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Monday, December 26, 2005

The competition

I'm now back in my apartment for some 18 hours before heading out to the MLA. And damn, I've got a lot to do in that time!

In the midst of the 10 days' worth of mail that I found piled up on my floor were, predictably, some rejection letters for various positions I'd applied for. Unpredictably, at least to me, were the numbers of applications some of those schools claim to have received: one stated that the department had received "more than one hundred and forty," and another "one hundred and eighty-five" applications.

Holy shit! Other rejection letters I've received--both this year and last--have only cited figures around 80-100.

Is this really what the job market is like? Neither of these schools is exactly a Harvard or a Stanford; both are R1s, but their doctoral programs aren't top tier, and neither one is located in a fabulously central or exciting place (the cities/towns in question are definitely pleasant, but not somewhere you'd sit around dreaming about or planning a two-career move to).

I guess, then, that I should feel lucky that I made the cut at the schools I did--especially considering that there are five other INRU candidates in my field on the market this year. (And yes, you read that correctly: there are six of us within a year or two of each other ALL APPLYING FOR THE SAME THIRTY-ODD JOBS. Kill me now.)

Anyway--I doubt that I'll be blogging from the MLA (no free wireless in my hotel), but I promise a report when I emerge. Best wishes to everyone else interviewing, presenting, or otherwise braving the scholarly seas--


link | posted by La Lecturess at 8:35 PM |


11 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Virago commented at 9:51 PM~  

Good luck, Lecturess!!

Blogger Professor B commented at 11:45 PM~  

This sounds familiar. The year I went out, I knew 8 folks from my department also interviewing...and i was told that the position I got received almost 300 applications. There are just way more PhD's than positions - but you sound like you're doing great. Good luck!

Blogger Ianqui commented at 9:12 AM~  

Ugh. But I guess I'm not surprised. In my very small field we usually get 50-60, so I really wouldn't be surprised if a field like literature or philosophy had 2 or 3 times that.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 10:47 AM~  

Prof B--

Unless I'm mistaken, the positions you interview for aren't as specialized as they are in lit (and they also pay a whole hell of a lot better!), so that may explain it. As I understand it, you apply for a job "in CE," not in some super-specialized area of CE. Which would be like applying for a job in "British Literature" or "American Literature," rather than a 75-100 year period or a particular genre of same.

Or am I wrong?

Blogger timna commented at 11:41 AM~  

last year our cc had 400 applications for a full-time English position. I don't know how many were qualified, but even if half were, those numbers make the application process seem somewhat lottery-like.

Blogger Professor B commented at 6:32 PM~  

Hi Lecturess,

This is probably true - The positions are less specialized, though they are increasingly becoming so, as everyone is attempting to hop on the hot research topics, i.e. anything with 'bio' or 'nano' in the title.

It also very much depends on the institution. The year that I went out, the institution where I landed was just going after junior faculty, with no preference as to area (we are building the dept., so the diversity is good). This year we are much more tailored in our search, and so the search is much narrower.

This is all countered by the fact that there are only about 200 accredited engineering programs in the US, and en even smaller number of those that are PhD-granting. At least you have the advantage that almost universities have an English Department! ;-)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 8:15 AM~  

Hi Lecturess,

I had a full time appointment in an English department at a well respected 'East Coast' University (and I don't even have a Ph.D. in a field in the Humanities). I quit because I decided I had enough bullshit and was tired of working with morons. Do you want my job? I'll check back here to see your response.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 8:15 AM~  

P.S. The morons weren't the students.

Blogger Nels commented at 2:58 PM~  

A hundred or so applicants is not unusual. Our university is looking for someone in American Lit with what were thought to be specific guidelines and received over 300 applications. Yep, three hundred. Narrowing that down to 15 to interview at MLA was fun.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 7:51 PM~  

Anon:
Well, I have a full-time position (albeit not t-t, and with a heavy teaching load), with exceptionally good benefits and reasonably good pay, at an R1 in a major Eastern metropolis. So I'd say no. But thanks!

Nels:
Wow! I'm guessing that the field you were hiring in (or could be generously interpreted to be hiring in, by a creative-minded candidate) is probably more popular than the field I work in, but that's a huge number by any account. And quite sobering.

Blogger Sfrajett commented at 1:04 AM~  

I interviewed at Swarthmore once in the mid-nineties, and was told they had gotten over 900 applications for that job. 900! It was a wide open, cattle-call kind of a search, not narrowed down by period or field, and vaguely interested in sexuality studies. I was supposed to feel honored just to have gotten an interview. Ha! But I bet they've learned to narrow down their ads since then.

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