The MLA Job List posted this past week, a cruel two days early. (For the uninitiated: the Modern Language Association posts a large share of the available academic jobs in literature and languages each September, a long-anticipated event that crashes servers and kicks off the academic hiring cycle.) Perusing the Job List in its first days is heartening and traumatic in turn, and in the effort to maintain my sense of humor during these dark days, I present to my few loyal readers Carrots’ Inner Monologue While Viewing the 2011-2012 MLA Job List:
Here we go! This is my year! I am an academic rock star! I am a running carrot!
[Opens spreadsheet pre-formatted for job info, created in a moment of OCD pre-job market mania. Checks fonts for consistency as a means to delay searching the list and feels a fleeting sense of control in this senseless universe. Briefly considers re-color-coding the entire thing to incorporate warmer, gentler tones. Finally commits to the first search of the list.]
Hmmmm. That’s not a very long list.
[Scrolls through entries.]
African American lit. Medievalist. Medievalist. Medievalist. African American Lit.
ROMANTICIST! That’s kind of close to what I do!
[Makes a quick list of Romanticist authors taught or written about in past ten years. It is a respectable list.]
I could totally be a Romanticist. Especially for a job in [insert desirable urban area].
[Actually reads the posting, which requests a candidate studied in the sexual preferences of lemmings in 18th-century France.]
Well, maybe I’m not that kind of Romanticist. Lemmings only appear briefly in that one seminar paper I wrote that one time in my first semester of graduate school. And really, the whole lemming thing was only a metaphor.
[Continues scrolling through list. Shoulders have tensed and migrated toward ears.]
Creative writing. Creative writing. Medievalistmedievalistmedievalist.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY JOBS FOR MEDIEVALISTS!?!
[Briefly considers whether she could sell herself as a medievalist. Realizes she knows nothing about this specialty. No. Not even close.]
Aha! Nineteenth-century British! Desirable school! Urban area! Light teaching load!
[Bubble of inevitable hope rises in chest. A portrait of this job formulates immediately in mind’s eye — complete with ivy, upper-level courses with engaging and witty students, conference funding, and office lined with books and dignity — only to dissipate immediately.]
Stupid desirable job in an urban area with a light teaching load. You belong to someone else, don’t you? WHY DO YOU MOCK ME!?!?
[Adds job to spreadsheet anyway. Continues to scroll through list.]
“X University seeks a tenure-track assistant professor in English of the extra-long nineteenth century, with preferred interests in Al Gore studies and ability to advise graduate students.”
Well, I could make a case that I know Gore. I use the Internet, after all. And I’ve seen his movie. Where is X University, anyway?
[Maps X University on Google Maps. It appears as a small pinpoint in a vast, empty space, somewhere in the Middle of the Country.]
[Zoom out. Zoom out. Zoom out. Zoom out. Zoom out.]
AHA! Civilization! Am I willing to live in TownI’veneverheardof to teach Al Gore studies?
[Enters job into spreadsheet. Includes a note documenting estimated miles to nearest grocery store. Continues to scroll through list.]
Twentieth-century American lit. Feminist theory. Rhet Comp. Rhet Comp. Rhet Comp. Rhet Comp. Generalist position.
[Briefly wonders who exactly is qualified for a generalist position. Considers how her dissertation committee would have reacted if she submitted a prospectus on general literature in general terms, history of the English language through twenty-first century, in all nations. Continues to scroll through list.]
Woohoo! Children’s literature, tenure-track, assistant professor! Place I wouldn’t mind living!
[Enters job in spreadsheet. Happily imagines scoring an interview. Anticipates spending most of the interview convincing the committee that yes, she can teach children’s literature. True, she knows a lot about Victorian literature. No, she is not a rogue Victorianist sent to infiltrate your department with her crazy nineteenth-century antics. Yes, she promises. Continues to search job list.]
“Prestigious University will be accepting three desperate, newly-minted PhDs for three-week postdocs, minimal pay. You will only have to teach one class, but you will be competing with 500 applicants with degrees in every field that has ever existed, including Desirable Degrees in Fields That Are Relevant Due to Current Events. (Read: your boring, dead-white-man field is irrelevant.) Please submit cover letter, CV, official undergraduate and graduate transcripts, six letters of recommendation in sealed envelopes, an 11-and-a-half page writing sample, teaching philosophy, research statement, three syllabi, and a hot fudge sundae with a puppy on top to this address within two weeks. You can also submit your documents through this website, which will crash just as you complete your application. If you submit your application late, you are a useless human being with credentials from an inferior institution. Equal opportunity employer.”
[Enters postdoc on spreadsheet. Reflects upon which dog breed will suggest professionalism and panache. Dacshund, perhaps?]
Good luck, fellow job hunters! We will survive.