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.