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.



Anonymous said...


It's all for the best, really. A couple years back, my adviser pulled the plug on me on Nov. 1. I found out via the department secretary when I went to her to drop off my first round of applications.

I was floored, and my life was hell for awhile. I had racked up debt, made promises to my fiance, and now my life was in limbo.

But it passed quickly. There was a day a week later that was warm and sunny. I walked and walked and wound up walking on air. My adviser was right. It was so obvious. I wasn't ready, no matter what I had said to myself and others about this being the year. The next year was a totally different story. I got a TT job.

If there's doubt about your readiness, you're not ready. Let the relief wash over you and think about how much you can do in the coming year.

Anonymous said...

"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"

I hope your dissertation is better-written!

Anonymous said...

Aww..I feel like I could have written this post! I'm in an almost identical situation and I feel exactly the same way. First of all, the good(ish) news is that if you don't get a job this year, the readers of PJMB will be really lucky that you're still here to carry on!

Second of all, I totally sympathize with the weird, I'm-sort-of-not-totally-unhappy-about-this feeling. It's like the opposite of sour grapes. I just found out that "sour grapes" comes from an Aesop fable (who knew!?) where the fox is like "well I can't reach those grapes, but they're probably sour anyway..." But this feeling is more like "well, I can't reach those grapes, but it's not my fault because somebody (my idiot advisor) cut off my legs...but I guess they'll grow back..." It's the reassuring feeling of having an excuse that you have no control over, so you don't have to worry about your own competence.

Of course, I ALSO worry sometimes that this feeling is uncomfortably similar to the whole "I was just following orders" excuse, where you de-humanize yourself in order to avoid responsibility. But even so I don't see how you can go on the market without a letter from your advisor. So I really do think it's out of my control. I want to avoid culpability AND avoid being a "little Eichman (sp?)."

PS, foxes OBVIOUSLY do not eat grapes. wtf?

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people who comment on this blog get all stuffy about "well, sounds like you're not really ready to go on the market this year, you were a fool to consider trying." Remember, a lot of them are on the market and it's to their advantage to keep the competition off.

In any case, it's not a binary opposition to go or not to go. It's a gradation: how much do you go on the market? If you're ABD and can get letters of reference, you can go on the market, AT LEAST SELECTIVELY. I think it's to your advantage to apply as soon as you can, even if it's just to a half dozen schools. Write some letters, even if they aren't very good, because it gives you practice so you can write better letters next year. Try to get an interview or two, again for practice at least. And if you don't get any interviews, you can say it's no reflection on you, you didn't send out many applications after all. Make a rule, for example: only apply if the job ad explicitly says ABDs are welcome to apply. Pick schools in areas you'd like to live. Don't target any of your dream schools, or what you'd consider bottom-feeders, etc. It can't hurt to start with a limited search. In addition to experience, you'll start to get a sense of what your options are going to be in the future (what type of schools show some interest, and which ones don't).

Anonymous said...

Nomination for Weirdest Job Ad:

"Deep Springs College offers semester appointments for short-term professors in all disciplines for the 2009-2010 academic year.
A highly selective college located in an isolated California desert valley, Deep Springs educates 26 young men for a life of service to humanity through labor, self-governance, and a rigorous liberal arts curriculum."

Didn't I read about this place somewhere? The New Yorker, maybe?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't you just do a 'selective' attempt at the job market and target 10-20 jobs you might possibly have a shot at?

What could you teach that would be absolutely unhelpful on the job market? Aesthetics? Phil Religion?

Anonymous said...

Think of it as your wake up. Get the dis done, get some papers out, present at some conferences, enjoy you last real years as a grad student. Because if you do get a job, it will be harder than grad school and you will learn about the dreaded "assessment" nazi and curriculum committees and a whole host of stupid shit that you shouldn't have to do, but will have to do in order to get tenure.

Not that I am upset at my job. But really, enjoy this last bit of time in your life that you will really have the opportunity to research exactly what you want and write about it. Do it and enjoy and be ready for the market full force next year.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:42 wrote: "Not that I am upset at my job. But really, enjoy this last bit of time in your life that you will really have the opportunity to research exactly what you want and write about it."

Umm, NO! It usually is the other way around. Grad school is when you aren't entirely sure what you want to write about because you aren't entirely sure about the breadth and depth of your field. Grad school is when you write on what your advisor is doing because he is super famous and you'll get five co-authored papers out of it. Grad school is when you write stuff or cobble together stuff already written so you can get the fuck out of grad school. Grad school is when someone tells you to write a 30 page paper on Thomas Reid and you do it because you have to do it not because you want to do it. Grad school is when you write on Williamson because Williamson shit is hot and you need to publish not because you think it is any good or coherent. If you are looking for intellectual freedom, stay the fuck away from grad school.

Once you are out, you answer to no one. Your stuff is your stuff and is as bad or good as you are. Hell, once you get tenure, you can do whatever the fuck you want. I don't care if you are rocking a 5-5 load in the Arctic Cirlce, if you got tenure, you can give philosophy the finger and start working on your all-egg cookbook. That, my friends, is freedom. Grad School is the fucking Cave. Step out into the sunlight!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Anon 10:42, especially the second part.

Every single person I have known who went out on the market "selectively" reported that the difference in work load and stress between applying selectively and applying full-on was negligible.

Anonymous said...

Going on the market "selectively" is the stupidest, crappiest advice you can give or receive.

if you are ready to go on the market, do it full bore. if you are not, why bother with all the work, stress, and misery to apply selectively? what is supposed to be the advantage of this?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with 10:42 and 5:36 slightly. The workload difference is, indeed, negligible between applying selectively and fully going out. Particularly in this year when there are not all that many jobs to begin with...

However, it made a *huge* difference to my frame of mind last year to know that I was merely trying it out, so to speak. At the end of the day, my TAship was always sitting there to support me, should I want it. This year, not only is that safety net not there, but I may actually have to move to the backwaters of Montana should that be the best offer I get.

Anonymous said...

I am a new TT (SLAC you never heard of). We were just given the go-ahead to "write the job description" for a new line in our PHI department - a description that may-or-may-not run soon depending on forces of nature synchronizing in some mysterious manner.

So, what's the hangup? Thus says the dean "will there even be enough applicants for the job?"

Serious. That's how radically different worlds can be at times.

I ended up betting him lunch that we could get someone great, and that if I lost the bet he wouldn't have to ever take anything I said seriously ever again.

If the job goes out, don't let me down, peeps! I'm used to not being taken seriously. But lunch I cannot afford.

Anonymous said...

What's "alternative epistemology" (JFP #543)? Does anybody know?

Anonymous said...

What's "alternative epistemology" (JFP #543)? Does anybody know?

No, that's skepticism.


Philosophy Prof said...

ANON 5:48 is right, at least with respect to a lot of cases. For many people, much of the stress of the job market is a function of how invested we are in the outcome. If a person can have a year in which they apply selectively and aren't desperate for any particular outcome, for example if they are already tt or if they are a graduate student with an extra year of funding, then the workload is less, the investment is _much_ less and the corresponding stress and frustration and all-consuming-ness of the process are lessened. Of course, if ANONS 10:42, 5:36 and 9:09 have in mind an applicant who would go on the market selectively even though he/she had no other prospects, the stress might be the same, and indeed it might even be more! But such an applicant would be foolish. Surely the original questions about selectively going on the market were not put by foolish applicants only, though ANON 9:09 seems to like to interpret people as foolish and then feel the oozy rush of condescension. A true philosopher!

Anonymous said...

I went out selectively last year. I applied to 13 jobs in places I'd like to live. I got some interviews at the APA and some phone interviews, but no on campus interviews.

This year I am getting my material together and it is MUCH easier. I have the templates for my letters, which have already been read by a bunch of people. My CV is set up close to the way I want it. I have a "teaching statement" written, my evals organized, my system for keeping track of my applications is set up. Plus, I have the experience of APA interviews under my belt.

In short, going out selectively last year may not have been easy, but it is making this year, in which more is at stake, a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

"Alternative epistemology": I would guess that this means tendencies in epistemology which are not usually taught in analytic departments -- feminist and other approaches. But this is only a guess -- I have never actually heard the term before.

"Theoretical philosophy" (from another thread, another ad): this term is sometimes used in Europe to refer to epistemology, metaphysics, etc. (as opposed to ethics, etc.) -- maybe they are using the term in this sense?

Anonymous said...

2:47 gets it. Why do so many others not? Perhaps they're trying to keep the competition out of the market. Fuck 'em. I'm on the market, and I say "the more the merrier."