The following is a rejection letter I recently received for a tenure-track position in English literature, which I quote at length to illustrate the current state of the academic job market from the applicant’s perspective:
Dear Christopher Stampone:
Thank you for your interest in employment with [X]. There were many highly qualified applicants who applied for the position of ASSISTANT/ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR 10 MONTHS position and our decision was very difficult. Although your background is impressive, we have selected a candidate whose qualifications most closely match our job requirements. . . . Please accept our best wishes for success in your job search endeavors.
Clearly, the school’s statement about my “impressive background” is disingenuous because the “Search Committee” of the “<department> Department” failed to complete the appropriate spaces in their rejection form. I am quite convinced that they do not really think I am “impressive” since every applicant has an “impressive” background by default. The position went to someone with unspecified “qualifications” that supersede my own. I might ask questions but I doubt “Search Committee” would respond to my queries.
Such poorly-written and thoughtless rejection letters—which, as I discovered, are quite common in academia—reveal the reality of the HR-driven job application process. This process is broken—and we need to fix it.
Continue reading The Job Application Process in Higher Education is Broken—and We Need to Fix It
Reflections, questions, & forum for response.
The dawn of another academic year always comes with a slew of first year Teaching Assistants. Graduate students must now stand up in front of the classroom and, if any of them are like me, spend more time reflecting on their own learning processes than ever before in their academic life. Like so many gradate TAs I don’t have the option to choose which courses or syllabus to teach, but rather am assigned courses that vary between English Composition 100 and Intro to Literature. I’m not complaining as each opportunity provides the space to learn a new topic that otherwise might have slipped my academic history.
Continue reading What does a Romantic Classroom Look Like?
The debate about the role of social media in academia that took over my Twitter feed a few weeks ago (read about it in The Guardian and in Forbes) has prompted me to think about the role of blogging as well, particularly for graduate students, who are perhaps especially concerned about being seen as “serious academics.”
Continue reading Why We Blog
After an arduous year one of grad school I have come out alive. In anxious preparation for year two a few good friends and myself set quite the task this summer to read Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit that haunted us all year. Given the complexity and reputation of the great man himself I find our “Adventures in Hegel” will entertain readers on how we successfully managed reading his “Preface” to the book. What follows is the affective and intellectual journey myself and friends Katy and Liz have embarked upon.
In lieu of actually trying to explain Hegelian thought or even relay my precise thoughts on the preface I provide some useful tactics we employed to “mastering”, well, getting through difficult texts such as Hegel. Now at the end of year one of graduate studies I can attest the most common nerve-racking question from new grad students to be “How do I read X?” Whether long novels, poetry, images, and of course theory/philosophy everyone has that one form they consider impenetrable to decipher. My fellow book club interlocutors agreed our reading of Hegel to be extremely enlightening and cleared up many conceptual gaps. It does help we’re all good friends but we actually had a great afternoon discussing Hegel? It was fun, and not soul-crushingly dark and intimidating? But how?! Our satisfaction shows such texts are indeed very approachable with just the right attitude.
Continue reading Preface to Graduate School: Reading Hegel or learning how to read again
This post is part of the “Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures” series, a collaborative endeavor by NGSC bloggers Deven Parker, Grace Rexroth, and Conny Fasshauer, all Romanticist graduate students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drawing on our collective experiences organizing guest lectures at our university, our aim for this series is to offer advice and tips for NGSC readers hosting visitors at their institutions or attending one of these events.
“Networking” is a word I dread more than laundry day.
Because I wandered through the corporate world for several years before finally deciding to go to grad school, the term “networking” conjures up myriad awkward experiences – themed cocktail parties, company logos, uncomfortable seminars where strangers assess the grip of your handshake…it’s not my idea of a fun Friday night.
With English department sizes shrinking, enrollment numbers dropping, and an ever diminishing job market (thanks NY Times op-ed), networking is arguably a skill we need now more than ever. So, in addition to preparing for comps and formulating a prospectus, “networking” has joined the inner sanctum of my PhD goal list. Practically speaking, this means that, in addition to attending conferences (those hallowed networking meccas), I actively seek opportunities for building relationships in the field. “But how does one go about ‘networking’ outside of a conference?” you may ask. The glib answer: become a chauffeur.
Continue reading A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, II: Networking or “Relationship-Building” on the Road. Literally.
This post is part of the “Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures” series, a collaborative endeavor by NGSC bloggers Deven Parker, Grace Rexroth, and Conny Fasshauer, all Romanticist graduate students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drawing on our collective experiences organizing guest lectures at our university, our aim for this series to offer advice and tips for NGSC readers hosting visitors at their institutions or attending one of these events. See Grace’s post on transportation as a networking opportunity, and Conny’s post on making the most of the guest’s visit.
Hosting visiting scholars for talks or seminars at your institution can be a wonderful thing. As many NGSC bloggers have recently discussed – like Jacob Leveton in his post about the importance of community building – forming scholarly networks beyond your university not only leads to new friendships but also to opportunities to receive support and guidance in your scholarly endeavors beyond your usual advisors. If you’re a regular reader or contributor to the NGSC blog, I’m sure I don’t need to further extol the benefits of extra-institutional support networks and friendships. That being said, as my contribution to this collaborative series, I’ll discuss the concrete logistics of hosting guests for talks and workshops. Continue reading A Graduate Guide to Guest Lectures, I: The Planning Process
By Caitlin Rose Myers
We would all agree that conferences are an essential part of the job of academic. However, I’ve recently discovered firsthand that fulfilling this part of our job is extremely difficult for those scholars and graduate students who have disabilities, in ways that are often overlooked – not out of malice, but out of a lack of understanding or foresight. On a recent trip to two conferences in the span of two weeks, I encountered many of the obstacles I’m referring to while using my wheelchair to try to navigate the conference atmosphere. I’d like to share these obstacles in the hope of promoting more foresight and more activism for the rights of disabled conference attendees. Since my disability is largely related to mobility, that is my focus here, although I hope that more conversation can occur about sensitivity and accessibility for all disabled scholars. As a part of our job, we shouldn’t struggle as much as we do to engage with these events, and I hope to encourage those who notice some of these issues at conferences you attend to speak to organizers about promoting accessibility.
Continue reading Guest Post: Disability and Visibility at the Academic Conference
NASSR-time is upon us, and I am very excited to see many of our Romanticist writers and readers in Winnipeg! Readers can expect an update on the conference — and particularly the sessions for graduate students — next week. But first, I’d like to give my report on The Dickens Universe 2015, which I attended for the first time at UC Santa Cruz at the beginning of this month. This annual week-long event is part academic conference, part professionalism workshop, part Victorian reenactment, and part summer camp: it brings together faculty and graduate students from the US and abroad, but also “Road Scholars” of all ages whose admiration for Boz brings them back each year to discuss a new novel. And, while Dickens isn’t strictly part of the Romanticist repertoire, the conference has much to offer for the aspiring nineteenth-century aficionado/a. Continue reading Dickens in Eden, 2.0
I haven’t been to too many conferences yet, but I imagine that blithe comments about necrophilia and incest are relatively rare, and them being met with easy laughter is rarer still. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that this happened at the conference of the International Gothic Association (IGA), but I didn’t expect the atmosphere to be so lighthearted. That’s not to say that there wasn’t serious scholarship happening; to the contrary, the amount of fascinating research presented on everything from Shakespeare to Supernatural was a little overwhelming.
Continue reading Report from the 12th Biennial IGA Conference: Gothic Migrations
June 18, 2015 marked the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, that decisive event that signaled the end of the Napoleonic Wars and, more broadly, constant military conflict on the European continent since 1756. Notable not only for Napoleon’s defeat by the combined forces of England, Prussia, and the Netherlands under the command of the Duke of Wellington and the Prince of Orange, Waterloo remains one of the bloodiest military conflicts in history with nearly 48,000 causalities in only ten hours. Yet, even more than a political turning point, Waterloo left an inedible mark on the period’s cultural productions; as graduate students studying Romanticism, we remember the battle in terms of the massive literary and artistic output it inspired. From Wordsworth’s “Thanksgiving Ode” to a theatrical production at Sadler’s Wells that included the song ‘The Bellerophon, or Nappy napped,'” Waterloo became a permanent fixture in Europe’s cultural memory. Continue reading Report from the Front: Professor Jeffrey N. Cox on the Waterloo Bicentennial