Thursday, February 21, 2008

The illusion of control.

I've long been aware of my habit of using domestic mundanities for procrastinatory purposes. (My bathroom is never so clean as when I've got a stack of grading that needs finishing.) But the job market is turning this into a whole 'nother thing. I spent the better part of last night tackling mountains of laundry and ironing and mending. I dropped off a bunch of dry cleaning this morning. And I'm all excited about my big plans to take all my knives in to get sharpened tomorrow.

I've realized that this is all a pathetic attempt to pretend that I've got some degree of control over my life right now. I was commiserating with PGS about this, and he told me that last year around this time his officemate started making a bunch of doctor's appointments to deal with the random aches and pains she'd been putting up with for a long time. Apparently she said she was doing it because she felt like her body was the only thing she had any control over.

Great idea. Maybe I'll get my teeth cleaned or something.


Anonymous said...

Heh, been there. I eventually had to take up a hobby that involves making stuff with my hands (woodworking) to keep me occupied instead of jittering around aimlessly, cleaning my apartment obsessively, et cet. It's satisfying and calming in a way I seriously needed to be calmed down after being poleaxed on the market last year because things are finished when they are finished, not subject to revisiting and revising and angsting over like e.g. my dissertation.

Also now for the first time in the last ten years I have enough bookshelves.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side, at least you're doing something productive as avoidance. I'm currently sitting in my carrel watching old episodes of MTV's show "Made". Honestly, not even that entertaining.

Anonymous said...

How to take control:
1) Get really good at Halo 3.
2) Become at least a Commander with a skill level of 35.
3) Purchase a new Xbox live account.
4) Beat the shit out of, i.e., pwn, all the noobs with your newly acquired noob skill level.

This will work until every asshole on Xbox live pulls the same shit.

Wait. What? Philosophy? Right...

Anonymous said...

"has anyone produced or posted a consolidated list of Ph.D. programs which includes the percentage of their recent graduates that have ended up with tenure track positions?"

PGOAT and PGS: If you're looking for ways to procrastinate, maybe you could start a thread listing things like this ("service to the community") that would allow the rest of us to procrastinate, by making useful lists like this. Then you'd be helping three groups: yourselves, other procrastinators, and people who could benefit from said lists.

Anonymous said...

To name names for name-naming's sake (and in the hopes that someone from said school will reply):

Auburn has possible positions "temporary instructors" which "may be reappointed for up to five years" that pay $30,000 for a 4-4 load. That is really shit wages even in today's market. So I checked the Chronicle's AAUP stats this morning while returning to the train wreck that is JFP 177. Guess which school in Alabama pays the highest salaries to Assistant Professors? You guessed it, Auburn, at $61,700. They pay lecturers on average $34,000, whereas at Alabama-Birmingham the gap is $59,900 to $49,100. It's hard not to conclude that they're paying good Assistant Prof salaries at the expense of lecturers -- and perhaps by turning more TT positions into "temporary" jobs lasting up to 6 years as a way of artificially inflating their salaries for TT folks.

Good work if you can get a TT slot.

Anonymous said...

I see Ashland U. says that "applications should include a complete CV. . . " and I've seen the same locution in other ads.

Is there anyone out there who routinely sends an incomplete CV unless requested otherwise?

I'd also ask whether anyone on a SC (or SG) ever received an incomplete CV, but that's problematic. Maybe you've gotten CVs without information you'd like to see, but that doesn't mean the applicant knew it was incomplete (and could have done better with a proper prompt in the job ad). Maybe it was a clerical error, or the applicant didn't know better, or maybe it was a strategic decision.

I'm also curious what essential information might be left off CVs to motivate committees to say something so silly. Do they get CVs that don't include the candidate's name or a method of contacting them? Maybe they're looking for something that many people view as optional, like a list of references, and don't realize they need to specify.

Anonymous said...

Or instead of procrastinating, get control back of your dissertaion and get 'er done. Losers! (And yes, you deserve to be called that, because that's how you're coming across. Pathetic.)

Anonymous said...

Auburn has been doing this for a long time: I was applying for jobs in 2003, and here is the line from their ad in JFP 157:

"*22, *23. AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Auburn, AL....Course load is 4
classes per semester. Salary is $26,000. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. We strongly prefer applicants with Ph.D.s in philosophy."

So, in the last five years they have increased the amount 4 grand.

What I love so much about this exploitive job is that they really want to exploit "women and minorities." It is the next freaking line. Outstanding!!!

Go Tigers!

(ABDs considered).

Anonymous said...

re: in/complete cv's.

I've looked at a bunch of cv's over the past several years. I wonder if the worry isn't stuff like this:

1. I've heard of people sending cv's that list only "representative publications." One reason sometimes given for doing this is that the shorter list of pubs makes the cv seem less intimidating to smaller, teaching-oriented departments.

Alternatively, this practice can also be used to suggest that you've got more pubs than you've actually got -- list two of your pubs as "representative" when in fact you've got only three to speak of. I know, but how would that work? Some people think if they can just get their foot in the door, etc.

2. Some people fail to distinguish refereed from non-refereed publications and presentations on the cv's.

3. Some people list APA presentations without indicating whether they're on the main program (refereed) or the group program (often invited), or even if they're just commenting.

Anonymous said...


The contrast between "short CV" and "complete CV" is not at all unusual. You're looking for things to complain about.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Someone (anon 7:45) who uses the phrase "get 'er done" just called me a loser. I have sunk very low indeed.

Anonymous said...

6:26: Some CVs, especially those of people in fields other than philosophy, are extremely long. Because of this sometimes people ask only for an abbreviated CV. My guess is that job ads that ask for a complete CV are emphasizing that the abbreviated version is not what they want. I.e you should include details of every conference presentation, etc. It's probably a form of words that is standard for every academic position advertised at that school.

Anonymous said...

I've learned a lot about abbreviated CVs. Thanks, folks.

Naively, I only have one version of my CV.

Anonymous said...

Well, you all know that you're in trouble if you start to self-destruct (via procrastination, poor attitudes, etc.) no matter what adversity you're facing. And even PGS admitted to being "pathetic" in the original blog post.

So maybe you can use the "loser" name-calling to your advantage: get mad (at yourself, your situation, your critics, etc.), and get back to your work, which is really the only thing you have control over.

Don't roll over and die. Instead, take a day off, go to a museum/park/beach, have a hot dog from a street vendor, and then start over again. Shake off the bad experiences with the APA, JFP, etc., and get back to doing what you do best.

Anonymous said...

John Perry has a terrific little website on this sort of thing, what he calls "structured procrastination":

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion to lighten our burdens. Let us make a list here in the comments section of all the unreasonable, outrageous, burdensome, and unwarranted requirements/expectations departments list for one year positions. Like one college wants you to coach the Ethics Bowl Team. Now, I speak out of ignorance here, but I assume that this requires a lot of extra time spent traveling to events, etc. Unless there's some serious teaching release, this is quite burdensome. They seem to have forgotten that no sooner than you've moved to town, found the grocery store, unpacked your office, and prepped mostly new courses, you now have to go back on the job market and begin sending out application material like mad.

Thomas D. Carroll said...

what i really want to do is buy a nintendo wii and waste away the rest of the semester playing video games. ok, not exactly, but there is something to that idea...

in addition to the idea of taking a quality day off, i recommend exercising regularly. [gotta work on this one myself, but bear with me.] in the past when i've been stressed the hell out by studies, job search, etc., i've known that feeling you describe of not being in control of your life. as far as exercise goes, there are many good ways to do, but i am thinking here primarily of activities like running, hiking or cycling. each of these activities involves setting and achieving goals. these things you can control, and as an added bonus, exercise helps with managing stress.

Anonymous said...

Question: does this blog really help anyone feel better or do better professionally? The market is what it is. You either publish or get out. Sorry, but that's about the extent of it, and no complaining or commiserating will change it for any of us...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ February 22, 2008 6:02 PM, and everyone else who bitches about those who bitch on this blog: why don't you just aim your browser elsewhere?

And actually, this blog makes me feel worse at least half the time, since it provides a constant reality check, tearing down the wall of ignorance and naivety that I've spent so long unknowingly erecting for so many years.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I'm all about the ridiculous requests. My favorite horror story (I'm sorry it's vague, it's due to a friend who graduated quite a few years before me) was something like a 4-4... where you also had to be the admin assistant.

C'mon! Even if we don't have jobs and have to take crap positions like this - this is the fun commiseration!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:02, I did not find your post particularly helpful, professionally.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't imagine what it must be like to prefer cleaning one's bathroom to grading. And I really don't enjoy grading. I'd be much more likely to pull out my grading to avoid having to clean.

Anonymous said...

I find there's something oddly comforting about this blog. Furthermore, some of the discussions were actually helpful when I was sending out my application packet, since a couple of things that I had to make decisions about were discussed (I forget what they were now). Also, I found the discussion of women in philosophy important and eye-opening.

Anonymous said...

Along with ridiculous or unreasonable expectations of one year positions, another thing we can make a list of is the very optimistic (naive) AOS/AOC combinations that are sometimes mentioned for one year positions. They want someone to teach just those classes next year and no one else need bother. Is the job market that glutted that departments can be that choosy about sabbatical replacement temps?

Anonymous said...

"Is the job market that glutted that departments can be that choosy about sabbatical replacement temps?"

As someone who's been a sabbatical replacement, I can attest that what departments are looking for is very simple: someone who can teach the courses that the person on leave normally would teach, no matter how odd the courses individually or disconnected the combination. They want someone who'll come in, be quiet, not make a stink.

My advice (departments will hate me for this perhaps) is apply even if you're not qualified to teach all those courses, PROVIDED that you're willing to teach all and only what you want, and in whatever way they want them taught. None of this "well that doesn't fit with my pedagogy" or "but students would come out of that course knowing nothing". Just do it.

If they want a really odd combination of courses (two sections of informal logic, Buddhist ethics, and American pragmatism) they might not find anyone who's competent to teach them all. It doesn't matter. You'll only be teaching for one year, so it's irrelevant whether you're qualified. You just need to be willing to do it. Now if they find someone who actually is qualified to teach all those courses, they'll hire him, but if none of the applicants are qualified, they've got to hire someone, so anyone will do. Try not to drool too much. It's not like they'll cancel the search and make the prof wait another year until they can find a suitable replacement.

In short, it has nothing to do with an excess of supply. If such departments do reliably find suitable replacements, then THAT would be an indication there are too many of us on the market.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:07,

At first I thought there might be some validity in your complaint that "You're looking for things to complain about." But the more I think about it, I realize the reason for my initial frustration with so many job ads: people actually spend a lot of time on them, getting the wording just right. Now, admittedly, it appears that at many schools deans step in with pro forma language, but at many schools the language of these ads reflects serious negotiation between different camps within the department and differing views of pedagogy and scholarship. And certainly job candidates parse the living shit out of the ads, because we have so little to go on in putting together our application materials.

So schools that seem careless or thoughtless in the ads they do put out do deserve to be called out for it, in the hopes that they or other schools might do a more responsible job in the future.

There's an underlying issue in many of the complaints on this blog. Academics are supposed to be professionals, and they are supposed to be accountable for their actions and decisions. But a lot of people figure that once they get on the TT, or get tenured, or become chair or dean, that that's payback for all their hard work and the shit they took when they were coming up, and everyone else can damn well adapt to them now, catch their mistakes, and above all, never fucking call them out for anything. And people like that, especially the ones who teach about or mouth off about ethics and social justice all the while (common in philosophy), really need to get hit in the head with a shovel. I'm just calling it like I see it, man.