good Professor (while remaining neutral as to whether it was good or bad). And, in the comments, I think Mr Zero probably hit the nail on the head:
Your milage [sic] may vary, but your decision to hit the market should depend on your readiness and funding situation, and not on some armchair economist's prognostication about the number of available jobs.
To which I would add: it probably also depends more on completeness of the dissertation, whether or not one is teaching while contemplating the market, and whether completing the dissertation, teaching, or one's job prospects will suffer from reaching before they are ready. And if all these things add up in a certain way so as to impair your chances of getting a job (and the funding is in your favor), independent of the number of jobs in the fall, one should probably stick around their home institution, wait to defend, and suckle away.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday Comics

Anon. 5:58 from the July the 4th thread asks:
"i can has sunday robot cartoon???"
Yes, true believer, you can. Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to hereby suspend my extended hiatus from the Sunday Comics (or, to state that, at the least, I have the best intentions to return to our regularly scheduled programming).

Besides, PGOAT already ruined my vacation anyway. Overachievers, pfft!

(For those who forgot how to make the comic BBBIIIIIGGGG!!!!, just click it.)


Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

According to the Times, our happy days of being surrounded by like-minded lefties up here in our cozy Ivory Tower are numbered. This is because, unlike our radical Boomer predecessors, apparently we young 'uns are basically just a bunch of apathetic Republicans:
Baby boomers, hired in large numbers during a huge expansion in higher education that continued into the ’70s, are being replaced by younger professors who many of the nearly 50 academics interviewed by The New York Times believe are different from their predecessors — less ideologically polarized and more politically moderate.
Wow. Nearly 50 people, eh? That's like totally significant, Times interviewers. Truly a marvel of social scientific research you've given us here. Pft. Whatthefuckever. Kiss my progressive ass.

As PJMB friend RM pointed out to me this afternoon, buried in the article is this gem:
More than 54 percent of full-time faculty members in the United States were older than 50 in 2005, compared with 22.5 percent in 1969.
In other words, the majority of professors are OLDS. Olds who won't retire and give us their damn jobs. But what's more, they're olds who get more crusty and politically conservative with every passing year. And then turn around and blame us for being the reason academia is no longer sufficiently radical for their tastes.

You know what'd be guaranteed to make me radical as all hell? Tenure.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Haters Gon Hate

So, we've had a couple of posts lately that have been critical of Brian Leiter, and I expect we'll have more in the future. Just as we've had posts in the past that have given him props for what we think he's doing right, and just as we'll have more of those in the future too. That's all as it should be.

But in the last couple of weeks, comment threads are getting hijacked by some real haters. Let's call them the No Brians Club. They've obviously got beefs going back to I don't know what, and maybe they've got delusional fantasies about playing out the whole tragic Biggie/Tupac opera, or at least the Hillary Duff/Lindsay Lohan version of it.

Anyway, just a quick word to the No Brians Club: Enough. This blog's for bitching about being a grad student and getting fucked on the job market, not about Leiter. Take it somewhere else.

-- PGS

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Too Smart to Fight, Too Smart to Kill for You

From the Post:
[Danielle Allen] boasts two doctorates, one in classics from Cambridge University and the other in government from Harvard University, and won a $500,000 MacArthur "genius" award at the age of 29. Last year she joined the faculty of the [Institute for Advanced Study]. . . .
God damn. And here I am, going back and forth on whether to put my grade school AV club on my CV.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

Those who know me well know that I'm kind of a judgmental bastard. (Okay, those who don't know me all that well have probably figured it out as well.) Bearing this in mind, prepare yourself, gentle reader, to be ranted at.

Okay, so you know how you feel like punching non-academic people in the throat when they tell you how lucky you are that you get summers off? (Right. It's just me here, with the punching. Pft. Whatev.) Flexible schedule? Sure. Time off? Fuck off. Summers are when I can actually get some damn work done.

So I've been finding myself increasingly enraged lately by the few dipshit academics I come across who actually do take their summers off. This isn't just sour grapes; I think these assholes are giving the rest of us a bad name. You want summers off? Become a fucking elementary school teacher. (Lord knows, those people actually deserve their summers off--I'd lose my shit a week in if I had to spend 6+ hours a day coralling hordes of shrieking proto-persons.) But you wanna be a university professor, earn your fucking keep already and contribute to society. Take a few weeks off like all the other grownups. Then write something that doesn't suck.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

late nite, good times

If it weren't for tipsy, insomniatic nights I'd never finish the dissertation.

[but I'm a little perturbed by the fact the current song on my ipod is called 'little discouraged']

-- Second Suitor

APA website

I just want to give three cheers to the APA. The APA website looks way better than it used to (though you still get to lovely greyish site when you try to log on). And what's this? Paper submissions online and the promise that pretty soon we can even pay our dues online. ahhhh... If the APA can do it, kind of makes you wonder when departments will get around to online submissions.

Calendar Alert:
"Information regarding suite rentals for the upcoming Easter Meeting in Philadelphia will be available beginning August 15. Please contact Linda Smallbrook (lindas [at] at that time"

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Said I've Been Crying, My Tears They Fell Like Rain

Anon 5:19 says, "I want to sleep with one of my committee members. I make excuses to ask them about my work, just so I can go to their office. Is that normal?"

You know, this reminds me of the time my friend Steve--an all-round awesome guy--dared me to do a shot of Tabasco sauce. There was this little voice in the back of my head saying, Don't do the shot, asshole. This is a terrible idea. But I disagreed with the little voice. It seemed like an awesome idea to me.

Well, it turns out the little voice was right. After I did the shot, I spent the next half hour blinded by my own tears, trying to shove an entire loaf of bread into my burning mouth, but failing because I was dry-heaving constantly.

Anon 5:19, I'm going to say this is one of those times when you should listen to the little voice.

-- PGS

Update from PGOAT: The discussion of whether this is evidence of a vast Chick Conspiracy to take over the old boy's club by fucking our way to the top continues over at the Feminist Philosophers blog. My favorite comment:
[L]et me start off by asking whether anyone thinks male students in philosophy are advantaged in any way. (Gasp!)
Gasp! Never!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sittin' down in right field, my glove off, collecting dandelions in my hat

After a year spent on one complete chapter and (approximately) 25 different iterations of the same 2-16 pages of an introductory chapter until finally, having realized the ridiculousness of my approach, I tamed the beast by eschewing minor alterations that were like so much putting of pine-scented-car-trees on a pile of shit in favor of just flushing the 25 iterations, starting with a clean bowl, and writing the thing the way it was supposed to be written from the get-go, it has become increasingly apparent that my precise odds of a successful foray onto the job market will be equal to slim to none.

And, in my better moments of self-deception, of which I am a master after years of philosophical study, I've convinced myself that I am fine with prolonging the stay in graduate school just a little longer; that I should take my new-found approach to the dissertation and finish it instead of futilely wasting my time on applications for the fall market.

But, as I have also become a master of avoiding actual work towards completing the dissertation, I have devised a way to make my possible entering of the job market-shit yield better odds for myself. I'll be forthright, it would require the cooperation of everyone on the market next year, but it's worth a shot:

Hows 'bout we all just agree to not really try all that hard on our applications for next year so as to level the playing field for us mediocre ABD's with no publications to their name?



Thursday, June 12, 2008

My, My, My, I'm so happy, I'm Going to Join a Band

You know, no doubt other disciplines have their caste systems too, since that's just the way of the world. But I wonder if they celebrate them as much as philosophers do?

-- PGS

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Anon. 8:33 points us to the best bedtime story I've seen in a good long time, "Two-Year in Hell," by Richard Dean. An excerpt:
A pudgy, youngish man with curly blond hair walked into the room and set his backpack on a desk by the door. “What’s up?” he asked.

“Raymond’s thinking of applying for a job in Hell,” Patrick answered.

The pudgy man paused, looking at their faces to see if they were joking. After a few seconds, he asked, “Tenure track?”

“Naw,” Raymond answered. “Two-year.”

“Those can be rough. You just get settled in, you have to move again.”

“It could be converted to tenure-track after two years, though, if everything works out.”

Patrick raised his hand and said, “Which of course would mean spending more time in Hell.”

“Still,” the pudgy man said, “Tenure-track is tenure-track.”
Sweet dreams, kids.



Several readers have jumped on Leiter's "Rising Stars" post from this morning:
The Chronicle of Higher Ed used to run a feature each fall on "rising stars" focusing on newly hired junior faculty who were deemed the most promising, as evidenced in large part by the offers they accrued from leading departments. I used to suggest to them junior philosophy faculty on whom to focus, some of whom they ran stories on (such as Joshua Knobe at North Carolina, and Carolina Sartorio at Wisconsin), but now that the Chronicle is out of the business as it were, I'll just note briefly the three young philosophers whose talent and promise resulted in the most offers from leading departments this past year; they are:

Agnes Callard (PhD, Berkeley), AOS: Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Ancient Philosophy. She will be the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.

Matthew Kotzen (PhD, NYU), AOS: Epistemology, Philosophy of Science. He will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Japa Pallikkathayil (PhD, Harvard), AOS: Moral and Political Philosophy. She will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

Particularly of note, apparently, is that none of these superstars have any publications to their name.

I am, as usual, vacillating between charmed and mortified at the collective need to let the fear and loathing hang out for all the world to see. But we aim to please here at PJMB. So have at 'er. What do y'all think?


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's interesting..

Let me preface this by saying that I recognize it's both too early to worry about interviews and this probably shows just how much more I need to do to get ready for the job market.  In response to Philo's question, one commenter said:
"Try to get them to ask some general questions, (what makes this project interesting? relevant? how would you explain this point to a non-specialist?  What kinds of publishable works can be extracted from this?  What comes next? etc.)"
I get why departments would be interested in your future research plans.  I can see how showing that you can frame your dissertation in different ways may further show that you can converse with philosophers outside your area.  But, I hope questions like 'what makes this project interesting or relevant' are mostly intended to get the interview started.  When I think about answering the question I get this image in my head of a 10 year old going, "so what .. so what .. so what .."  

Maybe you're just supposed to use the question as an opportunity  to jump from your project to your research plan.  Hopefully the interesting elements of your project will feature in the stuff you're about to work on.

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And I said Doctor, Doctor

Hopefully at least some of us are coming up on the dissertation defense. In comments, Philo said:
I'm defending my dissertation pretty soon, and I was wondering if any of you out there with some (preferably successful) experience with this might offer some advice. Specifically, what do you recommend the soon-to-be defender do between submitting the diss to the committee and the actual defense?

Many thanks!
I'm guessing several non-dissertation related things or starting the process of working one of the chapters up into a paper. Anyone with actual experience know?

-- Second Suitor

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Changing horses midstream

I just wanted to bump Anon 11:54's question up top:
Hi everybody. I have a question that's very difficult to ask as it must remain super-duper anonymous, for obvious reasons. Has anybody out there ever heard of an ABD student switching directors within the same department? If you have heard of this, do you know the outcome? Can it ever "work"? Before you all start recommending the obvious solutions (be more more flexible...grin and bear it...) let me be very clear that in the case I have in mind, none of these options will work. We're talking end of the rope, last-ditch scenario here (with the one particular faculty member in question--not with others in the same department).
There are a lot of good comments replying to this in the comments to the last post. I'd be a little surprised if changing advisers hurt your job prospects, but it may prolong your stay in grad school.

I do think there's a case to be made for moderate grinning and bearing. Your advisers probably comprise the majority of people who will read your diss which gives you some reason to seriously take their concerns (however good you think they are) into account. And, so long as any non-dissertation related favors etc are more annoyances than hardships, doing the favor may help maintain positive relations.

That said, if you're thinking about this over the summer, you've been working on your diss for at least a year. One significant reason to change now (and this goes for all your advisers, not just your director) is that all your advisers have to sign off on your diss before you can get out of there. If the end of the rope has something to do with your director not being receptive/responsive/respectful of your ideas after a year+, it's just practical to get out of that situation.

-- Second Suitor

Monday, June 2, 2008

Opinions were like kittens.

I've had a fair amount of trouble describing what it's like to try to get ready for the job market while writing the dissertation. It's not really like a race since I'm not competing with anyone to get done. It's not really like a marathon. Don't get me wrong, it definitely takes perseverance. But at least in a marathon you know where you're going and what you're supposed to do next.

Maybe it's like juggling a lot balls in the air only one's really big and heavy (read: Diss). Focus on that one too much and everything else falls by the wayside. But that one's a lot harder to get back up if you let it fall too far.

Eh. I guess I need to keep working on it.

-- Second Suitor

Friday, May 30, 2008

Shockingly, things aren't nearly so bad for football coaches.

From a recent commenter:
I thought [this] might interest readers of this blog, assuming they haven't already read about it. It's the "2007-08 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession". For those who don't want to pore thru the whole thing, here are the "highlights". Enjoy!
An even shorter version of the highlights for you: the profession's fucked.


(ps. Hi, folks at the Feminist Philosophers blog! We love you!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The courtesy of a reach-around?

In the spirit of using this blog for good rather than evil (or at least, for a change, optimism rather than pessimism), I have a proposal: let's give props to people or departments who were actually kind of cool about any part of the job market process.

So, how about it? Any place send you a particularly humane rejection letter? Anyone take you out for an especially nice dinner during a campus visit? Anything else, big or small, that you want to encourage other schools to get on board with? Maybe even something that would be obvious to normal human beings, but that only a handful of philosophers managed to figure out?

We can have a hall of shame discussion later on, if y'all like. Lord knows, there are plenty of horror stories I'd love to tell. But for now, let's focus on the people who deserve some credit for actually doing things right.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How old is too old?

A request for discussion arrives over email:
What are the odds of a 39-40 year old from a top 5 philosophy program securing a TT position at a PhD-granting research university like? I read your blog every day, and I don't recall any discussion of "older candidates" and potential age discrimination with regards to fresh hires on the philosophy market. Your help would be much appreciated!
There's got to be some joke involving the "half plus seven" rule to be made here, but I'm too mired in grading to put the effort in right now. Give the nice man your thoughts, kids.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

And I know because of KRS1

Just a quick followup on yesterday's post. I get a lot of information about conferences, fellowships etc from the google groups: philosophy updates (more US) and f.a. philos (more international). I've also generally found to be pretty good on the conference front, and they have a google calendar that you can add which makes things easy.

If anyone has other sources of good information (including a way to find out about jobs outside of the jfp - thought I'm not sure if that exists) I'd be interested to know what they are.

-- Second Suitor

I don't want to sleep, I just want to keep on

The thing that I (periodically) worry about the most is finishing my PhD without having anything to head on to. I mean that's the worst case scenario, but it'd be pretty bad.

Fortunately, today my google groups reminded me that the fellowship/one year appointment applications are never done. There's a:
Anyway you get the point. By next Mid-May I hope to have something lined up. But, if it hasn't worked out there's still at least some of stuff to apply to now that starts in the fall.

-- Second Suitor

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go where you go and do what you do

I can't work on philosophy for more than 2-3 hours in one place. I get antsy. I need to move. To be productive, I've adopted a strategy of meandering from coffee shop to coffee shop throughout the day. What can I say? Bite size units of time, bite size progress, but work throughout the day.

In an idealistic moment, fast forward to next year when everything's turned out for the better. I have a job... My friends have a job... Everything is right with the world... Can I still coffee shop hop as a professor? The Onion has already pointed out the humor of "T.A. Spotted at Bar" and "Professor Hangs at Coffeehaus" seems dangerously similar.

Worrying about the distant future? Sure, but if all I had to do was figure out how to explain the importance of my dissertation in a few sentences I'd go nuts.

-- Second Suitor

Free Iced Coffee at Dunkin' Donuts Today

I know it's probably too early to start bitching about how much the job market costs, but I've started to trying to get my ducks in a row to cut down on the September/October chaos. Why on earth do transcripts cost so much money?!?! Here's what it takes to process a transcript:

Step 1: Search the number I provide,
Step 2: Print out the transcript,
Step 3: Seal the envelope, and
Step 4: If I ask, sign the envelope.

If I order multiple copies they don't have to repeat step 1, but this doesn't make them cheaper. If I request the transcript online so they can process it during a down time in the work day, it costs more.

Transcript alone don't break the bank, but I'm certainly not looking forward to PGOAT's 2 foot long mail receipt. And I'm not indicting the people that process the transcripts. They're doing what they get paid to do charging what they get told to charge. But for the university, charging closer to actual cost (like $1) just seems like a common courtesy that should be extended to someone who has spent years becoming part of the community at the institution.

-- Second Suitor

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hold your Horses.

Anon. 7:49 says:
PGS, PGOAT, et al. -- time to pass the mantle on this blog? If you're too busy with the dissertation, etc. (as you should be), perhaps someone else can keep the blog going so that folks don't stop checking in altogether?
Yeah, yeah. Vacation's almost over. We'll be back soon.


Monday, May 12, 2008

gimme the loot, gimme the loot

We've all joked about it. At some point you let your class know, "I'm not in it for the money." So now that I'm years and years in and turning my attention to the job market it finally occurred to me to think about how much am I going to get paid. Obviously it's going to depend on the job, but a quick look around shows:

According to Higher Ed. Jobs we're looking at:
Instructor: $39k
New Assistant Prof: $50k

A slightly older one from Academic Keys says:
Instructor: $37k
New Assistant Prof: $48k

Ephilosopher links to a website that says:
"starting salary in a tenure line ranges from $30,000-60,000 depending on many factors."

Now I think all those figures include different types of 'compensation' but they all are looking a lot better than my stipend. I sorta figured that with absolutely no bargaining power [how many of us have the luxury to turn down jobs?] we'd get jerked around a bit more in terms of starting salary. Maybe that comes in earlier with more VAPing and Instructor positions and less assistant professor positions?

I'm smart enough to realize that I'm not going to be working less hard after I get hired, but it's nice to know that I will get paid something.

-- Second Suitor

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm not talking 'bout jet ski accidents

I just finished the final round up of meetings with my advisors for the year. I like my advisors. Putting aside important things like suggestions on further readings or feedback on particular chapters, my advisors have been pretty good at something at least as important. They usually make me feel like I'm not wasting my time. Half the time what I really need is this little pat on the back.

Writing a dissertation is such a solitary process that sometimes it gets hard to tell if what you're talking about is interesting to anyone else. A little praise on an argument/chapter/the whole thing makes it easier to keep going with the whole enterprise. Heck, even a, "This is a really interesting chapter even though you need to make substantial changes to this and that," gets the job done. I have time to fix it, I just want to know that it's worth fixing. I keep waiting to get the dreaded, "This project/chapter/argument is fundamentally misguided," but until that happens I'm just going to keep pressing forward.

Oh, and I realize I tend to start my comments on the papers I'm grading with, "This is a pretty good paper."

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Comics

"Ain't Life Grand?"

Non-comic related note for the true believers: Bear with Team PJMB's sporadic postings during and around this ever-so pleasant time of the year, if y'all would please. We here at the PJMB know that we have y'all's sympathy. And know that we return the sympathy.

Non-comic related note for the trolls: Sorry Team PJMB hasn't given y'all fodder to complain about (including, but not limited to our whiny, bad, out-of-touch- with-the-real-world, privileged attitudes) as of late. We're just too busy being insufferable assholes whilst we complain amongst each other about how incredibly crappy our lives our as philosophy graduate students and how we should just be given jobs cause we earned it after working so hard for so long. But, worry not, I assume we'll be back to imploring people not to feed you or look you directly in the eye lest they incur your snarky wrath on a regular schedule soon.

(Wouldn't you like to know how to make the comic larger?)


Wednesday, April 30, 2008


A quick follow-up on yesterday's thought. Be careful of that sarcastic kid who's been giving you trouble all semester.

At NYU apparently someone left muffins laced with razor blades behind in their philosophy class.

-- Second Suitor

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

They like me, they really really like me

So we're coming up on time for course evaluations. Now I fancy myself a pretty good teacher (I'm sure most of us do) but at this point, the course is essentially over and what really matters is getting decent evals. These are the things that presumably loom large in the job application for teaching colleges. (?)

Probably at this point there's nothing to do. It's too late to
"buy good grades by being easy or generous graders." Some of my professors give a short speech about how these evaluations are actually important to try to get the students to take them seriously. I'm not sure if this helps. At my undergrad institution (and probably here) the average teacher rating was 'above average' so getting kids to focus on how it's important may make them apply some standard to your eval that they aren't to the others. Though, you might get some sympathy high marks?

Who knows? This time I'm planning on asking for comments about the syllabus or clarity of the lectures. Hopefully I'll get something other than just numbers this time.

On a side note, if you can take advantage of the
Dr. Fox Effect.

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Comics

"With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound /
He [knocks] the [listless, dissertation-hating Philbot around]... /
Oh no, [this dissertation's] got to go /
Go go [Soon-to-be-Jaded Dissertator], yeah"

-Adapted liberally from BOC, Godzilla.


(Click on the pic for the full effect)

Update: Anon. 2:22 in comments improves upon my original hijacking of BOC:
"With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound /
They dash our job market hopes on the ground/

Neophyte philosophers crying out in pain/
Please don't make me defend this again!

We pick up a theory and we throw it back down/as we quantify and generalize all over the town"

Oh no, this thesis got to go /
Go go and publish (yeah)
Oh no, there goes my last hope/
Go go and finish!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Noobie's Dilemma

Noobie posted a question a few days ago that brings up an interesting point. Noob said:
"I just got my first tenure track job, and I am very excited (obviously), but the job is by no means a dream job (5-4 teaching load, though the location is great). I found out that we have yearly review up until tenure, which I thought was a bit odd (and this is a serious review process, I have heard of several people who were not reappointed to their tenure track positions in the second, third, and even the fifth, year), but judging from the comments this is done at some places. Anyways, my question was about whether or not a person like me should be on the job market every year? It seems to me that if there is a real possibility that a person may not be reappointed then that person should have a back up plan (and there is no way to judge if one will be repponted. At least two of the cases mentioned above were ones where the department and chair loved the person, but the president over-ruled them and let them go). So it seems to me that I have ample justification for going on the market each year (I feel guilty for doing this for the obvious reasons, like I spent so much time convincing said department that I WANTED to be there)...will this sort of thing be held against me? My chair says 'don't worry about, you'll be reappointed', but I am sure that is what all the chairs say (even though they do not have final say) what is the proper/ethical thing to do here?"
Seems to me that the department doesn't have any standing to complain that you're keeping options open especially before they commit to keeping you... but who knows?

--Second Suitor