Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Academic Hell Week

As part of their War on Christmas, liberal academic intellectuals plot their major hiring interview barrages for big conventions in the week between Christmas and New Years -- this week.

The premise is that all the graduate students who have recently, or will soon, pry a PhD from their advisors' hands send out scores of job application packets in the Fall, then all the schools choose those they'd most like to toruture and request an interview at the big holiday conference in thier field. The Modern Language Association Convention, where my wife's friends go to suffer, is being held in Washington D.C. this year. Many of my friends have their Geneva Accord rights violated at the Eastern American Philosophical Association Conference, this year in New York.

While there, the schools shove all the prospects in small cages, then cut off their beaks so they don't injure the other merchandise. Or perhaps that was a flashback. Theoretically, this is all efficient since they don't have to fly a bunch of squrirrely, likely to to set off some Homeland Security watch list, graduate students and recent graduate students, all over the place -- everyone just meets in the big hall and does this kind of speed-dating for nerds thing.

Our friends: Su Weixing, Sara Warner (check out her website; modern nerds are nerds in multiple categories!), and Kristen Abbey all got the short stick and have to go to Washington to experience the Cheney special. Gary Bartlett at least doesn't have to travel too far, but I hear that next year they're going to drop the charade and just hold the Eastern APA in Gitmo.

College teaching doesn't pay as well as other long, slow, awful degree processes, but setting your own hours, working on something interesting, and long summer "research" breaks seem more than enough to sucker lots of people into trying to enter the field. But, the truly bad part, I think, is how little control one has over where one will live. You're pretty much stuck with the places that were available when you got out -- and all too often that seems to be here.

Gary actually managed to score interviews for places on both coasts (and, er, there...) so mucho congrats!

1 comment:

Rick Anderson said...

I'm watching this whole process first hand at the MLA. I have to say your description is dead on. One thing to note about this conference is that it's spread across several different hotels, these hotels are often broken into towers. The itnerviews are done in one of these many disparate locations. The shuttles only take people to the closest of the hotels. There used to be a list of all the hotel phone numbers on the website, but those were removed.

Also, DC is much nicer than the MLA. My friends, however, do not get to enjoy it.