Scabs

No, this isn't a post about the John Stewart/Steven Colbert/Jay Leno Working While There's a Writer's Strike kind, but the sort you find yourself picking at.

I was wondering, earlier today, about whether there was a cyclical nature to the blogging world: the circle of blogging complaint, if you will. Or maybe some sort of bizarre social convention I don't get, like not wearing white after Labor Day, that tells us secretly not to complain about job-market stuff during certain times of the year. Shouldn't there be an academic version of a groundhog, after all, that tells us it's six more months of the winter of our discontent? I'm temporarily passing on the joke about it being a grad student seeing their advisor's shadow, but it's only because I don't want any grad students reading this to feel compared to a rodent.

I just recently received the rejection letter from the job I knew (but didn't KNOW) I'd been rejected for. It arrived months after I'd been told I'd hear, and I'm sitting here tonight reading it over and over again while looking outside at the icy streets outside. And I'm attaching the phrase "long distance" to all sorts of atypical things to see if the taste of it ruins: "long distance Christmas," "long distance great uncle," "long distance debt consolidation." So far, I haven't found a phrase that is made truly better by its addition.

We're in the beginning stages of our candidate searches here, and after having only read some letters and seen a teaching demonstration, I think I may be at odds with my department. Maybe it's because I hate the touchy-feely (and have ever since 9th grade when my English teacher thought making us sit on the floor Indian-style would make us more responsive to each other's writing (it didn't - 9th grade poetry is bad no matter where you sit). And I hate teaching by buzz-word as much as I hated making policy by buzz-word in the corporate world. So a teaching demonstration where I'm fairly certain I didn't see the person teaching actually do anything but put the students into groups and let them argue over whose clumsy use of a concept was the least offensive leaves me a little cold. Yes, yes, "active integrative" blah blah.

I'd be completely growly but "Sad Professor" by R.E.M. just came on the MP3 player, and you can only laugh at that kind of musical irony.

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Maggie said...

*If* I understand you, I think you're right: there is definitely something cyclical to job market complaints. And, I would add, something superstitious.

For example, August - November typically see a lot of noisy handwringing about the market in the blogosphere. Lots of posts about "to hunt or not to hunt", where one is hunting (in vague terms), why one is hunting, etc. The superstitious part, I think, is that there are also a lot of posts about how TERRIBLE the market is, and how NO ONE gets jobs... I think this is a kind of psychic protection against probably rejection.

Anyway, in December, it seems, all of that kind of dies down as the actual interviewing (or not) and letter receiving (or not) sets in. By January, it's nothing but crickets. Maybe because the people who actually have interviews don't want to jinx them, and those who don't are licking their wounds.

Anyway, if that's what you're talking about, I agree. If not, please ignore the above comment.

But the Sad Professor thing cracked me up.

February 8, 2008 at 7:59 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

That's pretty much what I was talking about. It was a long way to go for me to justify complaining about job searches after the appointed time, I guess.

If I had the blog to do over again, I think I'd title it "Everyone Hates a Sad Professor" but, in blogging at least, I don't hate where I wound up.

February 8, 2008 at 10:46 AM
Maggie said...

What you should recognize, of course, is that as an academic -- no, make that as The Sad Professor-- you have the god-given right to complain about anything at any time you see fit. Especially in front of a captive audience. So pray continue with your complaints. Perhaps I'll join in on my own blog...

February 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM